CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA Junior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led all scorers with 21 points in Georgetown's loss to Providence on Wednesday night. Smith Rivera was 6-of-14 of the field and 5-of-10 from the three-point line.
CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA
Junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led all scorers with 21 points in Georgetown’s loss to Providence on Wednesday night. Smith Rivera was 6-of-14 of the field and 5-of-10 from the three-point line.

With 11.8 seconds left on the clock and the Hoyas trailing Providence by one point, freshman forward L.J. Peak looked to inbound the ball to fellow freshman forward Isaac Copeland. The Hoyas had just broken from a timeout and Head Coach John Thompson III was still clutching a whiteboard on the sidelines.

Whatever play they had discussed did not have a chance to come to fruition. Instead, the ball left Peak’s hands and landed in the arms of Friars’ freshman forward Ben Bentil. Copeland fouled him immediately and Bentil made both shots at the line for the Friars, extending his team’s lead to 74-71. In the final two seconds, junior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s game-tying attempt rimmed out and a stunned crowd at Verizon Center deflated all in one breath.

Looking to avenge their loss earlier in the season, the No. 24 Hoyas (15-7, 7-4 Big East) squandered a 13-point lead to Providence (17-6, 7-3 Big East), largely due to the team failing to record a single field goal in the final 7:41 of the game.

“We can’t go through stretches where we aren’t getting shots,” Thompson said. “[The Friars] did a good job of playing the passing lanes — we didn’t hold onto the ball a lot of times — but you have to give their defense credit.”

As for the busted inbounding play, Thompson said it just simply didn’t go according to plan.

“It was supposed to get in,” Thompson said. “Isaac popped out, they denied him and everybody stood and watched instead of moving to get open.”

It’s easy to point the finger at one bad play call at the end of the game, but the Hoyas’ problems ran deeper than a blown final play. Georgetown’s defense allowed Providence to shoot 53.5 percent from the field, including a 57.9 field goal percentage in the second half.

“We weren’t covering the guys that were most effective [or the players who] we paid the most attention to before the game, so it was just during crucial times that we broke down,” Smith-Rivera said.

Georgetown’s offense, too, suffered, especially in the second half.

“We’re just stagnant on offense. We’re just probing too much instead of moving on to the next thing and that was the big thing for us today,” Smith-Rivera said.

As poorly as the Hoyas’ night ended, it began in fine form. In a balanced first half, they shot a respectable 44 percent from the field and went 6-of-12 from the three-point line. The Hoyas entered the break leading 41-38 after Smith-Rivera, who finished with 21 points, shot a three-pointer in the waning seconds of the first half. Then, in the second half, Georgetown built on its lead, going ahead of Providence by as much as 13 points with 12 minutes left to play.

Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley praised Georgetown’s effort and highlighted the individual efforts of some players on the team.

“Smith-Rivera, great player — he got off early with threes. The kid Campbell [too], who I think is going to be a great player,” Cooley said. “I thought their freshmen really played well in the first half. Then it kind of was back and forth, back and forth — we had to change from [a zone defense] to man-to-man because they were carving it up.”

Faced with Georgetown’s double-digit lead in the second half, Providence responded with a timely three-pointer from senior forward LaDontae Henton and a couple layups from senior forward Carson Desrosiers to cut its deficit to four points with eight minutes left to play.

As the Hoyas watched their advantage slip away, Smith-Rivera drained a much-needed three a few moments later with 7:41 left to play — the bucket turned out to be the last field goal of the night for Georgetown. Even with the wildly talented sophomore guard Kris Dunn on the bench with four fouls, the Friars managed to cut away at the Hoyas’ lead and hold them to free throw opportunities, a third of which they missed, ultimately costing them 6 points in the second half.

Then, with four-and-a-half minutes left, the Friars took their first lead of the second half.

“I was proud of our group, especially when Kris came out and we had three freshmen in. When a talent like Kris Dunn comes off the floor, you know you’re just hoping your young kids have been through enough games to weather the storm against a great team,” Cooley said. “Their energy was good and LaDontae was able to get loose for a couple baskets and the game kind of got haywire. … Big East basketball.”

The “haywire” moment Cooley was alluding to was likely the technical foul assessed to Desrosiers with 1:51 left to play, which followed a foul called on Providence freshman guard Kyron Cartwright. Both fouls allowed senior guard Jabril Trawick and Smith-Rivera to shoot two free throws each while the Hoyas retained possession, giving them a potential five- or six-point play opportunity.

“My number one … was that we also had a possession like that where Carson Desrosiers went to the basket and same thing, hard foul or whatever, and nothing was ever reviewed. If you’re going to do it on that end, then you have to do it on the other end,” Cooley said.

The officiating in the game frustrated both teams, as Smith fouled out on a blocking foul with 32 seconds left, though at least one of the referees initially called a charge.

“From my vantage point, I think one ref called a block and two called a charge. That’s what I saw. I haven’t seen the replay and then they huddled up and called the block,” Thompson said.

The lead in the game changed hands four times in the final 1:51, but when the whistle blew, only one team came out on top.

For Georgetown, the result brought disappointment; for Providence, relief.

“I’m so happy we don’t have to play Georgetown anymore,” Cooley said.

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