Providence falls 49-40 to No. 12 Georgetown
WASHINGTON—After trailing by 14 in the first half, Providence seemingly had no business being in the game against taller, stronger No. 12 Georgetown.
Yet there the Friars were, tied with 8 minutes to play, with a chance to break a pair of very long, dubious streaks. They didn't win, eventually falling 49-40 in Saturday's game, but first-year coach Ed Cooley counted it as a significant step in the right direction.
"This was the first time, I think, as the head coach here at Providence we had a complete 40 minutes of effort," Cooley said.
That's quite a leap after Cooley called his players "pathetic today in every way" after a 24-point loss to St. John's on Tuesday. Had the Friars made a few more free throws -- they went 11 for 20 from the line -- or grabbed another clutch rebound or two down the stretch, the might have been celebrating a real win instead of a moral one in the nation's capital.
"I thought we had momentum," Cooley said. "A lot of it played into our hands. It's just when you're limited on depth and you're limited in certain areas, you're going to come up short in some games. It was right there, and what I told my team in the locker room is we've got to learn how to win."
LaDontae Henton had 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Friars (11-4, 0-2), whose 25.5 percent shooting from the field was the school's worst ever in a Big East game. The Friars have lost 17 straight conference road games and 23 straight road games to ranked teams.
Jason Clark had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Hoyas (12-1, 2-0), who won their 10th straight despite shooting 30.5 percent -- their worst in a victory in eight seasons under coach John Thompson III. Freshman Otto Porter grabbed 12 rebounds, including a key putback that made the score 43-40 with 4:04 remaining.
Henry Sims had a line that reflected a Hoyas' mixed bag of numbers: 2 for 13 from the field but 7 for 9 from the free throw line, four turnovers but also four blocks, 11 points and seven rebounds as well as three of Georgetown's seven assists, a stunningly low tally for the ball-movement offense preached by Thompson.
"This was just an ugly game," Thompson said. "We went for a long period when we weren't scoring, so you just have to figure out how to get stops, you have to figure out how to get rebounds."
The score was tied at 35 before Georgetown closed with a 14-5 run. The Hoyas have their longest winning streak since the 2006-07 Final Four team won 11 straight. They are poised to move into the top 10 next week after their 71-68 victory at No. 4 Louisville on Wednesday.
The Friars scored only four points in the first 11 minutes and managed only six field goals while committing eight turnovers in the first half. The score was as close as it was because Georgetown wasn't shooting well, either.
A modest 9-3 run by the Friars cut the Hoyas' lead to 27-19 at halftime. Then Providence became more aggressive in the second half, attacking the basket and tying the game on a pair of free throws by Henton.
Clark's putback put the Hoyas back ahead for good, ending Georgetown's 6 1-2 minute scoring drought.
"It's frustrating," Cooley said. "I'm learning, our children are learning. It's a process. It's not going to happen overnight. It is frustrating. It hurts. I wanted to bring in the new year and try to win on the road."
Providence's Kadeem Batts, a sophomore, made his first start since returning from an academic suspension, giving the Friars one starter taller than 6-foot-6. He had four points and six rebounds before fouling out with 1:04 to play.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP