Porter earned 15 of his game-high 28 points on the free throw line. And despite being lashed in a virtual straitjacket by Scarlet Knight defenders, Porter added a game-high eight rebounds, grabbed four steals, outran a Rutgers fast break to get one of his three blocks and flew in from nowhere for a putback that ignited the Hoyas’ late-game surge. Playing all but the final 23 seconds, he had one turnover and one foul.
Rutgers Coach Mike Rice had nothing but admiration, opening his postgame remarks by saying: “I know who I’m voting for as Big East Player of the Year. A steady dose of Otto Porter and lack of offensive toughness the last six minutes kind of did us in.”
It was a far closer game than the final score indicated, with the lead changing hands eight times. Georgetown (23-4, 13-3) managed just six first-half field goals, led by a single point at halftime (29-28) and didn’t take a double-digit until late in the second period.
“I didn’t feel comfortable until I took Otto out of the game ,” Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said.
Despite Porter’s heroics, Rutgers had a considerable hand in its own defeat. It wasn’t just Porter and the rest of the Hoyas (most in the Verizon Center crowd of 12,931 spent much of the game booing officials for not calling more fouls). Rutgers shot early and often, undeterred by air balls and three-point attempts that fell nowhere near the rim.
Wally Judge, a D.C. native who fouled out with more than four minutes remaining, was the only Rutgers players to score in double-figures (11 points).
Porter was the lone Hoya to score in double figures, as well, but he was hardly the only bright spot for Georgetown. Markel Starks had nine points. Moses Ayegba came off the bench and grabbed seven key rebounds. And junior forward Nate Lubick added a tough defensive presence despite rolling an ankle during a battle for a rebound in the first half.
Rutgers (13-14, 4-12) arrived in Washington on a three-game losing skid and without its leading scorer, sophomore guard Eli Carter, who broke a leg Feb. 16.
But Georgetown was the less steady team early, tallying one field goal and four turnovers in the first 5:51, while Rutgers went on a 10-0 run.
After more than six minutes without a field goal, Porter finally hit a jumper and followed with a block.
And though the Hoyas’ offense sputtered, they didn’t panic but kept moving the ball, looking for the player with an open shot.
With a three-pointer by D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, they reclaimed the lead just before the 10-minute mark.
The fouls started piling up against the Hoyas in the second half, which riled the crowd.
And when Porter stepped back for a three-pointer and appeared to be all but assaulted without a foul being called, almost the entire arena stood and booed.
Plenty of fouls were called, however, and Porter kept marching to the free throw line.
“He can score in a lot of different ways,” Thompson said. “But from Day 1, Otto Porter has done everything. You look at the rebounds, defense, the communication — it’s not just about the scoring. His teammates are just as important in that equation.”