WASHINGTON • No 12 Georgetown blew a 14-point lead against a school that hasn’t won a Big East road game in nearly two years. The Hoyas couldn’t make a jump shot, couldn’t make a layup. All the momentum lay with Providence down the stretch.
Henry Sims was as frustrated as anyone. He was 1 for 11 from the field when he grabbed an offensive rebound, put the ball up and finally watched one fall through the net.
The play capped a 6-0 run, a timely response after the Friars had tied the game. The Hoyas held on for a 49-40 victory Saturday, winning their 10th straight despite shooting a season-low 30.5 percent from the field. It’s the worst Georgetown has shot in a win in eight seasons under coach John Thompson III.
“When that putback went in — big sigh of relief,” Sims said. “Games like this, I’ve got to do little things. Find my teammates when my shots are not falling, be helpful on the defensive end.”
Sims’ line 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 coach John Thompson III.
“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.”
Jason Clark had 16 points and eight rebounds for the taller, stronger Hoyas (12-1, 2-0), who had a 15-0 run early in the game and then held on despite their offensive struggles. Freshman Otto Porter grabbed 12 rebounds, including a key putback of his own that made the score 43-40 with 4:04 remaining.
“Otto made the plays that you have to make to win games,” Thompson said. “And it was glaring today.”
The score was tied at 35 with 8 minutes to play 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.
LaDontae Henton had 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead Providence (11-4, 0-2), which shot 25.5 percent from the field, the worst the school has ever shot in a Big East game. The Friars have lost 17 straight conference road games and 23 straight road games to ranked teams.
Providence first-year coach Ed Cooley said his players were “pathetic today in every way” after a 24-point loss to St. John’s on Tuesday. He was pleased to see a more competitive effort against the Hoyas.
“This was the first time, I think, as the head coach here at Providence we had a complete 40 minutes of effort,” Cooley said.
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. Sims then made two free throws and followed with the putback that produced his “big sigh of relief.”
“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.”
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.