Georgetown vs. Marquette: Hoyas erase 17-point deficit to topple Golden Eagles, 73-70


Georgetown’s Markel Starks is surrounded by Marquette defenders at Verizon Center. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
January 4, 2012

A game after being limited to a season-low point total, Hollis Thompson found himself with the ball in his hands and the game on the line Wednesday. And, without a second thought, the junior swingman delivered for the Georgetown men’s basketball team.

Thompson scored eight of his 16 points in the final 3 minutes 21 seconds, including a three-pointer with 24 seconds remaining.

The shot completed the ninth-ranked Hoyas’ scintillating rally from a 17-point second-half deficit to a 73-70 victory over No. 20 Marquette at Verizon Center.

“We say this in jest, but Hollis’s confidence is always flowing,” Coach John Thompson III said. “And our confidence in him is always going. We did a very good job as a group of saying, ‘Let’s go back to him, let’s get him the ball.’ ”

Georgetown (13-1, 3-0 Big East) extended its winning streak to 11 games, matching its longest run since 2007, and has defeated four ranked opponents this season. (Memphis, Alabama and Louisville are the others.) The Hoyas are the only team in the nation to have beaten four ranked teams.

As clutch as Hollis Thompson was, he didn’t do it alone.

Marquette (12-3, 1-1) opened a 14-point lead at halftime, then extended its edge to 56-39 on a three-pointer by Todd Mayo with 13:13 left to play.

But the Golden Eagles weren’t able to grow that advantage thanks, in large part, to the defensive efforts of a curious combination of players, given the stakes: senior Jason Clark (game-high 26 points) and freshmen Jabril Trawick, Greg Whittington, Otto Porter and Mikael Hopkins.

“That’s the group that got us jump-started,” John Thompson said. “We just guarded. That’s what’s going to win games in this conference. You have to get stops.”

Marquette was held to 35.3 percent shooting from the field in the second half after shooting 48.6 percent in the first. Clark, Trawick and Whittington combined to shut down Darius Johnson-Odom, who was limited to five points in the final 20 minutes after he scored 13 in the first half.

The Hoyas also started making big shots: They went 16 of 21 in the second half (76.2 percent).

Thompson, who spent a significant portion of the second half on the bench, re-entered the game and promptly made a three-pointer that cut Marquette’s lead to 66-64 and ignited the crowd of 11,213.

After Johnson-Odom was whistled for an offensive foul, Thompson knocked down a jumper at the other end tie the game at 66, the game’s first deadlock since 21-21.

Whittington made a steal on Marquette’s next possession and Henry Sims (13 points, five assists) converted a smooth finger roll moments later to put the Hoyas ahead, 68-66. But it almost wasn’t enough. After the teams traded baskets, the Golden Eagles’ Junior Cadougan made a jumper with 47 seconds remaining to knot the score at 70. Enter Thompson.

On the game’s decisive possession, Sims drove the lane and then kicked the ball out to Thompson, who calmly drained a three-pointer. Sims recorded assists on the Hoyas’ last two baskets.

“I was open, so I took the shots,” said Thompson, who scored only four points in Saturday’s win over Providence.

Clark, who scored 18 points in the second half, said the Hoyas’ commitment to playing team defense led to the turnaround after a first half that they would just as soon forget. In the opening 20 minutes, they committed 12 turnovers to the Golden Eagles’ five and went into the locker room down 14 points.

“We just felt like we were getting embarrassed,” Clark said. “So in the second half, we wanted to turn it up defensively, and our defense turned into our offense.”

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