There were two things that your Georgetown Hoyas and I had in common by the end of Wednesday night's game. We both were tired, and we both had a cough. The fatigue was clearly visible for the Hoyas in the waning minutes of this contest, with the Hoyas going the last 7:41 of the game without a field goal. And the cough? I'm making that assumption because of the way the Hoyas coughed up both a 13-point second half lead and the ball 15 times on turnovers.
This one had all the makings of a typical "Heart Attack Hoyas" win, but this time, it was not to be. People may be heaping blame on the failed execution off the inbound pass with 10 seconds left. It's also quite tough to win when your shots are not falling late and Providence is bullying its way to the free throw line, as it had done all game. Providence earned 32 free throws this game, and while I'm usually quick to voice my displeasure with the referees, that is still something the Hoyas need to avoid.
It also didn't help that on the offensive end, the Hoyas had to rely on their jump shot. It helped that the Hoyas seemed to be making everything in the first half, but the shooting touch went away as the game went on, and Providence's zone prevented Joshua Smith from receiving the ball very often down low. Even when Smith did get the ball, Providence had enough size in either Paschal Chukwu or Carson Desrosiers to force Smith into a bad shot or even block him.
The Hoyas defense also had trouble keeping Providence down, as the Friars still shot 53.5% from the field. I was personally surprised by the way Friars forward Ben Bentil lit us up, as he went for 16 points and 11 rebounds despite not being considered one of the stars of Providence's team. It didn't matter how Providence came at the Hoyas but they were making every shot (especially in the second half.) Off balance layups, contested three pointers, runners from the baseline—it seemed like all of them were falling.
In the student section, meanwhile, attendance was better than the Xavier game (from what I have seen in pictures, since I was too sick to attend), but the crowd was remarkably quiet for most of the game. It didn't help that my voice was still not 100% after my illness and that I had to wear a scarf and gargle water throughout the game to make sure that I didn't cough up a lung. The lack of Big Heads, which can be slapped for additional noise, didn't help either. I tried to get our side to, in the first half, do something similar to what my friend the "Cheer Bear" has done in the past during 2nd half free throws. Only one or two people joined in while most other people either didn't see or didn't get it, so I just resorted to running back to where I could be seen through the backboard and jumping in an effort to distract free throw shooters. Fortunately, it worked a couple of times. Also, I'm glad that the two winners of the "Relay for Life" seats up front were two girls who, as the game went along, brought more girls to cheer up front next to me. It was a strange feeling. The number of women surrounding me was slowly multiplying. I can only hope that this keeps happening on a regular basis.
The quiet crowd was also apparent when I'd try to start or help amplify a chant, and while the Hoya Blue regulars and diehard fans in the first couple of rows were cheering, I'd turn around and see students who were completely silent. I understand that in some cultures, silence is a way of showing interest and appreciation. But this is not one of them. If you come to these games, there's an implicit obligation that you cheer for your team. Fortunately, the crowd piped up in the last 3 minutes, with the break in the action after the technical on Desrosiers allowing the crowd to break out a loud "Hoya Saxa" chant and realize that yes, they are allowed to cheer.
Also, at the start of the second half, I apparently made it onto the TV broadcast. I was trying to cheer, but my face came out looking like I was angry, shocked, and disappointed, which made it quite an appropriate representation of how I felt at the end of this game. (If anybody can make that into a meme, that would be awesome and I would be honored.) To be fair, I did actually look kind of like that after the buzzer sounded. I stood there for two or three minutes, frozen. How could this team lose this game? How did this happen?
But looking back on it, the Hoyas definitely had bright spots that are worth taking away from this game. D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the Hoyas with 21 points and 5 3-pointers. Isaac Copeland continued to show his development with 10 points and 7 rebounds off the bench. Birthday boy Tre Campbell also added 10 points, and Joshua Smith also put in quite the interesting stat line with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals before fouling out late. The Hoyas, in an intriguing development, also showed sustained competence on offense against a pretty strong zone for the first 30 minutes of this game, and I would attribute the late game failures to exhaustion from a 9 pm game. That may actually be a reason for the loss. Science backs me up on this.
This one may seem bad now, but this team is still in good shape. This just wasn't the best night for them. I'm confident that they'll be able to return to their winning ways soon. I also promise that I'll try to get my voice completely back for the next home game vs. St. John's and try to get more students to come. If you're reading this and are a student, be sure to come out to the game on the 17th.
Hoya Saxa! Beat 'Nova, Seton Hall, and St. John's!