Georgetown basketball beats Tulane behind Jason Clark and Austin Freeman

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; 12:29 AM

Early Monday afternoon, Jason Clark found out that his grandmother had died. By the time Georgetown's game ended a few hours later, the junior had honored her in the best way he knew - with one of the most complete performances of his career.

Clark scored 17 points, grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds and added five steals to help pace the Julian Vaughn-less Hoyas past Tulane, 69-53, before a crowd of 10,031 at Verizon Center.

"The biggest decision, in speaking to her the last couple of weeks, she wanted me to stay in school," Clark said of Janetta Clarke, 69, who died of cancer. "I knew she would want me to play today."

Austin Freeman and Chris Wright - surprise, surprise - were also instrumental in the 20th-ranked Hoyas' second straight win to open the season, a triumph that was clinched with a 16-5 run early in the second half. Freeman scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the first half, while Wright compensated for a cold shooting touch by equaling his career high for assists with eight.

"My role is much bigger than scoring," Wright said. "I have to get other people going. Jason was shooting the ball well, and Austin was shooting the ball well. So you have to keep giving them the ball. If I could hit a shot every now and then, that would be pretty cool. But it's no big deal."

Wright missed four of his five attempts from three-point range. But his teammates more than made up for it. As a team, the Hoyas knocked down 12 of 29 shots from behind the arc, which equaled their most three-pointers made since Feb. 14, 2009, at Syracuse.

The hot streak from long range actually began in the second half of Friday's opener at Old Dominion, when they made 7 of 11.

"There was a stretch there when I thought we were taking too many," Coach John Thompson III said. "But then I thought about it, and I think Tulane made a concerted effort that that's what we were going to give us. They clogged everything up. When we threw it down, they were sending bodies at the post."

Thompson was referring to a Georgetown front court that's suddenly much thinner. On Monday, the Hoyas were without Vaughn, their starting center, after the senior became ill in practice Sunday and was taken to Georgetown University Hospital. As of late Monday, doctors had not cleared Vaughn to return to the court and Thompson said there's no time table for his return.

"At this point we do not have enough data to speculate," Thompson said in a release that was distributed about an hour before tip-off. "We hope that Julian will be back as soon as possible."

Without Vaughn, the Hoyas found themselves down two centers. On Friday, freshman Moses Ayegba was ruled ineligible for the season's first nine games because he broke pre-enrollment rules.

Asked if he had an update on Vaughn or whether the center would accompany the Hoyas on their trip to South Carolina, Thompson said: "Not right now. I'm not sure at this point. I have no idea."

The Hoyas are scheduled to leave Tuesday afternoon for Charleston, where they'll participate in the Charleston Classic, an eight-team, bracket-style tournament that runs through Sunday. Georgetown opens with Coastal Carolina at noon Thursday.

Henry Sims started in Vaughn's place and finished with two points, while forward Hollis Thompson had a better performance than Friday's, scoring eight points and grabbing five rebounds.

But once again, the relative lack of post production didn't matter because of the Hoyas' prolific guards.

None of them, though, was more prolific - or determined - than Clark. The 6-foot-2 guard had six more rebounds than anyone on his team and two more than the Green Wave's best player, Kris Richard, who also scored 22 points. Clark also played a team-high 33 minutes.

"She didn't want me to come home," said Clark, who was wearing a black suit and spoke in hushed tones, his eyes cast downward. "She told me that if this did happen, she wanted me to continue on and succeed."

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