FRIARS SWEEP GEORGETOWN

It isn’t every year that Providence College travels down to Washington, DC to take on the Georgetown Hoyas and emerge with a win. But that’s exactly what the Friars did late Wednesday evening, when they completed a sweep of the #24 ranked Hoyas, 74-71.

In fact, Providence entered the game 4-23 all-time against Georgetown in Washington and hadn’t earned a win there since 2005. But that all changed with a wild, second-half comeback that left PC with a 17-6 overall record and 7-3 in the Big East.

DIFFERENCES: In the first match-up against Georgetown at the Dunk, a 60-57 overtime win, neither team shot the ball well. It was an old-fashioned Big East rock fight. This game would prove to play out differently, especially in the first half. Georgetown, led by D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, found the range from the perimeter, and hit three of its first five three point attempts. Typically, the Friars are well aware of the outside threats, but PC was repeatedly burned by the suddenly hot Hoyas. A Smith-Rivera three with just two seconds remaining gave the home team a 41-38 halftime lead.

POINT GUARD PLAY: What kept Providence in the game in the first half was a strong performance by Kris Dunn, along with some unusual balance elsewhere. Dunn scored 8 points and had 8 assists in the first half before foul trouble and some additional Hoya attention limited him to 4 points and 1 assist in the second stanza. He also added 6 steals as he terrorized opposing guards and jumped passing lanes all night.

BALANCING ACT: Key to this win was extraordinary balance by Providence. Rather than just relying on Dunn and LaDontae Henton, four Friars scored in double figures and a number of others made significant contributions. Henton and Ben Bentil led the way with 16 points apiece, Carson Desrosiers had 14 and Dunn, 12.

Bentil had his most impressive game of the season, considering the physical opposition. Along with his points, Bentil hit 8-9 free throws and pulled down 11 rebounds. He was especially effective cleaning up inside misses and looked much more aggressive. A Georgetown recruiting target, the Hoyas backed off when Paul White committed and Ed Cooley swooped in to grab Bentil after losing out on Abdul Malik-Abu.

Junior Lomomba and Kyron Cartwright both contributed in smaller, but equally significant ways. Cartwright ran the team well when Dunn went to the bench with his fourth foul with about ten minutes remaining, and also hit a nice midrange jumper in the midst of PC’s comeback. Lomomba, meanwhile, nailed a driving layup and a right baseline jumper that bounced around before dropping in late in the game.

COMEBACK KIDS: As against St. John’s, Providence fell way behind in the second half and then mounted a frantic comeback. Unlike the two St. John’s games, this time the comeback did not fall short. PC found itself trailing 59-46 with 11 minutes left, but a previously cold-shooting Henton nailed a three and PC was ready to take off. Another Henton three and Lomomba’s two buckets sparked a 15-5 run and when Desrosiers hit a lane push shot, PC grabbed the lead, which extended to 68-66 on two Desrosiers’ free throws with 3:16 left.

A critical play came with 1:51 on the clock. Jabril Trawick was fouled by Cartwright on a drive to the hoop and as he fell, Desrosiers, while swatting at the ball, inadvertently hit Trawick also and was called for a flagrant foul, giving Georgetown four free throws and the ball. The Hoyas hit three of the free throws for a 69-68 lead. Henton answered with two free throws after getting fouled in the lane and Smith-Rivera was fouled and made both of his for a 71-70 lead with :45 remaining.

When Joshua Smith committed his fifth foul, Desrosiers calmly sank his two free throws with 32 ticks left and when Dunn couln’t control a loose ball on a steal attempt, Georgetown had another chance. However, Bentil stole L.J. Peak’s inbounds pass and was fouled and the freshman nailed his free throws for a 74-71 Friar lead. Smith-Rivera was short on a three and the Friars had grabbed an impressive road win.

FREEBIES: For the game, PC shot 23-32 from the free throw line, but hit 12 of their last 13, and that proved to be the difference. The final four-plus minutes was a constant parade to the foul line. Georgetown hit its last field goal with 7:41 left, and PC was empty from the floor over the last four and a half minutes. The Friars were also 23-43 from the floor and 5-13 from three for one of their better shooting displays of the season.

INJURIES: The word is that Henton is suffering from a hip injury while Dunn has a sore back after several knocks against St. John’s. Jalen Lindsey is also still nursing a sore Achilles.

MINUTES: Speaking of Lindsey, he and Tyler Harris saw their minutes trimmed against the Hoyas. Lindsey played 12 minutes and scored 4 points while Harris played 13 minutes and shot 1-3, while picking up 4 fouls. Lomomba played 27, while Henton, Desrosiers, Dunn and Bentil all played 30 or more.

NEXT UP: Xavier at the Cintas Center on Saturday at 1 p.m. Xavier, until a late comeback push, was handled well by PC at the Dunk earlier, but shoots the ball much better at home and will be a dangerous team coming off a loss at Creighton. Meanwhile, PC will be looking for road win number four after beating a ranked team on the road for the first time since downing Connecticut in 2004, as the team further burnishes its NCAA resume.

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