Your Georgetown Fighting Hoyas continued a season-long trend of strong road play Wednesday night by beating the Providence Friars, 76-67, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
All five Georgetown starters scored in double figures, led by Joshua LeBlanc, who had 17 points, a game-high 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a handful of highlight-reel plays that seem to come every game to the Hoya super hero. On a night when the offense was balanced, LeBlanc became the fifth Hoya to lead the team in scoring in as many conference wins. His freshmen classmates also played big parts in the win, with James Akinjo setting handing out 8 assists and hitting some critical free throws, and Mac McClung making plays in the open court to the tune of 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.
The Hoyas’ freshmen led a second-half surge that a viewer of the first half scarcely could have imagined. Through 16 minutes, the Hoyas and Friars were locked in a half-court battle of futility, with neither side able to generate much of anything in the half court. The teams conspired to leave one four-minute stretch of play entirely fallow, with nary a point gracing the hoop. A slow pace with physical play favored the hometown Friars, who like to keep things tight on offense and tighter still on defense. But Georgetown hung around before the break, scrapping a bucket here and there to keep things close.
The turning point came just before the half, when Georgetown scored 11 straight points to take control of the game. All of those points came off live-ball situations, where the Hoyas regained possession when Providence either missed or turned the ball over. Georgetown deftly pushed the pace, with Akinjo hitting Mac for a breakaway dunk and then finding Govan for a rim-rattler of his own in the final minute, smartly finding an early shot that would allow the Hoyas one more possession before the half. Georgetown got that ball back, with Akinjo again finding Govan, this time beyond the arc, where the senior big man buried a triple at the buzzer to give Georgetown a 7-point lead.
After the break, Georgetown continued to shake off the slow pace and icy shooting, pushing the pace and attacking the hoop in transition. Playing at their preferred breakneck speed, the Hoyas staved off any attempts at a comeback. Alpha Diallo provided much of his team’s offense, scoring a game-high 22 points to finish as the only Friar in double figures. But that wasn’t enough on a night when Providence managed to shoot just 4 of 22 from three. All those misses didn’t produce many second chances for the Friars, who normally pound the offensive glass but were held to just 13 offensive rebounds (27.7 O Reb%) and 10 second-chance points.
In contrast to the hosts’ anemic play, the Hoyas got after it. LeBlanc was the chief instigator. In in one particularly memorable sequence, he blocked a Friar three-pointer, finished an ensuing fast-break feed from McClung, and then, back on defense, awesomely grabbed a defensive rebound with one hand/arm/paw. When the Friars inched closer, the Hoyas pushed back, with Jamorko Pickett (12 points on 4-of-4 from deep) canning a 3 and Kaleb Johnson (a tidy 9 points off the bench) converting a post up. A minute later, it again was the freshmen’s turn, as Mac stepped into a three-pointer before hitting Johnson for a transition lay-in. That basket pushed the Georgetown lead to 12, a lead that Providence never meaningfully threatened again.
LeBlanc continues to do whatever is needed. He does the dirty work on defense and the glass, often in spectacular fashion. Wednesday night, he flew in from improbable angles to create plays at the rim that his opponents could only watch, or foul. His leading-scorer turn also was the fourth game in five in which he’s reached double figures. Of his various outrageous plays at Providence, none was more exclamatory than the dunk, off a set-up from Mac and a hockey assist from Akinjo, that pushed the Hoyas’ lead back into double figures with just three minutes to play.
Special mention also goes out to Akinjo, who has found ways to affect the game even when his shot isn’t falling. His game-high 8 dimes Wednesday juiced the Hoya offense, particularly in a nifty two-man game with Govan. Those assists also contrast favorably with just a single turnover, which astute observer @yaboynyp points out is something of a trend:
James Akinjo in his last 5 games: 34 assists - 8 turnovers— YaBoyNYP (@yaboynyp) February 7, 2019
You're going to win a lot of games if you get that type of ball control out of your point guard. Fabulous numbers.
He’s also been getting after it on defense and on the floor, turning his edgy energy into an asset, getting into his opponents’ jerseys and sometimes under their skin.
The win over Providence was decisive, a welcome feeling in what has been a house of horrors for the Hoyas for years. It also a split on a two-game road trip, and returns Georgetown to 5-5 in the Big East, good for a tie for third in the conference standings. The Hoyas are in perhaps their toughest stretch of the season, playing four of six on the road. Thanks to tonight, they return home with an extra bounce in their step. Hoya Saxa.