Hoyas defense dominant, Friars comeback falls short
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Twenty great minutes of basketball might be good enough to win in a lot of places.
But not in the Big East, and certainly not on the floor of the Georgetown Hoyas, one of the league’s premier defensive teams throughout the history of the conference. Georgetown (12-3, 2-2 Big East) played a smothering, almost suffocating man-to-man defense on Providence in the first half, and held on for a 74-65 win over the Friars at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC Wednesday night.
Hoping to capitalize on their own defensive efforts in a road win at Seton Hall last Sunday, the Friars were hit in the mouth early – and often – by a Hoyas’ defense that was almost brutal at times. An early 10-0 run put Georgetown out front 12-3 in the opening six minutes, and the lead grew to 10 (22-12) at the ten-minute mark.
Led by pre-season all-Big East first-teamer Otto Porter, the Hoyas also shot lights-out (67%) from the floor in their near-perfect half of basketball, getting two big threes from seldom-used forward Aaron Bowen. Missing on just eight shots the entire half, Georgetown had PC down 38-19 at the break.
Conversely, the Friars couldn’t find the range on shots contested or otherwise, hitting only 27% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. A 14-3 GU run over the last eight minutes was particularly impressive, no matter who you rooted for.
Wherever the Friars were, there was a gray-shirted Hoya on top of the play. Instead of having the requisite five players on the floor, it seemed as if there were several more. PC hit just four of their final 20 shots of the period - in a near-perfect half of basketball for GU.
After extending the lead to 22 in the opening three minutes of the second half, Providence (9-8, 1-4 Big East) began to apply their own defensive pressure and quickened the pace of the game more to their liking. A monster 17-3 run pulled the Friars back within eight at 46-38 with 12:54 still to play.
It was still an eight-point game halfway through the period when the Hoyas found their range again, with Porter, junior guard Markel Starks and freshman guard DeVauntes Smith-Rivera pulling GU back up by 15 with 6:31 left. Even then, PC managed another 9-2 run with full-court pressure to slice the lead back down to seven with 2:10 to play, as both Porter and junior forward Nate Lubick fouled out.
It was simply too deep of a hole for the Friars to dig themselves out of, however. Normally just a mediocre free-throw shooting team (65%), Georgetown hit 17-of-22 from the line in the second half to maintain the lead.
And maintain their mastery over Providence. Despite ringing up 46 second half points on one of the nation’s top defenses (Georgetown ranks 11th in scoring defense), Providence has now lost eight in a row to the Hoyas.
Even 20 good minutes can’t always get you what you want, when you’re on the road in the Big East.
While the first half defensive effort left something to be desired, PC’s effort on the backboards was solid. The Friars out-rebounded the bigger Hoyas 39-27, including a whopping 17-5 edge on the offensive glass. It was their largest margin over an opponent this season on the boards. Such was the defensive effort of Georgetown, however, that the Friars couldn’t capitalize on their putbacks… Bryce Cotton led all scorers with 21 points, including 16 in the second half, while LaDontae Henton and Kadeem Batts both contributed double-doubles. Henton had 14 points and 10 rebounds, Batts 10 points and 11 boards…Porter led Georgetown with 20 points and eight rebounds, Starks scored 16 and Southborough, MA native Lubick had 10. For the game, the Hoyas shot 53%, and 41% from three. They also forced 16 PC turnovers, scoring 21 points off of the mistakes…before the game, Georgetown announced an indefinite academic suspension for 6-8 sophomore forward Greg Whittington. Whittington was initially suspended for GU’s win over St. John’s last Saturday…the Friars return home to the Dunkin Donuts Center to face Villanova Saturday in a 4:00 pm tip-off. Prior to the game, the annual Friar Alumni basketball game will be held at the Dunk starting at 12 Noon. The Alumni game is free, and open to the public…