GEORGETOWN — Thank goodness for Georgetown, the Tigers know how to make free throws. At least, that was the case Thursday night as the NAIA's 13th-ranked team held off St. Catharine 86-81 in a Mid-South Conference grudge match.
Georgetown finished 34 of 39 at the foul line, where the Patriots went 19 of 26.
"That saved the game right there, making free throws," Georgetown Coach Chris Briggs said. "We didn't do so well the other day, and put a big emphasis on it the last couple days at practice. And it paid off."
Georgetown (18-5, 9-3 MSC) avenged a 103-90 loss, suffered Jan. 11 on the road.
"There was a lot of trash talking," said Monty Wilson, who led the Tigers with 23 points. "We wanted this one. We knew it was going to be a tough one, but we pulled it out."
Wilson's production came on 15-for-16 shooting at the free-throw line.
"We make 80 out of 100 every practice," the 6-foot-4 senior said, "and last practice we made 160 out of 200, so that's why."
Trenity Burdine added 14 points for the winners and Noah Cottrill had 13. Deondre McWhorter and Dominique Hagans each scored 10, with the former grabbing 13 rebounds and the latter dishing out four assists.
St. Catharine (13-8, 7-5) got 16 points each from Omar Skinner and William Tolefree. Romeo Lewis and Raymon Austin scored 10 each, with Austin snaring nine rebounds.
Georgetown led 46-38 at halftime, shooting 51.6 percent (16 of 31) to the Patriots' 40.5 (15 of 37).
The Tigers' Montavious Marc picked up two fouls in the first 1:09 and sat the rest of the half.
Wilson paced Georgetown with 12 first-half points. Skinner had nine for St. Catharine.
St. Catharine opened the second half with a 17-8 run to take a 55-54 lead.
Taron Franklin's fast-break basket tied the score at 52.
After McWhorter hit two free throws for Georgetown, Lewis capped the Patriots' flurry with a three-point play.
The game was tied at 63 midway through the second half, when Georgetown went on a 9-2 run to take a seven-point lead. All nine points came at the free-throw line, including five by Wilson.
The Patriots kept hanging close, though, and pulled to within 82-79 when Skinner sank two free throws with 1:40 left.
With the shot clock winding down, Cottrill stuck a dagger into the Patriots, dropping in a three-point shot with 1:11 to play, making it 85-79.
St. Catharine cut the deficit to 85-81 on Austin's basket with 53 seconds left, but came up empty on its last two possessions.
Marc hit one of two free throws with 5.2 seconds left to give the Tigers a five-point margin.
"Just taking care of the ball and holding off their runs — I thought we did a pretty good job of that," Briggs said in listing keys to the game other than free throws. "I'd like to not let them have runs. But when they did make runs, we were able to hold them off and answer with big baskets or big shots."
St. Catharine shot 51.7 percent from the field in the second half, finishing at 45.5 overall (30 of 66). Georgetown slipped to 34.8 in the second half and wound up 44.4 overall (24 of 54).