Your Georgetown Hoyas returned to Capital One Center to play an experienced and physical Providence Friars team. The Hoyas turned in one of their most impressive efforts of the season - for a half. In a difficult year, we have an additional contender for most dispiriting loss of the season as Providence outscored the Hoyas 44-22 in the second half of today’s game and ultimately beat the Hoyas, 71-52.
Both teams struggled offensively to start the game. Providence scored first via a Noah Horchler 3-pointer. The Hoyas seem unprepared for Providence’s press early on but were able to get on the board via a Carey steal and an Aminu Mohammed slam. The Hoyas were locked in defensively and took the lead via a Collin Holloway 3 and led 7-5 at the first TV timeout.
The teams turned to their benches. The son of Dikembe Mutombo, as the FS1 announcers called him, made an impact with a layup off of a nice feed from Mohammed. Providence responded with a Justin Minaya 3 and Horchler layup off of a botched Carey pass to Mutombo. The Hoyas called timeout after Providence edged ahead 12-9 at the 12-minute mark.
Tyler Beard entered the game and immediately found Kaiden Rice for an open-3. Mohammed continued his strong early play with a steal and and-1 and then found Holloway for a layup. Another Holloway layup off a post-up extended the Hoyas’ lead to 5 with 8 minutes left, but Providence fought back via back-to-back 3 pointers from Justin Minaya, the latter of which he hit over blanket coverage from Holloway with the shot clock expiring.
The Hoyas continued to battle and forced Providence into a 5-second violation. Mohammed then orchestrated the team’s play of the game by inbounding off of a dozing Friar player and then skying for a dunk (he would almost repeat the feat later in the game). Additional highlights included a long Mutombo jumper and Carey free throws after drawing a foul off of a 3-point shot in only the way that he can.
Your Georgetown Hoyas led 30-27 after a fantastic first half. Mohammed led the way with 9 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals and Holloway contributed 9 points and 2 rebounds. Equally important, the Hoyas played their most aggressive defense of the season, forcing 10 Friar turnovers and holding Providence star Nate Watson to 4 points on 1-3 shooting (with no rebounds). Alas, there was a second half to play.
The Friars predictably attacked the paint to start the second half. Watson drew two quick fouls on Ighoefe and then scored on Mutombo with a post-up. The Hoyas responded with a Carey 4-point play before Friars Guard Jared Bynum hit a 3 of his own. Hoyas’ fans looked forward to a nailbiter as the Hoyas trailed only by a point with 5 minutes into the 2nd half.
The Hoyas then hit the wall. The aggressive defensive and ball movement that the Hoyas featured in the first half vanished as the Hoyas failed to score over a 4-minute stretch. Back-to-back turnovers from Holloway and Mutombo and some poor transition defense allowed Providence to pour it on. After back-to-back Bynum 3s, Providence led 56-41 and had effectively secured the victory.
The Hoyas showed little fight for the remainder of the contest. Coach Ewing trotted out odd lineup after odd lineup while Providence continued to snipe from the outside. Ewing even finally and mercifully sat Dante Harris for a few minutes. The reigning Big East Tournament MVP is clearly nowhere near healthy and had a historically poor game offensively (0 field goals and 1 assist in 33 minutes) while failing to deter Jared Bynum (7 3-pointers). One of the few bright spots was the determined play of Aminu Mohammed, who led the Hoyas with 18 points and 3 steals.
Game details aside, Hoyas fans are familiar with the script by now: Stellar efforts in first halves followed by collapses and Coach turning to increasingly desperate lineup combinations. The one constant seems to be Coach Ewing’s commitment to a hobbled Harris, as freshman Beard failed to see the floor in the second half again this afternoon. However, focusing on individual players is rather beside the point as the coaching staff seems bereft of ideas to turn the season around.
The Hoyas return to action on Wednesday against DePaul in Chicago in what should be a competitive game. Until then. Hoya Saxa.