- Associated Press - Monday, January 31, 2011

WASHINGTON | Chris Wright went from 0 points to 24 in two days, keeping Georgetown’s winning streak alive and finally lifting the Hoyas into the top half of the Big East standings.

After going scoreless in a win over Villanova, Wright had a season-high 24 points Monday night as the 13th-ranked Hoyas overcame a major dose of Big East ugly to get their fifth straight win, blowing an 11-point second-half lead before pulling out a 62-59 victory over No. 15 Louisville.

On a night when Austin Freeman finally cooled off, Wright went 8 for 14 from the field and 8 for 8 from the free throw line. He scooped in a basket in traffic while getting bumped to the court to tie the score late, and his two free throws with 4.4 seconds left helped ice the game.

“I have to see how the game is going to determine my role,” said Wright, who attempted only three shots but had six assists in the 69-66 win over then-No. 8 Villanova on Saturday. “In the last game, Austin was hitting shots all over the place, early and often, so why force something? Why force the issue? I’ve got to be the playmaker. Whatever that entails is what I’ve got to do.”

The Hoyas (17-5, 6-4) shot 76 percent from the field in the second half to win a messy game that included 32 turnovers — 16 for each team. Freeman, who was averaging 24.3 points during the winning streak, was held to 13 points and committed six turnovers. He had his streak of 23 consecutive free throws end, but he did move into the top 10 on Georgetown’s career scoring list.

Peyton Siva’s night was even uglier. The Cardinals point guard, who was shooting 72 percent over his last four games, committed a career-high eight turnovers in 29 minutes and scored five points on 1-for-5 shooting from the field. He missed a 3-pointer at the final horn that could have sent the game to overtime.

“It was just unforced turnovers,” Siva said. “They played excellent defense, they had a great scheme, and I didn’t make the adjustment until the second half. You have these nights. Everybody has these nights.”

The Cardinals (17-5, 6-3), who had an upset win over then-No. 5 Connecticut on Saturday, dropped into a tie for third in the conference. Coach Rick Pitino was mostly upset over his team’s inability to communicate on defense late in the game, after Louisville had made up the big deficit with a 15-4 run.

“We made a couple of mental mistakes down the stretch, and I want the team to know I’m really, really upset at them for a reason,” Pitino said. “I gave them a speech before the game about good-to-great, good’s the enemy of great, and I want them to understand that as you try to go up the ladder and become a good basketball team, you’ve got to hate losing, it’s got to gnaw at you. You can’t say, ‘Aw, but it was unbelievable, another great comeback’ and be satisfied with a comeback and a moral victory. That’s what an inexperienced team can be. They can leave the locker room and say ‘We showed great heart,’ but we’ve got to win the game.”

There were certainly plenty of points left on the court down the stretch. Wright’s falling-down layup tied the game at 55 with 2:55 to play, and, after a missed Louisville shot, Hollis Thompson hit a 3-pointer with 2:01 remaining to give the Hoyas a 58-55 lead. The Cardinals missed three shots on their next possession but chased down the rebound each time until Siva was fouled in the lane. He made both free throws to cut the lead to one with 49 seconds to go.

Jason Clark made two free throws with 25 seconds left — his only points on a night in which he went 0 for 6 from the field — to restore the three-point lead. With the clock winding down, Siva opted not to take a contested 3-pointer and instead passed to Terrence Jennings for an easy dunk to make it 60-59 with 5.9 seconds to go.

That forced Louisville to foul immediately, and Wright made both shots for the game’s final points.

Jennings scored 18 points for the Cardinals, and Preston Knowles had 11 points on 3-for-14 shooting. Kyle Kuric, making his first start since Jan. 5, scored nine points.

No one was more off-kilter than Siva, who had seven turnovers in just 13 first-half minutes. Siva had never committed more than five turnovers in his 52 career games at Louisville.

Both schools were coming off wins over top 10 teams, and it seemed 48 hours wasn’t long enough to recover. They combined to commit 12 turnovers before they could score a combined 12 points. The Hoyas shot 31 percent in the first half, the Cardinals 26 percent.

The way the game was going, Georgetown’s 22-18 halftime lead looked insurmountable, and indeed that seemed to be the case for a while. The Hoyas had a 10-2 run early in the second half, and they made 13 of 17 field goals over the final 20 minutes.

The prolonged shooting slump that had them in a 1-4 hole in the conference less than three weeks ago is now well behind them.

“We have a poised group,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “We went through a difficult stretch where we were not making shots. We were getting good shots. They were not going in. We’re past that.”


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