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Second-Half Struggles: Georgetown Falters After the Half, Loses to Providence, 74-69

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Hoyas Can’t Hold Halftime Lead as Offense Sputters

NCAA Basketball: Providence at Georgetown Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight game, Georgetown couldn’t sustain a halftime lead at home, this time falling to Providence, 74-69. The Hoyas shot just 28 percent from the field after the break, a disappointing regression after a hot first half. For their part, the Friars found their groove after the break, hitting perimeter shooters in transition and shutting down the Hoyas on defense. After falling behind by double digits, Georgetown battled back within a single point with a minute to play, but couldn’t complete the comeback.

Jessie Govan led the way, racking up 20 points and 12 rebounds, and notching his 1,000th career point in the process. Marcus Derrickson struggled with his shot for much of the day but converted a couple of late post-ups to keep the Hoyas alive, and finished with his own double-double of 11 points and 15 rebounds.

Georgetown led for much of the first half, pushing the pace to get points early in the shot clock and, when that didn’t work, moving the ball quickly to find the open shooter. Ball penetration found Derrickson and then Jamorko Pickett (12 points, 3 rebounds) for open triples. The Friars helped things along by coming out ice cold, making just 6 of their first 21 field-goal attempts. All of those misses yielded long rebounds that jump-started the Hoya attack, as Jagan Mostly (12 points, 5 assists) drove for a handful of early points on the break. A transition three by Jahvon Blair made the Hoya lead 23-15.

Out of a timeout, Providence seemed to have awakened, and began pushing the ball off of Hoya misses and finding perimeter shooters for a pair of transition three-pointers. No sooner had the Friars tied the game than the Hoyas rattled off 7 straight of their own to reclaim the lead, which stood at 5 at the half.

The second half was a different story. Forty-eight hours removed from a frustrating multi-day loss to Seton Hall that had to be suspended overnight because of court conditions, Providence shook off the early sluggishness and looked fresh after the break. The Friars got back better in transition and, in the half court, harassed Govan and Derrickson in the post. The Georgetown offense shut down, making just one field goal over the first nine-plus minutes of the second half. During that swoon, a 5-point Hoya lead became an equal deficit, fueled in part by two Providence free throws resulting from a technical foul called on a frustrated Ewing.

The frustration didn’t end there, as Friar wing Rodney Bullock shook free for 3 three-pointers in as many minutes, doubling the Providence advantage to 10. Each triple resulted from Bullock springing open, the last time on a baseline out-of-bounds play in which Georgetown just fell asleep.

Still, the Hoyas battled back. A round-about-and-in triple by Govan made the deficit just four, and, after a Providence basket, a Mosely and-one made it just three. The Hoyas kept better track of Bullock and the other Providence shooters. Derrickson, after a frustrating day that included a lower-leg injury, twice battled down low for post-up opportunities that made it a one point game with one to play.

Looking for a stop, Georgetown played 20-plus seconds of stout defense, only to bite on a shot fake by Alpha Diallo, who instead drove to the basket for a lay-up and the foul. After Diallo missed the free throw, the Hoyas still had the chance to tie, down 3 with 38 seconds to play.

Out of a timeout, Georgetown got the ball to Mosely, who brought it across the court, looking for Derrickson or Pickett on the right wing. Neither was open. The ball swung back to Blair who, on a pick from Govan, got a Providence big man switched onto him. But Blair just isn’t dangerous enough at this stage in his career to punish a slower big man off the dribble. Instead, he could manage only an awkward floater that didn’t come close. Providence sealed the game at the line.

Today wasn’t a travesty, but it was another reminder of the limitations of Georgetown’s current personnel. Without reliable guard play, particularly on offense, the Hoyas couldn’t generate much offense after the half, once the Friars started playing Govan and Derrickson more aggressively. And the final look for Blair, while not scripted, would have yielded a better shot in different hands.

The loss drops the Hoyas to 15-12, 5-11 in Big East play. For a Georgetown group that returned for a 3-game home stand coming off a pair of exciting wins, the loss to Providence, like that to Xavier earlier in the week, is disappointing. The defeat also is the Hoyas’ eighth straight to Providence, which always seems to muck the game up and execute just enough down the stretch to win. With Marquette visiting on Monday, the Hoyas still have one chance, but little time to prepare, to close out their home schedule on a positive note.