WASHINGTON (AP)—Cincinnati’s NCAA hopes look quite secure after the school’s first road win over a Top 25 team in seven years, while Georgetown’s immediate future is suddenly very cloudy because of Chris Wright’s broken hand.
Yancy Gates had 17 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday night, and the Bearcats held Georgetown to four field goals in the second half in a 58-46 win over the No. 11 Hoyas.
The win ended Cincinnati’s 20-game road losing streak against ranked teams, their last win coming against then-No. 21 Marquette on Jan. 14, 2004.
It also moved the Bearcats (22-6, 9-6) into a tie for seventh in the Big East standings, which would be good enough for a first-round bye in the conference tournament, and gives another boost to the school’s hopes to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in Mick Cronin’s five seasons as coach. A loss would have dropped them to 11th in the conference.
“This win really helps our cause,” Gates said.
Dion Dixon also scored 17 points, Rashad Bishop had 12, and the Bearcats played more zone than usual to stifle the Hoyas. Georgetown shot 25 percent from the field, its worst shooting game since at least the 1996-97 season.
But the scoresheet wasn’t the biggest concern for the Hoyas (21-7, 10-6)— it was the condition of Wright’s left, non-shooting hand. The senior point guard was hurt with 15:54 remaining when he lost possession in the paint and committed a foul as he reached for the ball. He had his hand wrapped and stayed in the game for another 30 seconds, then left and returned briefly before grabbing his hand in pain, forcing a stoppage in play and sending him to the bench for good with about 11 minutes to go.
Coach John Thompson III said he did not know which bone was broken or have an estimate for how long Wright might be sidelined.
“I think we have to see how he feels,” Thompson said. “I don’t know what it means.”
The injury is potentially a serious blow to the Hoyas’ hopes for a deep postseason run. Wright is averaging 13.1 points, second on the team behind Austin Freeman. He had been playing especially well for the No. 11 Hoyas recently, averaging 21.7 points and shooting 50 percent from the field over his previous three games. He struggled against Cincinnati even before he broke his hand, going 0 for 6 from the field and scoring just two points.
After he left the game for good, the Hoyas were unable to mount any sort of serious comeback threat.
“I just thought we were out of sync,” Thompson said. “I thought we went through a phase where we started feeling sorry for ourselves, which we don’t need to do.”
The Hoyas have lost two of three. Instead of moving into third place in the Big East, which would be worth a double-bye in the conference tournament, they dropped into a tie for fifth.
Freeman broke out of his latest mini-slump to score 19 points for the Hoyas, but he was the only player with any degree of success against a Bearcats team that entered the game leading the Big East in scoring defense, allowing 58.7 points per game.
Overall, Georgetown shot 12 for 48, including 5 for 23 from 3-point range, a stunning display from a team that began the day shooting 49.7 from the field— second in the nation. The Hoyas were 4 for 23 in the second half.
The teams were tied at 26 at halftime, but the Hoyas missed their first eight shots of the second half and committed seven turnovers before finally making a field goal—Hollis Thompson’s 3-pointer with 9:31 remaining. By then, the Bearcats had opened the half with a 17-3 run to take a 43-28 lead. Gates scored seven points during the run and was an offensive rebounding force who kept possessions alive.
Georgetown stayed as close as it did because of the game’s free-throw discrepancy. The Hoyas made 17 of 20 from the line; the Bearcats took only two free throws in the first 35 minutes and finished 9 for 13 because Georgetown was forced to foul late.
Gates’ three-point play put the Bearcats ahead 48-35 with 4:43 to play. Freeman’s fast-break layup and Vee Sanford’s 3-pointer got the Hoyas within eight, but Bishop banked in a 3-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire to restore a double-digit lead with 3:13 to play. Freeman looked exasperated, slumping his shoulders and rolling his eyes as the shot went in.
“I was surprised it went in, too,” Bishop said. “When it went in, I was just happy. It gave us some breathing room after they made a couple of shots, got the crowd back into it, so that was a big play.”