Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Wallace Free Throws Sink Wildcats

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Sophomore forward DaJuan Summers

With 30.1 seconds left on the clock, the scored tied up at 53 and Villanova in possession of the ball, most teams would be nervous, but Georgetown had seen this situation before. And once again, the Hoyas survived with the pressure on, winning a 55-53 nailbiter over the Wildcats last night at Verizon Center on two free throws from senior guard Jonathan Wallace.

Georgetown saw almost the same situation just a few weeks ago at the end of regulation against rival Syracuse – the game tied, one possession left and the ball in the opponent’s hands.

This time, Georgetown knew the ball would pass through the hands of Villanova’s star, sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds (24 points), and just like they had against the Orange, the Hoyas put sophomore guard Jeremiah Rivers on the spot to defend the play.

“Last possession I think everybody in the crowd and everybody knew who was gonna get the ball, and who was gonna take the last shot,” Rivers said.

The strategy worked like a charm, Rivers suffocated Reynolds; Villanova’s sophomore lost control of the ball and Wallace grabbed the steal.

“He tried to beat the screen and he tried to come back,” Rivers said. “And when he drove baseline he ran out of places to go.”

Wallace drove down the sideline, and picked up the foul from Villanova freshman Corey Stokes.

Stokes fouled the wrong person. With the game on the line, there is no one more experienced at making the big play then Wallace, who is an 82.6 percent shooter from the line in his career.

He sunk both free throws with one-tenth of a second left on the clock to give the Hoyas their first win against the Wildcats at home since 1997.

“Jonathan Wallace is cold as ice when it comes to hitting free throws,” senior center Roy Hibbert said. Thompson didn’t mind that Wallace was the one at the line with the game on the line, either. “I feel good every time the ball leaves his hands.”

The game was Wallace’s first solid performance since his 15-point show in overtime against Syracuse. Once a consistent scorer, Wallace has been struggling lately, but came up big with two threes down the stretch in addition to the game-winning free throws for a total of 15 points. He also tacked on four steals to the tally.

Wallace had his work cut out for him, set to guard Villanova’s big threat, Reynolds, the only other unanimous preseason all-Big East first team selection besides the Hoyas’ Hibbert. Reynolds led all scorers on the day with his 24 points, but Thompson was impressed with Wallace’s defense, calling it “one of the best defensive efforts I’ve seen from him in four years.”

Nevertheless, it was Reynold’s performance early on that turned what appeared to be a Georgetown blowout into a grinding game for both sides.

The Hoyas grabbed the early advantage, as Georgetown jumped up eight points just six minutes in, but Villanova’s big threat answered with eight of his own. Reynolds topped off his run with a drive inside to tie it up at 15 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the first half, and the rest of the half was a battle, with Georgetown trailing by one point, 29-28, at the half.

Villanova focused on a 1-2-2 press, a defense that has been problematic for Georgetown in the past.

“In years past, where that has caused us trouble is we end up taking eight seconds to get it across, four to six seconds to get organized and then you don’t have time to play,” Thompson said. “So what we wanted to focus on is let’s beat the pressure and let’s get into our sets.”

The Wildcats opened the second half with a dunk by junior guard Dwayne Anderson, who ended with six points and 10 rebounds on the day.

Georgetown retaliated with a 10-3 run behind the force of Hibbert and sophomore forward DaJuan Summers (12 points, eight rebounds), whose physical presence boosted the Hoyas all night.

Georgetown extended its lead to 12 points with 8:42 remaining, and it looked like the Hoyas had finally established a comfortable lead.

But once again, Reynolds brought the Wildcats roaring back.

Hibbert started out quietly, netting just one field goal in the first 20 minutes of play, and having trouble producing points from inside the paint. But as he has tended to do all season, Hibbert found a way to the hoop and ended with 13 points for the Hoyas.

“It was a good chess match between the players,” Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright said. “We played good defense, and they found a way to win the game. That’s what great teams do.”

Rebounding, Georgetown’s fatal flaw in their loss to Louisville on Saturday, was again a trouble spot for the Hoyas as the Wildcats outrebounded the team 41-35, including a 16-4 edge on the offensive glass. Summers led the Hoyas with just eight rebounds.

Freshman guard Austin Freeman, one of the leading scorers on Saturday evening in Lousiville, had zero points and zero assists on the day.

The Hoyas’ next game doesn’t look to be any less anxiety-ridden as they face long-time rival Syracuse at the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon, the same team that gave them the overtime thriller at Verizon Center in January.

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