Hoyas’ Wright turns it on

Se­nior’s strong fin­ish helps send sloppy Ge­orge­town to win

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - wangg@wash­post.com

Declar­ing he can “take any­body off the drib­ble,” Ge­orge­town’s Chris Wright scores all 17 of his points in the sec­ond half as the Hoyas re­bound from a loss and de­feat DePaul for the 10th con­sec­u­tive meet­ing.

Cir­cum­stances sud­denly be­came a bit un­com­fort­able for the ninth-ranked Ge­orge­town men’s bas­ket­ball team Satur­day when DePaul whit­tled the Hoyas’ dou­ble-digit lead in the sec­ond half to a sin­gle point. That’s when Chris Wright moved to the left wing and dis­charged a three-point shot that missed but sent the se­nior guard to the foul line af­ter he drew con­tact.

Wright sank all three free throws, then con­tin­ued an as­sertive bent that buoyed Ge­orge­town when it mat­tered most in a some­times sloppy 86-75 vic­tory be­fore 11,718 at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter. Wright col­lected all 17 of his points in the sec­ond half, and se­nior Austin Free­man and ju­nior Ja­son Clark each con­trib­uted a team-high 21 in the Hoyas’ first New Year’s Day game since 1943.

Ge­orge­town (12-2, 1-1) got its first Big East win af­ter open­ing con­fer­ence play Wed­nes­day with a loss at Notre Dame dur­ing which its shoot­ing, par­tic­u­larly from three-point range, was sub­stan­dard. On Satur­day, the Hoyas shot 52.5 per­cent over­all, while mak­ing 5 of 14 from three-point range to nearly dou­ble their per­cent­age from that dis­tance against the Fight­ing Ir­ish.

The Hoyas beat DePaul for the 10th con­sec­u­tive time thanks in part to un­yield­ing de­fense late in the sec­ond half that kept the Blue Demons (6-8, 0-2) with­out a field goal for more than five min­utes. But even be­fore that stretch, Wright took it upon him­self to get into the lane with author­ity rather than set­tle for jumpers, weav­ing into the teeth of DePaul’s zone de­fense — of­ten with dis­re­gard for the ac­com­pa­ny­ing hard fouls.

“I can take any­body off the drib­ble,” said Wright, who shot 5 for 9 in the sec­ond half af­ter an ad­mit­tedly timid 0 for 3 in the first 20 min­utes. “Sim­ple as that.”

Wright’s moxie showed clearly dur­ing one se­quence in the sec­ond half when he scored six straight points, in­clud­ing a layup af­ter steal­ing the ball, shortly af­ter the Blue Demons got to 60-57 with 11 min­utes to play. It was the clos­est they came since 51-50 four min­utes ear­lier.

Ge­orge­town used an 8-0 run shortly there­after to build a 79-65 lead with 2 min­utes 40 sec­onds to play, with Wright mak­ing a free throw to start and close the charge. In be­tween, Wright pen­e­trated deep into the paint and de­liv­ered a pin­point pass to Free­man, who con­verted the short field goal at­tempt.

Wright then got into the lane again only to miss, but drew enough at­ten­tion to leave Henry Sims iso­lated for a tip-in.

“I think that’s some­thing we have the lux­ury of fall­ing back on, not only ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers, but very good play­ers,” Coach John Thomp­son III said. “We felt like we were in quick­sand, par­tic­u­larly in the first half. Chris got go­ing in the sec­ond half, and as al­ways, as Chris gets go­ing, we get go­ing. They cut it to one, and I don’t think any of us were par­tic­u­larly fazed. We knew what we had to do to win the game.”

Lean­ing on the ma­tu­rity of Wright, Free­man and Clark was at the top of that list. It’s the sixth time this sea­son each mem­ber of Ge­orge­town’s big three scored in dou­ble fig­ures, and the Hoyas im­proved to 5-1 in such in­stances.

Free­man drew a charge late in the sec­ond half and fol­lowed that with a bas­ket, and his three-pointer with 6:44 to play gave Ge­orge­town a 71-63 lead. Clark, mean­time, had a hand­ful of ac­ro­batic moves around the bas­ket, in­clud­ing a run­ning one-han­der in the lane with 5:29 left and a three-point play min­utes later that bumped the lead to 15 points.

Clark then got loose for a dunk, and Wright added some show­man­ship of his own by blow­ing by a de­fender for a layup that gave the Hoyas an 86-69 buf­fer with 1:12 to play. DePaul’s suf­fered its 25th straight road loss and 15th straight any­where against con­fer­ence op­po­nents de­spite Ge­orge­town’s 14 turnovers and 39-36 re­bound­ing deficit, in­clud­ing 18-13 of­fen­sively.

“I guess we got stops when we had to com­ing down the stretch,” Thomp­son said. “Ev­ery win is not go­ing to be pretty. To say this was not an ugly win would be an un­der­state­ment, but ev­ery league win is a damn good win, so we’ll take it.”

PRE­STON KERES FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

GE­ORGE­TOWN

86

DEPAUL

75

Guard Ja­son Clark scored 21 points as Ge­orge­town earned its first Big East vic­tory of the sea­son.

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