Friars Survive Big East Rock Fight vs. Hoyas

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned Big East rock fight to bring out the toughness in your basketball team. And 10,786 rowdy souls were treated to just that on Saturday at noon at the Dunk. Providence dug deep to edge Georgetown, 60-57, in overtime.

This was a game in which neither offense ever really got untracked. Providence shot 28.6 percent in the first half and 29.2 percent in the second half and made just 18 field goals, compared to 21 free throws. But PC heated up just enough in overtime to salvage a huge home court win.

After a 9-3 start by the Friars, Georgetown clawed their way back into the game and the remainder of the first half was an exhibition of inept shooting combined with tough interior defense by both sides. The Friars were helped by two fouls on Josh Smith, which sent him to the bench and limited him to 9 first half minutes. But drives to the rim were met with contact that wasn’t called and neither offense could get into any kind of rhythym. LaDontae Henton was the only Friar who was generating any offense, with 12 points, and PC led at the break, 23-21.

Georgetown quickly erased that lead to open the second half and PC went ice cold from the field. Through more than 9 minutes, Providence had just 7 points on one field goal and trailed 34-30. With 8 minutes to play, the Hoyas had their biggest lead at 41-34 after a Smith layup.

PC answered over the next two minutes with free throws by Jalen Lindsey, a runout dunk by Henton after a block by Carson Desrosiers and knotted the score on a jumper by Kris Dunn. Once again, PC went down quickly on a layup by L.J. Peak and a three point play by Paul White. And once again, the Friars caught the Hoyas as Tyler Harris canned a lane jumper and then buried a huge three pointer.

A layup by Smith-Rivera gave Georgetown the 48-47 lead with 1:42 left. Two free throws by Henton returned the lead to PC and then after a turnover, Henton hit just one of two after being fouled. With :21 seconds left, Georgetown had a chance. White launched a three pointer with eight seconds left and missed but the ball bounced straight to Smith, who banked in a layup with just over a second remaining to send the game to overtime.

In overtime, White canned a quick jumper to give the Hoyas their only lead of the extra session. At that point, Kris Dunn took over the overtime period. First, he hit a driving three point play jumper to put PC up, then after Smith-Rivera missed a three, Dunn buried a three of his own for a 56-52 lead. A missed layup by White was answered by a Desrosiers foul line jumper that rattled in. Josh Smith hit one free throw and after a driving miss by Dunn, Smith rebounded a White three point miss, was fouled and made both to trim the lead to 58-55 with :51 left.

After PC ran clock, Mikael Hopkins blocked a Tyler Harris layup attempt and L.J. Peak raced downcourt for a layup of his own with :16 left that cut PC’s lead to one. Dunn was fouled and knocked down both free throws for a 60-57 margin and Georgetown had one final chance with 10 seconds on the clock.

The Hoyas raced upcourt and attempted to free up Smith-Rivera for a three but he was tightly covered and passed to the right sideline to White, who was quickly trapped by Harris. White attempted to launch a shot but Harris grabbed the ball and PC had escaped with an all-important home win. With the win, the Friars improved to 13-4 on the season and 3-1 in the Big East, while Georgetown dropped to 10-5 and 2-2.

• Shooting was a bugaboo for the Friars, as the team recorded an 18-57 performance from the floor and didn’t hit a second field goal in the second half until Junior Lomomba hit a lane runner with 11:11 on the clock. Three-point shooting was particularly dreadful. The Friars were just 1-12 until late threes by Harris and Dunn. Individually, PC’s leading scorers were Henton with 19 and Dunn with 15, but Henton shot 4-16, while Dunn was 5-15. Henton did hit 10-14 free throws and Dunn 5-6.

• In the first half, Providence held a lead primarily because they were able to outrebound Georgetown, by a 22-19 margin and 7-5 on the offensive boards. In the second half, the Hoyas amped up their efforts on the glass and outrebounded PC 20-15. For the game, the Hoyas had the slight edge, 44-40 and 15-14 on the offensive glass, but PC battled hard over the last ten minutes of the game and in the overtime.

• Georgetown recruited Ben Bentil, but stopped when Paul White committed. White showed his potential with 11 points and 3 blocks in 33 minutes. Meanwhile, Bentil was solid with 7 points and 5 boards in 17 minutes.

• Thank goodness for Mikael Hopkins’ poor free throw shooting. Hopkins was 0-6 from the charity stripe and missed both free throws on three different key occasions.

• After being benched for soft play against Butler, Desrosiers respomded with 9 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and some physical play against a big and strong Georgetown front line, led by the 350 pound Smith, who had 15 points and 12 boards of his own. But Smith was limited to 21 minutes by foul trouble, as he and Jabril Trawick and Hopkins all finished with 4 fouls. For the Friars, Desrosiers, Harris and Henton all gutted it out through overtime with 4 fouls.

• The Friars return to action with a home game against the Red Storm of St. John’s on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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