Hoyas give away late lead, fall to Friars at home

The Georgetown Hoyas (15-7, 7-4 Big East) have lost more than a few games this season, but none like this. Taking on the Providence Friars (17-6, 7-3 Big East), the Hoyas failed to even the season series, taking a 71-74 loss at home.

The Hoyas controlled the game for most of the night—Providence’s largest lead was their margin of victory. Georgetown, on the other hand, led by 13 with less than 12 minutes to play. But it was not to be.

It was not a particularly bad shooting night for the Hoyas, who posted a slightly below average 40 percent from the field. But the Blue and Gray’s 15 turnovers and critical misses at the free throw line made maintaining a lead difficult down the stretch.

The Hoyas did not make a shot from the field for the last 7:34 of the game, something that is starting to become a recurring theme for this year’s squad. The Blue and Gray ran into similar stretches last week against Xavier and during their home win against Butler.

“You have to give them credit they played good defense. We didn’t take care of the ball. We can’t go through stretches where we aren’t getting shots,” said Head Coach John Thompson III. “They did a good job of playing the passing lanes, we didn’t hold onto the ball a lot of times, but you have to give their defense credit.”

When the Hoyas ceded their lead, they came down the floor with 32 seconds to play trailing 71-72. The Blue and Gray struggled to find a decent look at the rim and threw an errant pass that found its way out of bounds. The referees gave possession back to Georgetown with 11 seconds remaining.

On the inbounds pass, the Hoyas turned the ball over and were forced to foul. After the Friars made both free throws, extending their lead to three, junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was forced to shoot a deep jumper, which rimmed out.

“It was supposed to get it in. Isaac popped out, they denied him and everybody stood and watched instead of moving to get open,” Thompson said of the inbounding turnover. “We wanted to get it in and have a quick reversal and we had Jabril and D’Vauntes on the weak side, but Isaac popped out and Bentil denied him a little bit and he kind of stood there instead of working to get open and everyone else just stood and watched.”

Smith-Rivera led the Hoyas on the night with 21 points in 33 minutes, including five three pointers. Freshman forward Isaac Copeland and freshman guard Tre Campbell each added 10 points, following up their strong performances from recent games.

Senior center Josh Smith also had 10 points along with 6 rebounds, but fouled out late in the game, taking away a key scoring option with the contest on the line.

“Smith-Rivera, a great player, he got off early with threes, (Tre) Campbell, who I think is going to be a great player, (Isaac) Copeland. I thought their freshmen really played well in the first half. Then it was kind of back-and-forth, back-and-forth. We had to kind of change up a little bit from our zone to man because they were carving it up,” said Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley.

“It was just really a good team win for us. We are on a three-game road trip and to come in here and get a win was really special for us. I love this Georgetown team. They got some resilience, those young kids are good and Smith-Rivera is one of the best players in the country,” he said.

Despite the strong performances from Smith-Rivera, Copeland, and Campbell, other members of the rotation struggled to make significant contributions.

Senior forwards Aaron Bowen and Mikael Hopkins combined for four points on three shot attempts. Freshman forward Paul White, who has been struggling of late, only managed two points on two shots from the field.

The Hoyas managed to stay in the game late by earning repeated trips to the free throw line, but were clearly out of rhythm while trying to generate offense late in the game.

“We’re just stagnant on offense. Like I said we’re just probing too much instead of moving on to the next thing and that was the big thing for us today,” said Smith-Rivera.

This was the Hoyas’ second loss to Providence this season, the first coming in early January in a tough 57-60 overtime contest. The Blue and Gray now sit behind Villanova (7-2), Butler (7-3), and the Friars in the Big East with away games against the former two still to come.

The Hoyas will need to have a short memory, as they will head to the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday to face No. 7 Villanova. Tip is set for 2 p.m.

Photo: Georgetown University

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