WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twelve days earlier with Georgetown trailing Cincinnati 66-64 in the closing moments, the Hoyas put the ball in Otto Porter’s hands and, for the first time all season, the freshman showed his youth by stepping out of bounds ending any possible chance at a comeback.
Given a second chance to make the winning plays down the stretch, Porter responded by scoring the final six points, including two free throws with 8.5 seconds remaining, in tenth-ranked Georgetown’s 52-50 victory over visiting Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.
“Otto doesn’t get rattled, he just plays the game, “Coach John Thompson III said about his sixth-man’s performance down the stretch.
And what a unique game it was as Georgetown (16-3, 6-2) won its third-straight game to remain in a second place tie in the Big East standings despite making just twelve field goals and shooting a season-low 29.3 percent from the field.
The Hoyas twelve made field goals tied Harvard’s output against Florida State earlier this season as the lowest in the nation in a winning effort.
Henry Sims led the way with his first career double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds while Jason Clark joined in him double figures with 11 points. Both Sims (8-of-13) and Clark (8-of-10) relied mainly on the foul line to do their damage.
Georgetown trailed Rutgers 25-20 after twenty minutes thanks in large part to just 13 percent shooting (3-of-23) from the field. It was the worst shooting performance in a half in Coach Thompson III’s eight-year tenure at Georgetown.
The Hoyas stayed in the game by hitting 14 of their 18 first half free throw attempts after struggling from the line in their previous three outings. By comparison Rutgers hit just one of two free throws during that same period.
The free throw disparity never evened out as Georgetown attempted 36 for the game compared to just seven for Rutgers. Team fouls weren’t much better as the Scarlett Knights were called for more than twice as many fouls (29) as the Hoyas (14).
Rutgers (11-9, 3-4) took their biggest lead of the game with 12:11 remaining at 38-31 on Derrick Randall’s layup but the Hoyas got an immediate answer from an unexpected source.
Freshman Greg Whittington scored the next seven points for the Hoyas after a rough first half in which he missed two layups. Whittington capped off his 7-0 run with a made three-pointer. It was just his eight make of the year and only his second in conference play.
“I was doing the things I know I can do”, Whittington said about his offensive spurt.
“Coach said be aggressive, go after it, and I just played defense and it gave me confidence to make shots.”
Whittington and Porter combined for as many field goals (six) as all five Hoyas starters did together.
Georgetown held Rutgers scoreless for the final 2:33 after the Scarlett Knights took a 50-45 lead on an Eli Carter (team-high 14 points) three-pointer.
Porter’s first points on his 6-0 closing run came on a fast break layup after Nate Lubick stole the ball from Dane Miller and found the forward all alone under the basket. Clark then drew an offensive charge on Carter which set up Porter’s next jumper just 30 seconds later.
Georgetown then played perhaps their best defense of the season by forcing Rutgers into settling for a long Myles Mack three-point attempt as the shot clock ticked down towards zero which ultimately set up Porter’s winning free throws.
Rutgers Coach Mike Rice elected to let his team play rather than call a timeout. Carter drove the length of the court and got a floater off over Sims but it hit off the backboard and then the rim before sending the 12,852 in attendance at the Verizon Center into a wild celebration.
“I’ve had that feeling about our team this whole year,” Clark said about the Hoyas narrow escape.
“We’ve been in some tight games and there’s always been a feeling that we aren’t going to lose this game.”
Up Next: Georgetown has a week off before traveling to Pittsburgh next Saturday to face the surprising Panthers (11-9, 0-7).
Hoyas Notes: Markel Starks returned to the starting lineup after not playing against DePaul but was limited by foul trouble. Coach Thompson III mentioned a leg injury that limited Hollis Thompson to just 21 minutes on 1-of-5 shooting (four points) from the field.