PROVIDENCE – 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 wasn’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.
“That’s best defensive team I’ve seen in a long time,” Cooley said. “Everyone talks about Syracuse’s length. We’ve played both teams twice and Georgetown is as long and as physical as any team.”
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 Saturday’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 PC’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 Georgetown’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 Georgetown’s web of denial, the Hoyas becoming the second straight visiting team to hold the Friars to less than 60 points at home.
“I’ve come to expect a lot from this group,” 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 puncher’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.
“We should have been down by 90 at halftime,” 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. “I’m going to give them (Sunday and Monday) off and then we’re going to practice only one hour a day,” Cooley said. “As we get to the end of the year, we need to make sure we’re sharp so long practices aren’t in play. We just need to get in and get out and make sure we do a good job.”
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.
“I think they see a team that is competing. They want to get behind the team and I’m hoping they see the changes that we’re making fundamentally,” Cooley said. “I think they see a future of a good team that’s about to come to Providence. Right now we’re just not there.
“I don’t want the fans to get discouraged by the losses,” Cooley continued. “I want them to be encouraged by the things these young men have done and be encouraged with what we have moving forward. I’m proud of our group but even more proud of the support we’ve been getting.”