Georgetown vs. Marquette: Austin Freeman leads Hoyas to 69-60 win despite sprained ankle
Monday, February 14, 2011; 12:10 AM
When Austin Freeman hobbled to the home locker room with a sprained ankle late in the first half Sunday, Georgetown's romp through the Big East seemed to be in as much doubt as its star player's return to the game.
Freeman, though, simply wouldn't allow the Hoyas' afternoon - or their winning streak - to end that way. In a game that will be remembered for its grittiness in the clutch, the senior guard returned in pain, his ankle heavily taped, to help lift No. 11 Georgetown to a 69-60 victory over Marquette at Verizon Center.
Thanks to Freeman's heroics - as well as a 20-point performance from fellow senior Chris Wright and career-high 13 rebounds from Hollis Thompson - the Hoyas' winning streak stands at eight games, their longest since an 11-game run in 2006-07. It also marks the fifth time in seven seasons Georgetown (20-5, 9-4) has won 20 games under Coach John Thompson III and puts it in sole possession of third place in the league standings behind Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.
But there was a moment just before halftime when all of that was in question. Marquette's Jae Crowder landed on Freeman's leg in the final seconds of a sometimes unsightly first half that ended with the Hoyas trailing, 35-31, getting outworked on the glass and shooting 28.6 percent from three-point range.
"We didn't play well," Coach Thompson said. "We had to start to do a better job on the boards and start to make the hustle plays."
The rally Thompson had hoped to see began with their leading scorer returning to the bench to chants of "Aus-tin Free-man" from the crowd of 14,284.
"I was in an awkward position and it rolled," Freeman said. "I was in pain, but I played through it."
It's a good thing he did.
Freeman scored eight of his 17 points in the final 20 minutes, including a baseline jumper that gave the Hoyas their first lead of the game, 42-41. The game turned in the Hoyas' favor a few minutes later when reserve center Henry Sims (seven points) scored a layup and a drew fifth foul from Davante Gardner. Sims's three-point play put Georgetown ahead 55-50, and the absence of the 6-foot-8, 290-pound Gardner opened up the middle of the paint.
On the Hoyas' next possession, Freeman scored a layup - with a nice assist from Wright - that put them ahead 57-50.
"That was a big turning point," Wright said of Sims's three-point play. "Then Austin got an easy layup, and after that, we just had to get stops."
Well, it wasn't quite that simple. Darius Johnson-Odom (team-high 20 points) picked off an errant inbounds pass by Wright and laid the ball in to cut Georgetown's lead to 63-60 with 1 minute 41 seconds remaining.