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PROVIDENCE â€“ Hoya Destroya, indeed.
A Georgetown team that figures to be a tough out come NCAA Tournament time slowed the Providence College Friars to a virtual crawl Saturday night in a 63-53 Hoya win that wasnâ€™t even as close as the final score indicates. PC shot 25.9 percent for the game after compiling a 4-for-28 horror show in the first half. Such a frigid display made the task of trying to shock the 10th-ranked team in the country even more of a tall order, one that PC coach Ed Cooley openly acknowledged during his postgame meeting with the press.
â€śThatâ€™s best defensive team Iâ€™ve seen in a long time,â€ť Cooley said. â€śEveryone talks about Syracuseâ€™s length. Weâ€™ve played both teams twice and Georgetown is as long and as physical as any team.â€ť
Georgetown picked up its 20th game of the season and improved to 10-4 in the Big East. The Friars (13-15, 2-13) lost for the ninth time in 10 tries and will carry a five-game skid into next Saturdayâ€™s game at DePaul, a contest that could very well determine which team heads to the Big East Tournament as the No. 16 seed.
Not having Gerard Coleman (flu) available all but took away PCâ€™s transition game as the Friars managed just eight fastbreak points, such a low number speaking volumes of Georgetown controlled the pace in this one, forcing the Friars to try and grind it out in a half-court setting. Providence never once led while Georgetownâ€™s biggest advantage was 15 points with 4:49 remaining in the second half.
The only Friar who shot better than 50 percent was Ron Giplaye, who was 3-for-4 with two putbacks and a highlight-reel alley-oop slam dunk in the second half that served as one of the few highlights. LaDontae Henton (1-of-9, seven points), Bryce Cotton (3-of-17, nine points) and Vincent Council (4-of-14, 13 points) all fell victim to Georgetownâ€™s web of denial, the Hoyas becoming the second straight visiting team to hold the Friars to less than 60 points at home.
â€śIâ€™ve come to expect a lot from this group,â€ť noted Georgetown head coach John Thompson III.
The first half was nothing short of a basketball nightmare. PC missed 20 straight shots at one point, such bricklaying tendencies aiding in Georgetown taking a 31-20 lead into halftime. The Friars generated more points at the foul line (11-of-16, 21-of-31 for the game) than from the field (nine), an almost unheard of development that once again illustrates how stingy Georgetown was.
The Hoyas were sitting on an eight-point lead when a Friar slip up on defense resulted in Hollis Thompson (13 points, 10 rebounds) banging home a trey from the left wing as the horn sounded. Instead of heading into the locker room thinking they at least a puncherâ€™s chance, Cooley and the Friars limped off knowing they missed a golden chance to stay somewhat close to the Hoyas as the second half got underway.
â€śWe should have been down by 90 at halftime,â€ť Cooley deadpanned.
The Friars fared a little bit better from the floor in the second half, shooting 38.5 percent. Any chance of a comeback, however, was seriously doused as PC shot just 26 percent shooting from beyond the arc (4-for-21) against a Georgetown team that coming in ranked first in the conference in defending the three. The Friars got to within eight (58-50) after Council nailed a 3-ball with 1:27 to play before the Hoyas put the clamps down for good.
Faced with a week away from game competition, the plan is for the Friars to focus more on the mental than the physical aspect. â€śIâ€™m going to give them (Sunday and Monday) off and then weâ€™re going to practice only one hour a day,â€ť Cooley said. â€śAs we get to the end of the year, we need to make sure weâ€™re sharp so long practices arenâ€™t in play. We just need to get in and get out and make sure we do a good job.â€ť
Cooley was asked about the near-sellout crowd of 11,563 with respects to why fans continue to show up when the team they pay good money to see is struggling.
â€śI think they see a team that is competing. They want to get behind the team and Iâ€™m hoping they see the changes that weâ€™re making fundamentally,â€ť Cooley said. â€śI think they see a future of a good team thatâ€™s about to come to Providence. Right now weâ€™re just not there.
â€śI donâ€™t want the fans to get discouraged by the losses,â€ť Cooley continued. â€śI want them to be encouraged by the things these young men have done and be encouraged with what we have moving forward. Iâ€™m proud of our group but even more proud of the support weâ€™ve been getting.â€ť