The last time Georgetown had a week to prepare for a Big East opponent, the result wasn’t pretty as the Hoyas looked lost defensively in surrendering a season-high 52 percent shooting to Pittsburgh in a 72-60 loss.
Facing the same break in action between games, tenth-ranked Georgetown responded with a dominating defensive performance in a 63-53 win over Providence on Saturday night in front of 11,563 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Hollis Thompson led the way for Georgetown with 13 points and ten rebounds – his third double-double of the season – and was joined in double figures by Jason Clark (13 points) and Henry Sims (ten points) but it was the other end of the court that proved decisive.
The Hoyas (20-5, 10-4) held the Friars to just 14 percent shooting in a first half that saw Providence go 14 minutes in between made baskets. The Friars (13-15, 2-13) connected on only four first half field goals as Georgetown took a 31-20 lead into halftime.
Given the offensive ineptitude displayed by Providence in those first 20 minutes, the Friars were happy to just hang around in waiting for their chance to get close.
That chance came early in the second half when Providence pulled to within 36-32 after a vicious dunk by Ron Giplaye, who was inserted into the starting lineup for Gerad Coleman, the team’s fourth-leading scorer, who was out with the flu.
Momentum, however, immediately shifted back towards Georgetown behind the steady play of the three upperclassmen on the roster.
Hollis Thompson drilled a three-pointer on the next Hoyas possession and Jason Clark matched his teammate by hitting his third three-pointer on the night.
Thompson capped off the 8-0 run after Henry Sims found the junior forward slashing to the basket for a layup to give the Hoyas a 44-32 lead with 11:11 remaining in the game.
Georgetown kept Providence at arm’s length the rest of the night despite some poor free throw shooting (14-of-23) that kept the score closer than it likely should have been given the offensive struggles by the Friars.
Coach John Thompson III explained during the post game press conference why his team doesn’t get rattled in close games even when they are holding an opponent to such low shooting numbers. His young team doesn’t expect teams to roll over and go away.
“In conference play, particularly on the road, you’re not going to run away from too many people,” Coach Thompson III said.
“That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to try…but this group isn’t frustrated when that doesn’t happen just because guys have accepted the mindset of ‘Hey every night is going to be a grind’. We just want to keep getting stops and keep getting rebounds.”
Henry Sims, who leads the team in assists for the season, had a game-high five assists.
“The good thing about this team is that it’s hard to break our spirits,” Sims said echoing his coach’s sentiments.
“Coach told me to get in the zone and be a good passer.”
Sims wasn’t the only one getting in on the action as Clark, Lubick, and Starks all dished out at least three assists in the win.
With 16 assists on 21 made field goals, Georgetown has now assisted on at least 70 percent of its baskets in four straight games. As tournament time approaches, the Hoyas appear to be getting hot at just the right time.
In a bit of a homecoming game, Nate Lubick (Southborough, MA) set a season-high with nine points to go along with three assists and made his first three-pointer in Big East play this season. Before the game Lubick estimated that his family and friends had purchased an entire section of nearly 100 tickets.
Vincent Council led Providence with 13 points as the lone Friar in double figures.
For the game Georgetown held Providence to 25.9 percent (14-of-54) shooting. It was their second best defensive performance of the season. The first, ironically enough, happened on New Year’s Eve when these two teams first met at the Verizon Center.
The Hoyas have now won seven straight games against the Friars with Providence’s last win in the series coming in 2005. Georgetown kept pace in the race for a double-bye in the Big East tournament by staying in fourth place, a game out of second.
Up Next: Georgetown stays on the road by taking on Seton Hall (17-9, 6-8) on Tuesday at 7pm. The Hoyas beat the Pirates 80-75 in the only meeting last season at the Prudential Center.
Hoyas Notes: With the win Georgetown has won at least 20-games for the 27-time in school history. Coach John Thompson III has reached that mark in six of his eight seasons in charge of the Hoyas.