Hoyas Slug Way Past Friars, 49-40

Providence traveled to Washington, DC for a New Year's Eve matchup with the 12th ranked Georgetown Hoyas, but there will be no Happy New Year celebration for the Friars, as they dropped a tough, 49-40 slugfest to John Thompson III's crew.

Providence could not have played worse offensively in the first half. The Friars led briefly, at 4-2, but quickly dug themselves into a seemingly impossible hole against Georgetown, going ice cold on the offensive end.

With twelve minutes gone, the Hoyas led 17-4, and PC was on life support. Coming off the 91-67 thrashing by St. John's, the Friars seemed nervous, jittery and apprehensive. They lacked any of the confidence built in their 11-2 non-conference start. But, lost in their offensive woes, was the fact they were actually playing well defensively.

With their offense executing so poorly, the Hoyas could have blown PC out early. But Georgetown was missing just enough that when Bilal Dixon swished two free throws and LaDontae Henton raced out for a lay-up, PC trailed by just 17-10, with six minutes to play.

Jason Clark answered with a three and an Otto Porter jumper pushed it to 24-10, but Georgetown would score just one more basket in the last four minutes of the half, allowing PC to close within 27-19 at halftime. Providence, outsized across the floor, played a soft zone that cheated inside, daring the Hoyas to beat them with outside jump shots and that is not Georgetown's game. On the other side, led by center Henry Sims, the Hoyas had succeeded in making this a half court game, swallowing the Friars whenever a PC player attempted to go inside.

The offensive struggles continued in the second half for both teams. Six minutes into the half, each team had scored just six points and Georgetown still led, 32-25. At this point, Providence attempted to up the pace of the game.

Vincent Council, who had struggled badly with shooting and turnovers in the first half, found his groove and dished to Bryce Cotton for a three. Council passed to Gerard Coleman, who flew to the basket for a lay-up and Council nailed a midrange jumper to cut the lead to 35-32 with twelve minutes left.

Coming out of a timeout, Georgetown switched back to a zone to slow PC and Council down. The tactic was effective, as PC's offense again ground to a halt. But PC's defense was also forcing jump shots and misses, and two Kadeem Batts' free throws narrowed the gap to one. Henton rebounded a Bryce Kofane miss and was fouled. With a chance to give PC the lead, Henton hit the first free throw, knotting the score, but missed the second. Still, with eight minutes left, it was a new ballgame.

Georgetown answered with a Clark lay-up off an offensive rebound, two Sims' free throws and a Sims' layup after forcing a Batts' miss. Now Georgetown quickly led 41-35. PC had one last answer. With five minutes left, Council buried a three pointer, and after a Hollis Thompson miss, Council passed to Henton for a layup, cutting the lead to 41-40. With 4:41 left, those would be the last points of the game for Providence.

PC had their chances. They forced a Sims' miss, but Porter rebounded and scored. With the score stuck on 43-40, Coleman missed two free throws, Cotton rebounded but Council missed a three, Coleman rebounded but Batts missed a jumper. Give Georgetown that many chances and they will begin to make plays. With a minute left, Sims knocked down a free throw, Markel Starks scored after a rebound off of Sims' miss, and Clark closed it out with a three point play.

Both teams shot horrendously, Providence was just enough worse. The Friars shot 13-53, which was a school-record worst .245 percentage. The Friars hit just 3-13 threes and 11-20 free throws (55%). Meanwhile, Georgetown shot 18-60 (30%), 3-19 from three and 10-15 from the charity stripe. PC actually outrebounded the bigger Hoyas, 42-41, but had 13 turnovers to Georgetown's 8.

Individually, PC had two players in double figures. Henton led the way with 13 points and 14 rebounds, while Council scored 10 points along with 6 assists. Cotton was held to 6 points, while Coleman struggled with 3 points, on 1-10 shooting and 1-8 free throw shooting. Coleman forced two threes late, both of which missed badly, and his free throw misses, timing-wise, were killers.

Offensively, this was the second game this season that PC set new school records both for lowest field goal percentage ever in a game and fewest field goals made ever in a game. The 40 points scored was PC's fewest in a game in the shot clock era and the fewest in a game since they scored 38 points against Georgetown on February 18, 1984. Obviously, this is a team that is going to struggle mightily to score in some games this year.

Defensively, Ed Cooley got what he was looking for after the St. John's game. The team played much tougher, rebounded harder, and generally did a good job shutting down a good Georgetown team. After all, the Hoyas scored just 49 points and shot just 30%. But the good defense just wasn't rewarded enough with offense and in the end, 40 points isn't enough to win games in the Big East.

PC drops to 11-4 and a quick 0-2 in the Big East, but can hold their heads up after a gutty performance. Next up, a 9:00 matchup on Wednesday with #1 ranked Syracuse. The road gets no easier for the Friars.

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