Freeman leads No. 21 Hoyas over No. 8 'Nova 69-66
PHILADELPHIA – Austin Freeman took over the game. His teammates knew he was doing it and had no problem about it.
"We wanted to concentrate on getting the ball to Austin," Georgetown point guard Chris Wright said. "It's stupid not to give him the ball."
The 21st-ranked Hoyas were smart enough to make sure Freeman had the ball in the final minutes and he responded by scoring 10 of their final 12 points — he had an assist on the other two — and finished with 30 in a 69-66 victory over No. 8 Villanova on Saturday.
"Austin Freeman is unflappable in most situations," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "What he did in the last 4 minutes is indicative of what he's done for the last four years."
Jason Clark added 10 points for the Hoyas, who won their fourth straight after a three-game losing streak. Wright, who came in averaging 12.8 points, didn't score but had six assists and four rebounds.
Freeman said the winning streak "builds our confidence but we know we still have to get better. We'll learn from this game."
Antonio Pena had 10 points for the Wildcats, who have lost three of four overall and dropped to 0-4 this season when being held under 70 points.
"Georgetown just played better tonight," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We made a run at the end but they just played smarter and better early in the game.
"We are close to being the team we want to be but we definitely are not there yet."
Freeman, the Big East preseason player of the year, took over the offense by himself as the Hoyas (16-5, 5-4) lost most of a nine-point lead with 5 minutes to play.
Georgetown entered the game second in the nation in field goal percentage (50.8) and finished 24 of 46 (52.2 percent).
The Wildcats (17-4, 5-3) cut the lead to one point three times in the final 1:15 and each time Freeman found a way to get the lead back to three.
"Put the ball in his hands and good things happen even is he's double-teamed or triple-teamed," Thompson said.
Corey Fisher, who finished with 15 points, got Villanova within 63-62 with two free throws with 1:15 to go. Freeman hit a side jumper — the officials reviewed it because he was close to the 3-point line — with 5 seconds left on the shot clock.
"I looked at the shot clock and I knew there was around 4 seconds left," he said in his usual stoic manner.
Maalik Wayns, who also had 15 points, made two free throws with 33 seconds left to get Villanova within 65-64. This time Freeman didn't score, but his hard pass from just inside halfcourt found Nate Lubick alone under the basket for a dunk with 24 seconds to go.
"If I have the opportunity to shoot I'm going to take it," Freeman said. "Otherwise, I'll look for a teammate. I have confidence in myself and I have confidence in my teammates."
Jay Wright joined the Freeman fan club.
"He made every play down the stretch. He made shots. He made free throws. And he made that pass," Wright said. "We had him trapped. He was strong enough to get it to Lubick who made a good catch. He's great. I love that kid."
Wayns brought the Wildcats within one for what would be the last time at 67-66 on a drive with 16 seconds to go.
Villanova fouled Freeman with 14 seconds left and he completed an 8-for-8 effort from the line with two more free throws.
Pena got off a 3-point attempt that Villanova was able to rebound, but Dominic Cheek couldn't get a second attempt to tie before the buzzer sounded.
It was the third time this season Freeman has scored at least 30 points, and he finished with six assists and four rebounds. He also did an outstanding job defending Villanova's Corey Stokes, who finished 4 of 10 from the field and had 13 points.
"We wanted to focus on Fisher, Wayns and Stokes," Thompson said. "Stokes is a big-time shooter and we wanted to limit his shots."
Jay Wright said Stokes injured a toe in the first half and was limited, but he still wanted in the game for his shooting and he finished 3 of 6 from 3-point range.
"He played hurt," Jay Wright said. "We wanted him playing, even at 70 percent."