February 11, 2014 - Basketball being a team game, by definition it demands input by more than one player; one participant, however dynamic can't succeed against five working in concert. That was proven last night during Georgetown's 83-71 win over Providence before greater than 8,000 fans at DC's Verizon Center.
Four players scored in double figures for the Hoyas, now 15-9, 6-6 in the BIG EAST and winners of four straight. Sophomore guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the team with 22 points, also snagging five rebounds and dishing five assists (a game high). Senior point guard Markel Starks logged 14 points, three rebounds and four helpers, while freshman forward Reggie Cameron scored 11 points and junior swingman Jabril Trawick finished with 12.
It was certainly a group thing that saw the Hoyas turn a seven point deficit to ten point advantage over a nine and a half minute second half span - repeatedly the Hoyas shot, rebounded and hit free throws, with multiple players contributing.
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Head coach John Thompson III admitted his team performed well to close the game, as did his Providence counterpart Ed Cooley agreed, saying "You have to give them credit. The ball went into the basket, ours didn't. They had great execution".
Cooley went on to lament his team's "attention to detail", but it's indisputable the Hoyas made plays when necessary. Case in point were the two offensive rebounds garnered during this stretch (Starks, and junior forward Mikael Hopkins), leading to five points. Or the fact four Hoyas scored then, Smith-Rivera, Nate Lubick, Starks and Trawick, the last's timely three pointer assisted by Starks and driving G'Town's lead to seven with 3:09 to go. Add the seven of nine from the charity stripe as proof - Hopkins, Smith-Rivera, Trawick and Cameron all converted from the free throw line.
Forward Hopkins, a junior, would also snag 11 rebounds, while frontcourt mate Lubick, a senior notched six. Both scored near double figures with eight points apiece.
Guys are stepping up" said Thompson of not only his team's 20-4 bench scoring advantage, but it's overall group input. "I think there's an understanding just about everyone is going to get a shot. And you're going to have to step up and play".
Cooley counts on Providence's star guard, senior Bryce Cotton, and he delivered, to the tune of 31 points and four helpers. Nineteen of his points were dropped in the first half, yet he went scoreless for second half stretches of approximately three and a half minutes (twice), one and a half minutes and over seven minutes - the last representing much of G'Town's 26-9, game sealing run.
"What we did was we just made a conscious effort that five guys on the court have to guard him" said Thompson, who also honestly mused "I don't know if we did anything" specifically to slow down the BIG EAST's second leading scorer.
As a team, Provy (16-9, 6-6) shot 37.5% from the field, sinking a third (7-21) of their three balls. G'Town mustered only 31.8% from beyond the arc, but 47.3% overall.
The Friars also got double figure scoring from senior Kadeem Batts (14 points, seven rebounds) and sophomore swingman Tyler Harris's 13 points. Sophomore guard Josh Fortune paced Provy with eight boards.
Cooley, whose team welcomes DePaul, Saturday at 2p, is dealing with losing four of five games, three straight. According to him "We have a common theme, the last three games that we played we're making some mistakes that's costly during the game...Hopefully we can clean that up you know".
Of the win, which brings the Hoyas to .500 in the league and tied with Providence for fifth in the conference, Smith-Rivera noted "It's good for the time being. We're not content with it. We're looking forward to the next game", a 7p tilt this Sunday at St. John's, which he confused with G'Town's next home game, a February 22nd home game with Xavier (they also travel to Seton Hall, Feb. 20th).
"See that's that focus. That's the focus" said Thompson, eliciting laughter from the press corps after Smith-Rivera's mistake. "See you guys think I'm just talking when I say we put all our energy into the next game. That's the truth, we put all our energy into the next game. See he doesn't even know who we play next".
Is this win validation of coming back from a six of seven, conference game losing streak?
"We're still in a hole. The next game is the next important thing" said Thompson, eschewing any big picture analysis. "We literally have to put all of our energy into the next game. If you win enough next games, play enough good halves, then all of the sudden that question answers itself".