When Eric Floyd, the leading scorer in Georgetown history, trotted out with three other seniors to take his final career bow and receive a silver cup last night at Capital Centre, even the Providence players stood and applauded.
Perhaps the brief pregame ceremony affected Providence. Something must have. Twelfth-ranked Georgetown held the Friars without a field goal for almost 10 minutes in the first half en route to a 60-42 Big East victory before 12,812.
The Hoyas, 12-0 at the Centre this year, raised their record to 22-6 and 9-4 in the conference. Villanova defeated Connecticut, 67-63, in overtime last night and is assured of at least a tie for the conference title. With one game to play, Villanova is 19-6 and 10-3 in conference play. Georgetown closes out the regular season Saturday at Connecticut while Villanova, which lost both regular season games to Georgetown this year, finishes in Providence.
Hoya Coach John Thompson and Floyd agreed Georgetown's defense didn't come close to matching the effort in Saturday's 12-point win over then-fourth-ranked Missouri. But it was good enough to make Providence look like members of a brick-layers union.
It didn't take long to figure out why the Friars (10-15, 2-11) have lost seven of their last eight games, three of them in overtime. Providence shot 29 percent from the floor (16 of 55) and missed nine of 19 free throws.
"I'm not so sure it was our defense as much as it was their missing," said Floyd, who had 10 points and was one of four Hoyas in double figures. "Against Missouri, we attacked defensively. We didn't put enough pressure on Providence, force mistakes. They're a tough team to play. They walk it up and won't let you run."
The Providence team shot itself out of the game early. Friars' 6-foot-9 center Otis Thorpe, who outplayed Hoya 7-footer Patrick Ewing in the first game, didn't have a clue this time. He didn't score against Ewing in the first half and his teammates couldn't find a spot to breathe much less an open shot. They made only seven of 26 shots in the first half and fell behind, 31-19.
The score was tied at 14 when the visitors went cold. During the time they missed eight shots from the floor, six free throws and committed six turnovers, Hoyas Bill Martin (13 points), Eric Smith (10) and Anthony Jones were combining for 11 of their team's final 17 first-half points.
"Obviously, we didn't shoot well," said Providence Coach Joe Mullaney. "Part of that was due to the way they defend, the other to our selection of shots. We didn't have much patience and run our offense."
Georgetown shot 50 percent from the floor, but many of its baskets resulted from transition or offensive rebounds. Ewing--who had 11 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks for a season total of 102--Martin and Freddie Brown scored several second-half baskets after offensive rebounds in the final 20 minutes to keeep the Hoyas well ahead.
"One player who should be commended tonight was Freddie Brown, who I thought had a good game," Thompson said. "We didn't play as well as I thought we could. Maybe it was sort of an emotional letdown after the Missouri game."
Providence had only one player in double figures. Billy Fields, an all-Met who attended Osbourn Park (Va.), made four of six shots and finished with 10 points. The Friars' top scorers Ron Jackson and Thorpe each managed only eight, well below their averages of 17.0 and 15.0, respectively.
"Defense has carried us all year," Martin said. "Putting two good defensive game back to back is good for our confidence going into the tournament. Maybe their poor shooting was because of our defense."