Georgetown rebounded from its first loss and worst performance of the season by authoring a pre-Christmas opus Wednesday afternoon against Harvard.
Dominating the Crimson in every conceivable category, the 14th-ranked Hoyas buried Harvard 86-70 behind a career effort from its focal troika of Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Greg Monroe.
The trio outscored the visiting Ivy Leaguers by themselves, combining to score 71 points for the Hoyas (9-1) in the team's final tune-up before opening Big East play New Year's Eve against St. John's.
"Coming off the Old Dominion loss [Saturday], we wanted to really focus from start to finish today," said Wright after posting career highs in both scoring (34 points) and steals (six). "I wasn't really looking for my shot today. I wasn't trying to force anything, but I did take what was there."
An exam break removed from an impressive two-game run through New England that saw Harvard push Connecticut to the wire in a 79-73 loss and drop crosstown big boy Boston College for a second consecutive season, the Crimson (7-3) employed an unusually aggressive halfcourt defense against the Hoyas. Led by Ivy League MVP favorite Jeremy Lin (15 points), Harvard's guards pushed out well beyond the 3-point arc on Georgetown's perimeter players, taking away the long-range jumper but virtually begging the Hoyas to attack with dribble penetration.
Wright was more than happy to comply. The 6-foot-1 junior from Bowie spent all afternoon blowing by his man at the top of the key and either creating opportunities for his teammates or finishing at the rim. Perfectly complementing their blur of a point man, Freeman repeatedly punished the Crimson on the wing and Monroe cleaned up the leftovers inside.
Freeman finished with a career-high 21 points, and Monroe arguably played his most complete game since arriving at the Hilltop, adding a career-high 16 rebounds to his 16 points, five blocks and four steals.
"I think we just outworked them today inside," said the 6-11 sophomore center from New Orleans. "I think it was as simple as that in terms of the difference in rebounding [38-28]. We really hurt them on the offensive glass [15 offensive rebounds]."
Harvard actually kept pace with the Hoyas for most of the first half, knotting the score at 33-33 on a basket by sophomore point man Oliver McNally (11 points) with 3:31 remaining. But courtesy of some smothering defense, a slew of steals and resulting transition baskets, Georgetown closed the first frame on an 11-0 run to take a 44-33 lead into intermission.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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