Your Georgetown Hoyas (8-12, 1-8 Big East) force the Providence Friars (14-7, 5-4) to hold off a late comeback, 84-76. With Ed Cooley’s return, the energy in Amica Mutual Pavilion was as high as it’s ever been. It was a tense and thrilling basketball game, as Cooley faced his former team in his hometown, and the Friars fans unleashed their fury on the visiting coach. The Hoyas struggled to find their rhythm in the first half, as their star player Jayden Epps missed all five of his three-point attempts. But they rallied in the second half, taking a 69-66 lead with less than 3 minutes left. While there are no moral victories, Cooley and Georgetown put a scare in Providence fans that they will not soon forget.
Ed Cooley proud of his role helping build program— Kevin McNamara (@KevinMcNamara33) January 27, 2024
‘I should ask Providence College for a bonus check for the energy in here.’ pic.twitter.com/g197YBl9su
The Friars felt the pressure of the Hoyas almost all game, who dominated the offensive boards 13-4 and had 13 more shots than their opponents (27-62 versus 28-49). They also scored 17 points from second chances, compared to the Friars’ 6 points.
However, the Hoyas could not overcome their foul trouble, which plagued them from the start. Supreme Cook fouled out, and Dontrez Styles and Jay Heath had to play cautiously. The Friars capitalized on their free throws, and secured the victory. Epps finished with 26 points, making 3 of his 8 three-pointers in the second half.
The pregame hype was tremendous, with Providence fans literally tripping over each other to get into the arena. Ed Cooley was met with “boos” and jeers at various moments throughout the game. Georgetown would not just go away and accept a loss.
Providence kids are TRAMPLING each other to get into the AMP — The Field of 68 (@TheFieldOf68) January 27, 2024
This game is going to be CRAZY.
The Hoyas silenced the crowd on a couple occasions and took a 3-point lead with 3 minutes remaining. But Devin Carter—who Cooley recruited to PC—put the Friars on his back and carried them to victory. Ultimately, it was Ed Cooley who set up a big time show, complete with extracurricular hype and a down-to-the-wire basketball contest. Perhaps he does deserve a bonus from the fans of Providence College.
WATCH: Chorus of boos greets Ed Cooley as he walks over to the Providence student section. pic.twitter.com/XRoBubJx5X— Casual Hoya (@CasualHoya) January 27, 2024
Here are the links:
If anything, I should ask Providence College for a bonus check based on the energy that was in here, and that’s no lie,” Cooley quipped.
No, that check won’t be in the mail from Providence athletic director Steve Napolillo. But in many ways, Saturday represented a full-circle moment in the Friars-Hoyas saga – and a new rivalry. It showed what Cooley built at Providence and what he departed from in shocking and gutting fashion. It displayed what rising star Kim English can be as his team executed to a tee in the final moments while also shedding a glimmer of light on what’s possible for Georgetown in future years.
And appropriately, it was a Cooley recruit in Devin Carter who put the game away. Just when it looked like Georgetown could pull off the unthinkable, leading 69-66 with 2:57 on the clock, the junior guard took matters into his own hands to lead an 11-0 run.
Walking out of the arena. Final thoughts from Providence/Georgetown and what we saw this afternoon: pic.twitter.com/WXbcK1jcDd— John Fanta (@John_Fanta) January 27, 2024
“That’s why there’s so much anger, vileness, quote-unquote betrayal in me coming to Georgetown,” Cooley told The Washington Post in December. “I was raised by that [Providence] community. But it was time for a life change that people just didn’t know. Nor did I want to expose. Like, enough. I’d had enough. I’ve done it. I’ve lived here my whole life. I needed something different for my own soul.”
Ed Cooley, made by Providence, is now dedicated to resurrecting Georgetown
Providence controlled much of the second half Saturday before the Hoyas grabbed a one-point lead on a Jayden Epps three-pointer with just under three minutes to play. But the Friars recaptured their advantage shortly after.
Providence guard Devin Carter stole the ball in the waning seconds and took it the other way for a windmill dunk that punctuated the win. Afterward, fans launched cups, beer and towels into the air, and Cooley shared a brief moment with some of his former players in the handshake line.
Highlights: Providence 84, Georgetown 76 pic.twitter.com/zCPq5InKSk— Providence MBB (@PCFriarsmbb) January 27, 2024
The Friars repeatedly feasted on easy looks in the paint to build a 56-44 cushion with 12:35 left in the second half.
But Providence suddenly sputtered, making one field goal and committing six turnovers over the next six minutes as its once-comfortable lead vanished.
