By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 20, 2010; 12:34 AM
CHARLESTON, S.C. - Twice in the second half, Georgetown watched its once-commanding lead get whittled to a mere five points by a Wofford team that simply wouldn't submit. Both times, though, Chris Wright and the Hoyas responded exactly the way Coach John Thompson III had hoped: with the type of composure required to make a deep run in March.
Wright scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, center Julian Vaughn notched his first career double-double and the 20th-ranked Hoyas showed their improved depth Friday as they pulled away late for a 74-59 victory that secured a spot in the Charleston Classic championship game.
"We are going to make runs, the other team is going to make runs," Thompson said. "It's how we respond. Our composure we had today, to settle down and relax and start to execute again . . . without getting rattled, and that's good to see this early in the year."
Georgetown scored the game's first nine points and led 37-24 at halftime. But Wofford (1-3), a season removed from its first NCAA tournament appearance, took its best shot at upsetting the Hoyas midway through the second half after a three-pointer by Jamar Diggs cut its deficit to 50-45.
Georgetown, however, put away its Southern Conference opponent with a clutch effort from the free throw line, an area that's been among the Hoyas' few weaknesses. They made 9 of 10 free throws during a 9-0 run that turned that five-point edge into a 59-45 lead that proved too much for Noah Dahlman (game-high 19 points) and the Terriers to overcome.
Overall, the Hoyas were 21 for 27 from the free throw line. Entering Friday's game, the Hoyas had gone to the line less than any team in the Big East and made only 46 percent (13 of 28), also last in the conference.
"Today was different because they weren't giving us threes," Wright said, referring to the combined 26 three pointers the Hoyas made the previous two games. "That's why we got to the line, because we were attacking the rim."
Wright, who was 6 for 8 from the line, said he does not expect to lead Georgetown in points often. But with top scorers Austin Freeman and Jason Clark limited to 14 and eight points, respectively, the Hoyas sure were glad that he did. The senior also had five assists.
"I don't think I had the hot hand," Wright said. "It's going to be rare nights when I'm going to be the leading scorer because I'm trying to do so much other stuff."
In addition to praising his team's collective composure down the stretch, Thompson acknowledged the contributions the Hoyas received from players throughout the lineup, singling out Jerrelle Benimon and Henry Sims.
"Zero points and two rebounds," Thompson said of Benimon's line as he scanned a box score. "But he came in when Dahlman was scoring left and right and did a great job containing him. That's something that's not going to show up on the stat sheet but it came at a key point when they were making runs."
As for Sims, the junior center had six points on 3-for-3 shooting from the field. He also produced a key rebound and a blocked shot during the Hoyas' decisive run.
"Henry Sims came in and gave us a big boost for stretches there in the second half," Thompson said. "After today, we are going to expect that from him on a going-forward basis."
Thompson also dished out out some good-natured ribbing to Vaughn, who was dominant inside the paint in the opening minutes.
"He had all week off," Thompson cracked. "He should have a lot of energy."
Vaughn missed a game and two practices this week after getting sick. But he's shown no ill effects from the time off while in Charleston. One game after setting a career high in blocked shots with five, the senior finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 4 blocked shots against Wofford.
"We definitely wanted to set the tone because everyone feeds off that energy and it's easier to get going to start the game," Vaughn said. "That's what we need: Come out of the gates with fire and [maintain] it the rest of the game."