Georgetown students were still off on break, and the men’s basketball team looked eager to join them for much of Thursday night’s Big East opener against Providence.

The Hoyas committed 15 turnovers in a shaky first half before rousing themselves to a fierce second-half showing to take down the Providence Friars 72-62.

“It was obviously a tale of two halves tonight,” Providence Head Coach Tim Welsh said.

The Hoyas’ (10-2, 1-0) seeming inability to hold on to the ball caused Georgetown to fade away for much of the first half before rallying early in the second half to secure the win over the Friars (7-5, 0-1) before a crowd of 6,985 at MCI Center.

Despite coming off a five-game win streak and a week off to practice, Georgetown struggled out of the gate and failed to show much spark throughout the first half. Providence’s quick guards, in combination with sophomore center Randall Hanke in the paint, took advantage of Georgetown’s continuing turnovers. While the game remained close for the first 10 minutes, the Hoyas lost control of the ball six times in a four-minute span. The Friars took advantage of their hosts’ limp play to pull ahead to a 23-14 lead.

“In the first half the ball kept hitting us in our hands and the guys kept dropping it,” John Thompson III, Georgetown’s head coach said. “They were not the type where you were being pressured, it was just dropping it,” he said.

Georgetown countered with its own run, using two three-pointers to move within one point of the visiting squad. Turnovers once again foiled the Hoyas, as the team committed four more before the end of the half to leave the court down by six, 30-24.

Georgetown’s 15 first-half turnovers accounted for 21 of Providence’s points, including 13 points off fast breaks. The Hoyas were only able to capitalize twice on the Friars’ 10 turnovers. Georgetown got a reprieve as its opponent struggled from outside, making only one of seven three-point attempts.

Halftime gave Georgetown the opportunity to wake up, and Thompson took the chance to sound the alarm for his players. The Hoyas took the lesson to heart, breaking loose at the start of the second half and later refused to look back.

“In the first half, nothing was quite right. That’s a tribute to [Providence]. They came out with a game plan, they were aggressive,” Thompson said. “We need energy when things aren’t going right. It’s easy when things are going well.”

Sophomore guard Jonathan Wallace sparked the Hoyas’ rally with a three-pointer to close the gap to three points in the first minute of the half. Senior guard Ashanti Cook showed his leadership skills on the court, providing the next nine points for Georgetown as the team posted a 12-point run to take the lead, 36-30.

“They say seniors step up in big situations, and that’s pretty much what we did,” said Cook.

Providence made its way back into the game with nine minutes remaining, cutting Georgetown’s lead to four points off a three-pointer from senior guard Donnie McGrath. The Hoyas worked themselves out of trouble from the foul line, including an intentional foul from McGrath. Georgetown sank five free throws within two minutes to reopen its lead. Free throws would continue to aid the home team in the final stretch, as it racked up 19 points from the line in the second half to keep comfortably ahead.

Providence struggled to work the ball inside throughout the second half, and critically failed to win the battle of the boards. The Hoyas outrebounded their opponents 41-26, including 16 offensive rebounds. With only seven turnovers in the second half, Georgetown also provided Providence’s quick transition game fewer chances for breakaways.

“They were the aggressor in the second half, we were in the first half,” Welsh said. “But their aggressiveness really outdid us in the second half.”

Senior forward Brandon Bowman posted a game-high 19 points and 12 rebounds while sophomore center Roy Hibbert joined him with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double. Although the 7-foot-2 center fouled out with 90 seconds remaining, he sealed his performance earlier with a monster dunk that brought the crowd to its feet. Wallace and Cook both contributed 15 points.

Sophomore forward Jeff Green scored an unusually low tally of two points, but pulled down six big rebounds for the Hoyas.

“It’s easy when you’re not putting the ball in the basket to all of sudden become complacent. During a key stretch in the second half, he got rebounds when we needed rebounds,” Thompson said.

Providence capped off a disappointing final stretch for Georgetown last March with an upset in the season closer. This season, however, the Hoyas got their revenge early.

“It’s Big East play,” Bowman said. “You don’t want to start off Big East 0-1.”

After a dominating second half, that was hardly a problem.

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