Georgetown's defense built a 15-point lead over Providence last night, and that was a big enough cushion for the Hoyas to fall back on late in the game, giving them a 73-63 win at Capital Centre.

The Hoyas (18-8, 8-7 in the Big East) broke a two-game conference losing streak behind a game-high 22 points from Mark Tillmon, including seven that came after Providence had cut the lead to 58-52. Steve Wright had 22 for the Friars, who lost their fifth straight game.

Perry McDonald scored 13 points, leaving him one point short of 1,000 career points. And guard Bobby Winston dished out 10 assists in 27 minutes for Georgetown, which is fifth in the conference, a half-game ahead of Seton Hall. The Hoyas play the Pirates at home Saturday in their regular season finale.

Providence (10-16, 4-11) had trouble against Georgetown's trapping defenses in the first half, but was able to get the ball inside to Wright in the second half. He was eight of 10 from the foul line in the second half.

But, after Eric Murdock's basket with 4:16 to play brought the Friars within six, Tillmon scored on the next three Georgetown possessions. He made a long three-pointer with 2:59 to play to increase the lead to nine. After Wright scored from inside, Tillmon came down court and hit a pullup foul line jumper to keep the lead at nine, 63-54.

After Murdock missed a jumper, he fouled Tillmon with 2:04 left, and Tillmon made two free throws to give the Hoyas an 11-point edge at 65-54. Georgetown put the game away by hitting eight of 10 foul shots in the last 1:34 of the game. Overall, Georgetown hit 22 of 27 (81.5 percent) from the foul line.

"Mark scores too for us," Georgetown Coach John Thompson said. " . . . If Mark's going well, he'll take the basket."

"We needed this win," Tillmon said. "We came out and played hard on defense. That's what helped us today, because we wanted to slow down Delray Brooks {held to eight points, six below his season's average}. If {his shot} is there, I'm going to take it. If I have the open jumper, I'll take it."

Tillmon took over last night when Charles Smith, who has been playing with a dislocated left shoulder for two weeks, was just two of 11 from the floor.

"I think he's hiding it, to tell you the truth," Thompson said. "That's why I was fussing at him, asking him if it was all right. He's running inside without moving. He's lying to me about it, because he wants to win. He's not getting the shot off as quick as he was."

Smith, who finished with 10 points, said the shoulder was bothering him, but not enough to change his shooting patterns.

"It's bothering me a little bit," he said. "I'm still going to take my shots, because I know I can make those shots. I'm not 100 percent, put it that way."

The Hoyas jumped on the Friars in the first half, building an 18-16 lead to 31-19. Smith scored five straight points, Tillmon added a basket, and Jaren Jackson scored all six of his points in a 2:55 period, as Georgetown went ahead by a dozen.

But the Friars closed to five at the half on a three-pointer by Chris Watts at the buzzer.

Georgetown scored seven points at the start of the second half to go up by 41-29. The lead went up to 45-31 after a layin by McDonald (one of several breakaway baskets Georgetown got against Providence's full-court press) and a transition slam by Ronnie Highsmith.

The Friars closed to 47-36 before Tillmon hit successive three-pointers; the second one put Georgetown up by 53-38 at the 12-minute mark.

After a jumper by forward Anthony Tucker (who returned to the Hoyas' lineup after missing two games this month for "academic rehabilitation"), Georgetown was ahead by 55-40. But Providence's press came alive, and the Friars were able to get the ball to Wright, who posted up to get fouls and go to the line.

A three-point play by Quinton Burton cut the lead to 11 with 8:55 to play. After a Tillmon free throw, Wright hit six straight free throws, the last of which trimmed the deficit to 56-50 at 5:22. Dwayne Bryant made two free throws for the Hoyas before Murdock's jumper brought Providence back within six.