Hoyas hold off South Florida

After a standout performance helped No. 9 Georgetown defeat USF 61-55 on Saturday, Hoyas guard Chris Wright walked off the Sun Dome court shaking his head.

“It was a tough game,” he said. “I’m glad we got out of there with a win. I was just ready to get out of there.”

With 55 seconds left, Georgetown (21-6, 10-5) led by four when USF point guard Anthony Crater stole an inbounds pass trying to get the Bulls within one score. But the possession ended abruptly for the Bulls when Hugh Robertson had his shot attempt blocked, allowing Georgetown to secure its win from the foul line.

Wright hit all six of his free throws in the final minute to ice the Bulls (8-20, 2-13), finishing with a game-high 26 points.

Despite falling short, USF did many things right.

The Bulls out-rebounded the Hoyas, committed only eight turnovers and held Georgetown’s leading scorer Austin Freeman to just four points. They got the ball inside early and often, scoring 36 points in the paint.

USF forward Augustus Gilchrist had 22 points and seven rebounds, scoring above his season average for the first time in seven games.

“He really bounced back strong. We’re a different team when he’s playing that way,” coach Stan Heath said. “Give him a lot of credit. He’s recognized that he wasn’t playing up to the level he can, got in the gym, worked harder … and got terrific carry-over in this game.”

Perimeter shooting proved to be the difference in the game, with the Hoyas hitting 6-of-13 3-point attempts and shooting above 50 percent for the game. The Bulls’ team defense took away Georgetown layups, but at the expense of guarding the 3-point line.

“I’d like for us to be aggressive, but we would have gotten eaten alive with backdoor layups,” Heath said. “We picked our poison, they made their 3s and that was the difference in the game.”

USF turned 17 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points but could not convert outside shots, shooting just 1 of 12 from 3-point range. The Bulls struggled to score, despite taking 16 more shot attempts than Georgetown.

The score was tied at 28 early in the second half. After a Bulls’ lapse in offensive production that included four straight turnovers, the Hoyas built an eight-point lead, which ballooned to 11 later in the half.

USF got no closer than four points the rest of the game.

The outcome was yet another example of how the Bulls have been just a few plays away from beating good teams.

“I think our guys recognize that even though our record looks like we’re a bad team that we’re not what our record indicates, that we’re going to fight you and we’re going to battle,” Heath said. “At some point in time, we’re going to turn the corner and be on the other end of the four- or five-point games.”

The Bulls have dropped six straight games, with four of those losses coming against ranked opponents. USF has a week off before its next game Saturday at DePaul, the only team in the conference with a worse record.

The Blue Demons are one of two Big East teams that the Bulls have beaten this year, but USF has yet to win a road game.