- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Corey Stokes might have made the biggest play of Georgetown’s season.

The Villanova freshman swingman hip-checked Georgetown’s Jon Wallace 80 feet from the basket with the score tied and 0.1 seconds remaining last night, sending one of the most reliable free throw shooters in program history to the line for two chances to win the game.

Georgetown’s senior point guard needed only one, hitting both free throws to give the No. 8 Hoyas a bizarre 55-53 win over the struggling Wildcats.

“You just try to clear your mind and not to think about it,” said Wallace, who entered the game shooting 82.6 percent in his career from the line.

Perhaps fellow senior Roy Hibbert (13 points, six rebounds) put it most succinctly: “I wasn’t worried when I heard it was a foul. Jonathan Wallace is cold as ice when it comes to hitting free throws.”

Now 4-0 in games decided by three points or less this season, the cardiac Hoyas looked dreadful offensively in snapping Villanova’s six-game winning streak at Verizon Center, shooting just 40 percent and committing 18 turnovers.

But the Hoyas have a knack for finding ways to win.

“I think we are comfortable in tight situations. We are comfortable at the end of games, but we were fortunate today,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson III, whose Hoyas teams are 17-4 in games decided by three or less or in overtime. “I hope that [bodes well] for games down the road because that’s the way we’ve been doing it.”

Georgetown (20-3, 10-2 Big East) blew sizable leads in both halves but was bailed out often by its defense. The game-winning free throws came after the last of those defensive stands, the latest impressive, game-ending stop for sophomore Jeremiah Rivers.

After Georgetown’s Austin Freeman missed a 3-pointer in Georgetown’s last full possession, the Wildcats (14-9, 4-7) took possession with the game tied and 30.1 seconds left.

As expected, coach Jay Wright put the ball into the hands of Herndon native Scottie Reynolds (24 points) for his team’s final attempt. Thompson countered with Rivers, who tracked Reynolds as he swooped right with 10 seconds remaining.

“On the last possession, I think everybody knew who was going to get the ball and who was going to take the last shot,” said Rivers, who stopped Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn in a similar situation three weeks ago. “When he drove baseline, he ran out of places to go, so his only options were to throw it out or throw up a crazy shot. I just got my hand up and deflected it.”

The deflection bounced into the lane, where Wallace emerged from a scrum with the ball before drawing the game-ending call.

The game’s deciding moments provided a perfect conclusion to an aesthetically indigestible mess that featured far more fouls (48) than field goals (30). And though Wallace (15 points) was clearly the hero of the moment after breaking out of his long-range shooting slump with three 3-pointers to clinch the victory, the win belonged to the team’s collective constitution.

With its season suddenly sliding in the wrong direction, Georgetown resorted to its one unwavering characteristic: defense.

Trailing Villanova 31-28 and in danger of losing back-to-back games for the first time in more than 13 months, Thompson’s Hoyas strapped a second-half muzzle on the Wildcats.

After allowing a follow-up jam on Villanova’s first possession of the second half, the Hoyas did not allow another field goal until just 7:57 remained in the game, forcing 20 consecutive misses from the field while clawing out to a 46-34 lead on a Wallace 3-pointer.

In the second half, Villanova shot just 12.9 percent from the field (4-for-31), confirming the Hoyas’ status as the nation’s statistical leader on defense.

A full game clear of Notre Dame atop the Big East standings, the Hoyas have several days to prepare for Saturday’s test in the Carrier Dome against another young but talented team in Syracuse (16-8, 6-5).

Hoyas report

Last night at Verizon Center


The best banner award goes to the Georgetown student who brought a sign graced by a picture of Roy Hibbert superimposed over Michelangelo’s “Creation of Man” bearing the words: “And then God said, ‘Let there be Roy!’ ”


17.3 Points a game for Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds in four career starts against Georgetown. Every time he steps on the floor, the Herndon product punishes the Hoyas for not offering him a scholarship. Last night, the sophomore guard finished with a game-high 24 points.

4 Field goals in 31 attempts for Villanova in the second half. The Wildcats missed all 13 of their second-half 3-pointers and 20 consecutive shots from the field between the 19:51 mark and 7:57 mark, finishing with by far the team’s lowest field goal percentage in a game this season (.246). Georgetown leads the nation in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to .353.

Barker Davis

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