Jason Clark spurs No. 9 Georgetown’s improbable 2nd-half rally over No. 20 Marquette
Down 17 points in the second half to Marquette, a top-10 team in a No. 20 body, you might be excused for thinking this was the game the young Hoyas were going to lose after a remarkable run through the first half of the season.
But Jason Clark wasn’t having any of that.
Georgetown’s senior guard simply took over during the final 12:49, leading the Hoyas on a stirring, unbelievable 73-70 comeback victory over the Golden Eagles on Wednesday before an incredulous Verizon Center throng.
With the triumph, the Hoyas (13-1, 3-0 Big East) have won 11 straight to match the longest streak since 2006-07.
While Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims came up with huge shots down the stretch — none bigger than Sims‘ layup with 2:10 left to give Georgetown its first lead since 24-23 or Thompson’s 3-point dagger with 24 seconds left to provide the final margin — it was Clark who provided the impetus for the run.
Almost imperceptibly, Clark began to assert himself, driving the ball to the hole repeatedly and weaving his way through Marquette’s defense to the hoop.
“We joke about it, but most of the time when we’re down, we have the feeling that we aren’t going to lose the game,” Clark said. “That’s a good confidence to have. I have faith in my players, and they have faith in me.”
Clark actually started the comeback with a 3-pointer, and then began taking advantage of shellshocked Marquette (12-3, 1-1) defenders on his drives, accounting for nine points as the Hoyas chipped the lead down to 62-57 with 7:08 remaining.
It seemed as if a switch went off for the Hoyas’ spiritual leader, and Georgetown coach John Thompson III agreed.
“He decided to go with the plan,” Thompson III said. “He wasn’t with the plan in the first half. And what I mean is, he was down because he was missing shots. The first half was a lot of, ‘Oh, damn, missed again.’ In the second half, right from first possession, his defense set the tone, and his offense followed.”
For a large portion of the second half, Clark found himself on the floor with a four-freshman lineup — Otto Porter, Jabril Trawick, Mikael Hopkins and Greg Whittington — and hardly noticed a difference.
“It didn’t seem like it,” Clark said. “They don’t play like [freshman]. We don’t think about it when we are on the court. They come in and contribute so well, it just blows by.”
The Hoyas shot an astonishing 76.2 percent percent in the second half (16-for-21) and held Marquette to just 17 shots.
“They only missed five balls,” Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams said. “That’s really hard to overcome.”
But when it came down to finishing Georgetown’s biggest comeback victory since rallying from 17 down against Connecticut in Jan. 2010, it was the Hoyas’ upperclassmen who delivered the biggest blows.