While Providence Coach Joe Mullaney watched his Friars commit 26 turnovers inside the Civic Center tonight, his car was hammered by a skidding vehicle outside. Neither misfortune could spoil Mullaney's evening.
Building a 12-point lead by the midpoint of the second half, Providence hung on to shock Georgetown, 50-49, and give Mullaney the victory in the first coaching matchup with one of his prize pupils, Georgetown Coach John Thompson.
The Hoyas' third straight defeat, coming against a team that was 0-5 in the Big East, was more attributable to some dreadful shooting by the visitors than to any special coaching techniques. Providence used a triangle setup on offense most of the night and the turnovers indicate its general lack of success.
Georgetown, however, managed to make only 21 of 58 shots from the field and seven of 15 foul shots. Additionally, the Hoyas were bested on the backboards, 34-31. In the first half, when Providence was building a 29-21 lead, the Friars got as many rebounds off the offensive boards, six, as Georgetown did on defense.
"They didn't really shoot it well," Mullaney said. "We didn't execute particularly well, and we turned it over more than a few times, but they didn't capitalize."
"Our kids are trying hard, maybe too hard," Thompson said. "They're missing shots they would normally make. I've probably started being a counselor rather than a basketball coach, and maybe I'd better go back to being a basketball coach.
"There were complaints that Patrick Ewing has been too agressive. Tonight nobody was aggressive, at least in the first half. We played stupidly and got way behind. We can't seem to play defense anymore without getting in foul trouble, and we're not getting fouled."
While many of the 7,953 fans pleaded with the Friars to slow play down with their second-half advantage, they continued to throw the ball away, step on the sidelines and walk in the lane. Despite all those transgressions, Georgetown, after pulling within 49-45 with 4:03 remaining, was able to record only one field goal the rest of the way.
Ron Jackson scored the Friars' last point with 1:50 left, a free throw that made it 50-45. Providence failed on the front half of four one-and-one tries thereafter.
With 1:20 left, Keith Lomax of Providence went up to block a shot by Georgetown's Eric Floyd and fouled him, with Floyd hitting the floor hard. Before Floyd got up, Ewing shoved Lomax and there was a brief staring match between the two freshmen. The important outcome, though, was a pair of foul shots by Floyd that made it 50-47.
In subsequent Georgetown opportunities, Anthony Jones missed a shot, Eric Smith was called for charging on a drive to the basket, Jones launched an air ball and Bill Martin fumbled away a rebound on a missed Providence free throw.
With Jackson at the line and 11 seconds left, Mullaney sent his other four players into the back court. Since neither team had a timeout left, his orders were not to foul and not to pass the ball in should Georgetown score.
So, with three seconds left after Jackson had missed, Floyd leaned into a defender as he scored the game's final basket. Then Jackson made a risky throw downcourt instead of letting the clock expire.
"We had talked about their having no timeouts, and Jackson throws it in anyway," Mullaney said. "Thank God it didn't hit the backboard. What can I tell you?"