First Half Dooms Friars Against Hoyas

After logging their first road win and Big East win of the season at Seton Hall the Friars travelled to the nations capital to take on the Georgetown University Hoyas. A second half fight wasn't enough to overcome a first half struggle, and the Hoyas defeated the Friars, 74-65.

A Tale of Two Halves: The difference between the first and second half of the game was night and day for the Friars. Offensively the Friars couldn't buy their way to a bucket in the first half, shooting just 27% on 8-29 from the field. Bryce Cotton, who leads the Big East in scoring at 21.6 ppg, only logged 5 points after 20 minutes of basketball. One of the biggest struggles came from beyond the arc, where the Friars only connected on one of eight attempts. Defensively the Friars were no better, allowing Georgetown to connect on 16 of their 24 attempts, good for 66% shooting from the field for the Hoyas. Even being down 19 at the half, 19-38, the bigger concern was the sluggish performance. Providence simply showed no urgency during their scoring droughts or when they were routinely shredded on defense.

Providence woke up in the second half. After a three point shot from Bryce Cotton the Friars woke up and put together a 15-2 run to stop the bleeding and come within nine of the Hoyas. The run seemed to awaken the Friars, who were now playing aggressively on defense (setting up traps and forcing Georgetown out of their comfort zone) and making smarter decisions on offense.

Scoring alone showed a remarkable improvement from the first half – the Friars again took 29 attempts but converted on 14 of them, good for 48%. Meanwhile, the Hoyas were brought back down to earth after aggressive Friar defense and only hit 9 of their 23 attempts, good for 39%. PC also showed marked improvement from the three point range, shooting 6-12 in the second half. During the second half stretch the Friars were able to get key Georgetown players in foul trouble, as starters Otto Porter Jr. (who finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds) and Nate Lubick (10 points, 4 rebounds) would both foul out during critical runs for the Friars. In both instances Providence had cut the Hoya lead to single digits but could not overcome the deficit entirely, only coming within 7.

Boxed Out: After struggling to get his offensive flow going, Josh Fortune only saw six minutes of action for the Friars. Despite starting for Providence, his role has become more and more limited, all leading up to his 0-1 shot attempts in six minutes against the Hoyas. Kris Dunn, who has played off the bench, has seen his responsibilities increase as he becomes more adjusted to the college game. With 8 points in 25 minutes on 3-6 shooting Dunn is quickly evolving his game to higher levels of comfort. Unlike the frontcourt – which at this point seems stapled with Kadeem Batts, LaDontae Henton, and Sidiki Johnson with occasional minutes from Brice Kofane and Lee Goldsbrough – there is a significant chance that should this trend continue, Ed Cooley may change the starting rotation even further.

Quiet and Curious: LaDontae Henton once again had a double-double despite shooting only 3-12 from the field. He rang in 14 points and also grabbed 10 boards for the Friars, helping Providence outrebound Georgetown 39-27. However, his performance felt underwhelming. Too many failed shot attempts and lackluster defense (several replays showed the Hoyas working by Henton) has raised questions about an ongoing trend with the sophomore. Was his freshman year a fluke? Is he dealing with a sophomore slump? A bad stretch of performances? While the 37 point scoring performance against Brown has faded into the season, defense remains LaDontae's primary issue, an issue that fans will wait to see addressed in forthcoming matchups against Villanova and Pitt.

Bad Timing: The Friars again struggled with protecting the ball, turning it over to the Hoyas 16 times for the game, which resulted in 21 points for Georgetown. While the numbers alone are bad, the impact on the game was even more bothersome. Turnovers came at inopportune times for the Friars, which allowed Georgetown to hang onto their lead and silence PC whenever Providence started to crawl back in the second half. Whether it was a bad pass to someone's ankles (or a pass catching Ted Bancroft in the head), a pass coming in too hot, or simply being careless with the ball, Providence helped dig it's own grave with their passing decisions.

The Friars return to action back home Saturday at 4:00 against Villanova.

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