By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 18, 2010; 7:22 PM
CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Georgetown men's basketball team built a comfortable first-half lead by coolly sinking one three-pointer after another. And when Coastal Carolina made a second-half run, the Hoyas squashed it with another barrage of baskets from beyond the arc.
In all, 20th-ranked Georgetown made 14 three-pointers Thursday - the third-most in program history - en route to its most complete victory of the season, 80-61, in the opening game of the Charleston Classic.
Jason Clark scored 15 of his game-high 22 points from behind the three-point line, while fellow guards Chris Wright and Austin Freeman each made four three-pointers as Georgetown (3-0) came within three of matching the school record and continued a trend that began Monday, when it sank 12 against Tulane.
"This is probably the second game in a row where we took too many," Hoyas Coach John Thompson III said when asked whether launching 30 shots from long range was part of the game plan. "But if your question is whether our guys can make them at that clip, my answer is yes. . . . We have guys who, across the board, will make open shots."
Georgetown will meet Wofford on Friday at 2:30 p.m. The Terriers advanced with a 78-61 victory over South Carolina-Upstate.
While the Hoyas' three-point accuracy was a big reason they so easily cruised past a Chanticleers team that won 28 games last season and is favored to win a second straight Big South Conference regular season title, it wasn't the only factor. Wright was the best guard on the floor despite being outscored by four of them. He set a career high for assists with 12, the highest total for a Hoyas' guard since Joey Brown had 13 against Seton Hall in 1993. On Monday, Wright matched his then-career high with eight, prompting Thompson to predict that he would soon surpass that figure.
"That was not a challenge," Thompson said with a laugh. "I just knew. It's his understanding of what we need from him coupled with he's playing with some guys that can put the ball in the basket. So I say it here, now, 12 is not going to be the most [assists] he's going to have over the course of this year."
Wright said the praise belongs to his teammates for finishing the plays.
"It just show that we have so many scorers," he said. "Once Hollis [Thompson] starts knocking down his threes and all his jumpers, it will hopefully be more. It's just being able to find guys and find them in the right spots. Jason has been shooting the ball like crazy. And you have to find guys when they're hot."
And when it comes to hot, few are hotter than Clark, who is averaging 19 points, up from 10.5 a season ago. He's also a combined 10 for 20 from three point range.
"I've gotten into a rhythm and I'm feeling a lot more comfortable and confident shooting the ball," he said.
The Hoyas also got a strong performance from Julian Vaughn, who returned from a health scare that kept him out of Monday's game. The senior center blocked a career-best five shots, grabbed a game-high seven rebounds and scored 11 points, the first double-digit scoring effort from a Georgetown front-court player this season.
"It was real hard watching them play," said Vaughn, who received a warm welcome back from the Hoyas' cheering section after he flushed a two-handed dunk on Georgetown's first possession. "I really just wanted to get back as soon as I could. I'm glad to be feeling a lot better and I want to thank everyone who was involved in helping me get back."
Asked what was ailing him, Vaughn deferred to Thompson, who would only say, "Just a little off." Thompson did, however, say that he does not believe Vaughn's health will become an ongoing issue.
Chad Gray, Coastal Carolina's leading scorer and best player, was still suffering from the lingering effects of strep throat and, as a result, had only eight points in 21 minutes. But even a healthy Gray might not have been enough to reverse his team's fortunes.
The Chanticleers (2-2) pulled within 51-44 on a jumper by Gray with 10 minutes 44 seconds left to play. But back-to-back three pointers by Freeman and Clark restored the Hoyas' firm grasp on the lead, and Coastal Carolina never challenged again.
"They were hitting it all night, and they never stopped," Chanticleers Coach Cliff Ellis said. "We felt like we needed for them to miss some of those shots for us to win."