Georgetown beats Providence, 79-70, behind Chris Wright and Greg Monroe

By Liz Clarke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- On a night when Greg Monroe found it easier to pass than to shoot, Julian Vaughn supplied the inside muscle Georgetown sorely needed to subdue a scrappy Big East foe desperate to stop a three-game slide.

Behind Vaughn's career-high 19 points, seventh-ranked Georgetown overcame an uneven performance of its own -- as well as an eight-point, second-half deficit and a rebounding deficiency from start to finish -- to defeat Providence, 79-70.

The back-court tandem of Chris Wright and Austin Freeman combined for 38 points. And Monroe, silenced much of the first half after drawing two early fouls, still managed a double-double, with 12 points and 12 assists.

"Road wins in this league are hard to come by," said a visibly relieved Coach John Thompson III. "This was a game where things were not going well for us in a lot of different ways. We were extremely frustrated in many ways for a large part of that game. That's because of Providence -- what they were doing on offense and their tenacity on defense. We hung in there and figured it out."

Despite its superior shooting, Georgetown (18-5, 8-4) trailed much of the game to a team of less skilled shooters who battled harder for second and third chances.

Rebounds told the story, with Providence (12-12, 4-8) grabbing 42 boards (16 of them by Bilal Dixon) to Georgetown's 31.

While the Hoyas were more artful practitioners of the game, the early advantage went to the aggressor -- Providence -- which took a 33-31 lead into the break.

Typically closed-lipped about his behind-the-scenes tactical talks, Thompson said his halftime speech consisted of a single message: Rebounds.

The Hoyas never managed to right the imbalance on the boards. But as the game wore on, Providence's shaky shooting deteriorated (from 38.9 percent to 31.3 percent in the second half). The Friars were a woeful 21 of 33 from the free throw line, as well.

And Monroe and Vaughn, who didn't hesitate to shove a broad shoulder against Providence's big men, gradually asserted themselves in the paint, where Georgetown finished with a 46-28 scoring edge.

Although Monroe was selfless to a fault much of the game, taking just one shot in the first half and only six in the game, Providence Coach Keno Davis marveled at the sophomore center's versatility.

"He's an unbelievable talent," Davis said of Monroe. "To be able to get 12 assists -- he's going to play a long time. And I'm going to enjoy watching him play. Not in the Big East; at a different level."

The Hoyas handed Providence its fourth consecutive loss. But rather than get discouraged, Davis said that he hoped that his players would look at Georgetown's performance as a measuring stick.

"I hope that [loss] will leave an lasting impression for our guys -- hopefully not too lasting -- on how they need to improve in the off-season," Davis said.

For Georgetown, the victory held a different significance. In averting a loss to another unranked team, the Hoyas broke what had become a troubling pattern of following an impressive victory with an uninspired performance.

While Tuesday's showing at the Dunkin' Donuts Center wasn't dazzling, it was dogged.

Georgetown shot 55 percent in the early going, while Providence was a misfiring mess, whiffing on it first five attempts from three-point range.

Brian McKenzie finally connected from long range to pull Providence within a basket, 22-20. And Jamine Peterson, who had a team-high 23 points, knotted the game at 22 with a jumper with 5:45 remaining in the period.

Marshon Brooks vaulted the Friars to the lead with a three-pointer. And with Providence ahead, 33-29, Monroe rejoined the line-up after idling with two fouls.

Freeman capped a fast break with an easy layup to pull Georgetown within two. But with a chance to pull even, Monroe turned the ball over.

Providence came out blazing in the second half, with consecutive three-pointers that gave them a 41-33 lead.

Vaughn roared back with five unanswered points for Georgetown.

Wright stripped the ball and converted the three-point play to put Georgetown up, 49-48. And Providence never led again.

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