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Hoyas Lose Fifth In Row; NCAA Chances Fade

Friars' Gomes Sinks Decisive Shot: Providence 68, Georgetown 65

By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 6, 2005; Page E05

The play that will be remembered as the one that Providence used to beat Georgetown -- and damage the Hoyas' fading hopes for an NCAA tournament bid -- was Ryan Gomes's off-balance leaner from 10 feet with 1.8 seconds left. Gomes hit the shot, was fouled, and sank the ensuing free throw to give the Friars a 68-65 win in front of 11,863 at MCI Center.

But what really hurt Georgetown was a bunch of other shots, namely the misses that the Friars rebounded and the Hoyas didn't. Providence held a staggering 38-18 edge on the boards, including a 21-7 advantage on the offensive end.

Ryan Gomes is pumped after hitting a three-point shot in the second half. His 10-footer with 1.8 seconds left was the game-winner at MCI Center. (Nick Wass -- AP)

Rebounding "was the difference in the game," Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said. "They got 21 offensive rebounds. We defensively stopped what they were doing, but they would throw it up and get the rebound."

Thompson said that the loss was one of the toughest of his career, and junior forward Brandon Bowman said that it was "most definitely" the toughest of the season. The Hoyas had played themselves into position to earn an at-large tournament berth by winning 16 of their first 22 games, but they played themselves out with five straight losses to close the regular season.

Georgetown (16-11, 8-8) will be the seventh seed in the Big East tournament, which begins Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. The Hoyas will face 10th-seeded Seton Hall at 7 p.m., and should they win, they would play second-seeded Connecticut on Thursday at 7 p.m.

"We're a team that came a long way, had our ups and downs, and if people could find it in their hearts to give us a postseason invitation, we would take it," Bowman said.

"The season's not over," said Thompson, when asked if the Hoyas deserved to play in the postseason. "On top of everything else, that's what I told this group in there. At the end of season, we'll talk about it. We play in a great conference, and we've done some good things. Obviously we have not won down stretch, but when it's over, ask me what I think."

Providence entered the game with a 3-12 conference mark, but that was somewhat deceptive; 10 of those losses came by a combined 46 points. The Friars (14-16, 4-12) had struggled to close out games, but they made the plays they needed last night, whether it was a steal that wiped out a turnover of their own, or a tap-in of a missed shot.

Georgetown tied the score at 65 on a drive and left-handed flip from freshman Jeff Green with 30 seconds left on the clock. But the Friars went to Gomes on the final possession, and he went to the basket hard against Bowman. He twisted in the lane and got off the shot.

"For the most part I thought I played good defense," said Bowman, who led the Hoyas with 19 points and five rebounds. "It was a very tough shot. He faked over the screen, spun back, and I was there, and someone else was there because he was fouled. He hit it, and it happened so fast. I was devastated after he hit the shot."

Gomes, a candidate for conference player of the year, finished with 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting. But it was Randall Hanke, a lanky 6-foot-10 freshman reserve, who best exemplified the Friars' dominance over Georgetown; he had a game-high 12 rebounds to go along with his 18 points. Hanke scored 12 of those points off of put-backs, often just reaching up with his long arm to tap in an errant shot.

Providence ranked 10th in the conference in rebounding margin, but it scored 25 points off 21 offensive rebounds last night. Georgetown's total of 18 rebounds was by far its lowest total of the season, and that helped negate the fact that the Hoyas shot 55.3 percent and committed only eight turnovers.

It certainly didn't help matters that Green, the Hoyas' leading rebounder, and 7-foot-2 freshman Roy Hibbert were in foul trouble for much of the game. Green had 15 points (on 6-of-7 shooting) and only two rebounds in 23 minutes; Hibbert came up with just one rebound and fouled out in 17 minutes.

"We haven't been deep all year," Thompson said. "Not having Roy and Jeff on the floor, particularly against this team when we wanted to put them on the floor together. Was that part of the equation, our two interior players in foul trouble? Yes. It definitely hurt us."

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