By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 6, 2011; 12:30 AM
Providence swingman Marshon Brooks's scintillating 43-point performance Saturday established a career high and marked the highest total for an opponent during Georgetown Coach John Thompson III's tenure.
Fortunately for the 13th-ranked Hoyas, though, the sum of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright and Jason Clark's contributions was just enough for them to escape Verizon Center with an 83-81 victory that wasn't sealed until Brooks was stripped by Wright at midcourt as time expired.
Brooks's total (on 17-of-28 shooting) was the most in the Big East this season, the fifth highest in league history and the fourth most ever yielded by the Hoyas. But it wasn't quite enough to derail the conference's hottest team, which takes a six-game winning streak into Wednesday's showdown at Syracuse.
"I thought we did an outstanding job guarding [Vincent] Council. He had three points," Thompson said, referring to the Friars' second-leading scorer in his opening remarks to reporters after the game before turning serious and addressing Brooks's play. "He scores in every way possible. He can score in the post. He can take you off the bounce both ways. He's got range. He's a good player who was having one of the special days."
Thompson was able to smile and joke afterward, but the Hoyas (18-5, 7-4) came awfully close to blowing an 18-point second-half lead against a Providence team that hasn't won on the road since January 2010 at DePaul.
A layup by Clark gave Georgetown a 52-34 lead 97 seconds into the second half. But the Hoyas missed all 11 of their three-point attempts in the final 20 minutes (after making 8 of 15 in the first half) and went 11 for 21 from the free throw line, underscoring a chilly stretch that nearly undermined a balanced offensive effort from Austin Freeman (23 points), Clark (18), Wright (16) and Julian Vaughn (14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds).
"They just keep coming, keep coming, keep coming," Thompson said of the Friars. "On top of everything else, you make your foul shots it's a different game."
All of that allowed Brooks, a 6-foot-5 senior from Stone Mountain, Ga., to pull Providence within 80-79 on a drive with 10 seconds remaining.
"It was one of those nights," said Brooks, whose previous best was 33 points. "If we didn't turn it over here and there, we would have won the game."
The Friars (14-10, 3-8) were forced to foul, and Wright made two free throws to extend Georgetown's lead to 82-79. But on the ensuing Providence possession, Wright was whistled for a foul on Brooks, who again cut the deficit, to 82-81, with 6.4 seconds left to play.
Wright missed a free throw moments later, setting up a tense final 5.5 seconds. Brooks got the ball on an inbounds pass and raced downcourt. But before he could cross midcourt, he was trapped by Freeman, Wright and Clark. As Brooks attempted to dribble between Wright and Freeman, Wright reached in, tapped away the ball and dived on it.
"Everybody in the gym knew he was going to shoot the ball," Wright said. "He wasn't going to pass it. So I left my man and just had my eyes on the ball and tried make a play."
Wright appeared to momentarily motion for a timeout as he lay on his back, the ball in his hands. Time expired simultaneously, though, saving the Hoyas from a two-shot technical foul because they had no timeouts left.
"I don't remember," Wright said with a smile when asked if he called for a timeout. "Nah, we won."
The final play, in some ways, was emblematic of the Friars' afternoon: Brooks did all he could but received precious little help from his teammates. Duke Mondy scored 19 points, but no one else tallied more than seven. Council, in fact, went 0 for 10.
While that didn't seem to be Georgetown's strategy, the Hoyas were happy to take credit for it afterward.
"When you get in those situations, what we try to focus on is: 'Okay, he's getting his. Not saying we're going to give him his. But he's getting his. Now let's see if we can take everyone away.' " Thompson said. "If you can take everyone else away when they're having a special day, there aren't too many players that can beat you by themselves."
After a brief pause, he added, "He was close."