CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA Senior guard Austin Freeman didn't shoot the lights out on Sunday afternoon, but his 17 points and presence on the floor keyed Georgetown's comeback win over Marquette.
CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA
Senior guard Austin Freeman didn’t shoot the lights out on Sunday afternoon, but his 17 points and presence on the floor keyed Georgetown’s comeback win over Marquette.

For a moment at the end of the first half, Verizon Center held its collective breath.

The one thing the Hoyas simply could not afford began to unfold, as senior guard Austin Freeman limped slowly on his injured right ankle off the floor, down the tunnel and into the locker room.

But akin to Georgetown’s recovery from a sluggish first half — winning 69-60 over Marquette on Sunday despite shooting 7-of-27 from three-point range, gettingoutrebounded and trailing at halftime — Freeman found his way back onto the floor, played through the pain and delivered when the Hoyas needed him to.

It looked like the injury might be more serious when Freeman got his right ankle caught underneath Marquette junior forward Jae Crowder with 1:33 left in the first half, but the senior captain was able to come back and play through a sprained ankle — an injury both he and his coach say shouldn’t prevent him from starting at UConnon Wednesday.

“I got on the floor and somebody landed on my ankle,” Freeman said. “It rolled. I was just trying to get up and see if I [could] walk on it. … It didn’t hurt as much while I was playing.”

“Austin sprained his ankle,” Head Coach John Thompson III said. “Obviously he was able to go in the second half, but is he 100 percent? No. We’ll figure it out as soon as we get back to school. But he was able to play, though he was limping a little bit.”

Before and after rolling his ankle, Freeman was not his usually efficient self. He had 17 points, but he shot 7-of-17 from the field and 1-of-8 from three, which included a couple of second-half airballs. But like his entire team, he got the job done without playing at his best.

“We didn’t play well,” Thompson said. “I don’t think we were flat, I don’t want to use that word, we just didn’t play well. You have to give [Marquette] credit for that. They do a very good job of taking you out of your rhythm and running, jumping, trapping and playing hard.”

Freeman’s jumper from the left corner put the Hoyas in front 52-49 with 7:34 to play, and just over a minute later, he finished a fast break with a right-handed layup from the left side to give Georgetown a 57-50 lead — its largest advantage to that point. His ankle took away the typical burst from his drives to the basket and seemed to affect his mechanics on his jump shots, but his presence on the floor allowed the Hoyas to run their offense and kept Marquette from focusing its defense elsewhere.

In many ways Freeman’s injury and his subsequent return to the court is a microcosm of how theHoyas’ season has played out so far; the 1-4 start to the Big East looked like it might bury Georgetown, but the Hoyas are suddenly 9-4 and alone in third place in the conference. During their first five games in the Big East, and perhaps even in the non-conference, the Hoyas would not have been able to win a game in which they made just seven of 27 three-pointers, but on Sunday that is exactly what they did.

“We’re defending better, and also during [the 1-4 start] we had a couple of guys that we needed to score that had a bad stretch,” Thompson said, referring to Freeman and senior guard Chris Wright. “Those guys have to score for us. They had a bad 10-day stretch, but that stretch is over and they’re back to being themselves.”

After starting the second half on the bench, Freeman strolled with a slight limp to the scorers’ table and checked back into the game at the 17:14 mark. A walking metaphor for the 2010-2011 Hoyas’first 25 games, he played through some discomfort and came out on the other side.

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