Massoud and Jay Heath each drilled a 3-pointer amid the Hoyas’ 14-2 run that Rowan Brumbaugh capped with a layup to tie the game at 58 with 6:53 to play.
Georgetown slid ahead 69-66 on Epps’ triple and led by one before Carter responded with seven points in 12 seconds to swing the Friars in front for good.
“If it wasn’t for Ed Cooley, I wouldn’t be here (at Providence). I’m thankful for him, but I had to let him know: Providence is still a hard place to play.”— John Fanta (@John_Fanta) January 27, 2024
Devin Carter joined me postgame after his 29-point performance to lead the Friars past Georgetown: pic.twitter.com/d8bASs8NIb
There was no miracle for Cooley in his first game back, but his Georgetown team had the signature fight of most of his previous Providence ones. The Hoyas are not an NCAA Tournament squad, not even close; Providence is still building out its case under first-year coach Kim English. None of that mattered Saturday. The hottest environment and the best panorama in sports played out in Providence, Rhode Island.
Bad feelings? For most Friars fans, yes. Seething anger. Judging by the looks of the fervent faces that decorated Amica Mutual Pavilion, many will need years and probably multiple bouts of therapy to really work through it. But for Cooley? He could not have handled the day any better.
“I love Providence,” he said. “There’s no question about it. ... I’m very grateful. I’ll always be proud to be the former coach of Providence College. And I’m very proud to be someone who lived and grew up here.
Providence’s dean of students Steve Sears sent a campus-wide e-mail the day before the game, not to warn the kids to be on their best behavior, but to hype them up even further. ‘To our competitors, take heed,’ the letter read. ‘Hoyas, you have been measured, you have been weighed, and you will be found wanting… This is Friar Nation, and we have one heart, one heartbeat, and we are one community.’ The letter finished, ‘When that “ball drops” at 12:30pm tomorrow, proudly let the world know who we Friars are now more than ever.’
Students lined up outside the ‘AMP’ beginning at 7:00am for a noon tip off. A rowdy, alcohol-fueled student section found more beers inside and built up the atmosphere well before the game began. Videos of kids trampling over each other to get inside made their way to social media.
When the hour finally arrived, Cooley made his way to the floor in a chorus of booing. Voices that once chanted his name with a feeling of pride cursed at him. Shouts of ‘Judas’ and ‘traitor’ were tame. Crude references to his rumored infidelity were made as shouts of ‘cheater’ and ‘Where’s your mistress’ descended upon the floor in Rhode Island.
Memo to other Big East schools: Georgetown is going to hang a Quad 4 loss on someone. Not sure who, not sure when. They might finish 2-18, but someone is going down.— HoyaSaxa.com (@hoyatalk) January 27, 2024
Cooley was cursed and mocked from his first arrival on the court. But it wasn’t until Carter’s game-clinching scoring spurt that the Friars (14-6, 5-4 Big East) were able to finish the job.
“Let’s just talk about the elephant in the room,” Cooley, a Providence native who coached the Friars for 12 seasons before angering his hometown by defecting to Georgetown told reporters afterward. “I couldn’t be more grateful, and thankful, to walk into this building and see how fresh and how thirsty and how great this place is. There’s no better college basketball atmosphere than right here.”
Georgetown (8-12, 1-8) led 69-66 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Ismael Massoud and Jaden Epps before Josh Oduro scored for Providence to make it a 1-point game. Carter hit a 3-pointer to give the Friars the lead, then stole the ball from Jay Heath and went in for the layup.
“There was a bit of extracurriculars around the game leading up to it,” English said. “But the focus for our group was on the court, because that’s always the most important thing.”
Tickets for this one were selling well above face value on the secondary market. It was a buzzing full house when Cooley made his walk out of an unfamiliar tunnel behind the bench a few feet down from the one he used to roam. His appearance was like a match to a powder keg — a thunderous round of boos followed, a sound matched moments later when the starting lineups for each team were introduced.
Cooley left Providence last year to take over in Georgetown when basketball Hall of Famer and former Hoya Patrick Ewing was fired. Providence fans didn’t take that too well and they reminded Cooley of it on Saturday.
A throng of cameras awaited Cooley’s pregame arrival on the court. While the Friars were greeted with applause, their ex-coach was lustily booed and serenaded with vulgar chants up through the first few bars of the national anthem.
But the coach took the high road, finding friends in the crowd and making the rounds to shake hands and hug those who were offering encouragement. A Providence police officer trailed a few steps behind.