Bad Beats Worse: Georgetown 49, Providence 40

Georgetown endured its worst shooting day of the season Saturday. Fortunately, So did its opponent, Providence. More fortunately, the Friars’ worst (24.5 percent from the field) was worse than the Hoyas’ (30 percent), and Georgetown escaped from a brutal brick-fest with a 49-40 victory. The win, while decidedly unimpressive, was the Hoyas’ tenth straight and pushes their record to 12-1, and 2-0 in Big East play.

Jason Clark led the Georgetown charge, such as it was, scoring 16 points, grabbing 9 rebounds, nabbing 2 steals, and dropping 2 assists. Otto Porter cleaned the glass, besting Wednesday’s career-high 14 rebounds by one, also chipping in six points. Henry Sims was terrible from the field, making just 2 of 13 shots, but converted from the line, where he made 7 of 9, finishing with 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks. No other Hoya exceeded five points.

The arc of the game resembled the equally ho-hum win over Howard three weeks ago. As against the Bison, Georgetown started out well on defense, holding the Friars to just four points over the opening eleven-plus minutes. Providence was brutal on offense throughout the game, and in the first half in particular, going eight straight minutes without a point. Some of the Friars’ struggles can be credited to the Hoyas, whose 2-3 zone left Providence looking disorganized and listless. But Providence also contributed to its drought, hitting no shots except those aimed at its own feet. On offense, the Hoyas were moderately effective, racking up a whole 17 points while the Friars languished at 4. Each of the Hoyas chipped in offensively, with Nate Lubick, who made a pair of buckets and assisted on a third, impressing in particular.

Then it was Georgetown’s turn at ineptitude. Rather than trying to pressure the sure-handed Hoyas into turnovers, the Friars simply sagged off, clogging the lane against easy looks, and daring Georgetown to make an open jumper. While the Hoyas were all too willing to take open threes, the shots just weren’t falling. Jumpers were bricked, rattled, and missed in just about every way possible. While some Hoya looks were poorly chosen, the result of lazy offensive sets, others were wide open and simply errant.

Gradually, the Friars crept back into the game, tightening the deficit to eight by halftime. Somehow, the second half was worse than the first, as Georgetown made just three of its first eighteen looks after the half. The Friars were moderately better, eventually tying the score at 35 with 8 minutes remaining. A brief flurry moved the dial a bit, as Georgetown converted on three straight possessions and Providence answered with five straight points of its own, making the score 41-40 with 4:41 to play. An Otto Porter put-back made the margin three, but then, fittingly, the teams went scoreless for three minutes, with a Sims free throw and a Markel Starks runner pushing the lead to an insurmountable six with under a minute to play.

What and how much to take from this game is in the eye of the beholder. Pessimists will say that Providence has unlocked the Georgetown offense, exploiting suspect Hoya three-point shooting by denying looks in the lane. That interpretation would ignore the fact that Clark, Starks, and Hollis Thompson have all been lethal from deep at various points this season, and that the Hoyas shot just 16 percent from three on Saturday, well below their 38 percent average coming into the game. Optimists will argue, as Doris Burke claimed in the waning minutes, that Georgetown just comes up with big plays down the stretch. That’s also a bit shaky: aside from Thompson’s three at Alabama, it’s hard to think of too many such big plays this year, and they’ve shown a worrying tendency, at least in the Louisville and Alabama games, to lose sizable, late leads.

For now, let’s just settled on the easy answer: Georgetown survived an ugly afternoon, getting a conference win, which is always a good thing. The Hoyas return to action Wednesday, in a huge game against Marquette at the Verizon Center. Until then, Happy New Year, and Hoya Saxa.

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