A bitter end: Providence kicks Georgetown from BIG EAST Tournament

March 15, 2024

Photo by Daniel Rankin

Georgetown men’s basketball (9-23, 2-18 BIG EAST) fell to the Providence Friars (21-12, 10-10 BIG EAST) in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York, knocking them from the tournament and officially ending their season. The Hoyas were led by an impressive performance from sophomore guard Jayden Epps, who had his seventh 30-point outing of the season and became just the second Hoya, along with Allen Iverson, to score 30 points in a BIG EAST Tournament game. He achieved that on 12-of-23 shooting, standing as the sole Hoya in double figures on the night.

The game opened with back-and-forth ball movement with missed shots on both ends and two blocked shots from Georgetown junior guard Dontrez Styles until an Epps jumper in the paint put the Hoyas on the board. The Friars responded with a three from junior guard and BIG EAST Player of the Year Devin Carter, which was followed by a three from Epps, giving Georgetown an early 5-3 lead. The Hoyas’ momentum was short-lived as Providence staged a 20-4 run in five minutes, taking a 23-9 lead. The Hoyas, however, pushed through, pressing offensively and gradually chipping away at Providence’s defense and the double-digit deficit. A three-pointer from senior guard Jay Heath made it a seven-point game with ten minutes remaining in the half, a small comeback reminiscent of the teams’ first matchup in January.

The Hoyas continued to work to keep it a single-digit game as another Epps three made it 28-21. Unfortunately, another 10-3 spurt from the Friars pushed the lead to 38-24 with four minutes remaining in the frame. The Hoyas were unable to recover, providing two turnovers and a series of missed threes, and Providence took a 40-27 lead into halftime.

The Friars took advantage of their momentum out of the locker room and came out hot, scoring five unanswered and forcing Georgetown head coach Ed Cooley to take an early timeout. Out of the huddle, the Hoyas took their first run of the game, ignited by a reverse dunk from Styles and a corner three-pointer from senior guard Wayne Bristol Jr., bringing them within 11 points at 49-38 and forcing Providence to call a timeout. After the break, an Epps block led to another jumper, cutting the Friars’ lead to 49-40 with 15 minutes remaining on the clock, providing hope for a potential Hoya comeback. 

Providence responded with a pair of threes from graduate forward and leading scorer Josh Oduro and graduate guard Ticket Gaines, helping the Friars push the lead to as many as 16 at 63-47 with six minutes remaining. In the final five minutes of play, another run from Georgetown—which included five points from the Hoyas second-leading scorer, freshman forward Drew Fielder—made it an eight-point game at 64-56. However, a game-trend of poor free throw shooting and missed shots in the paint plagued the Hoyas late, giving Providence another edge to eventually take the victory at 74-56. 

Overall, the Friars outperformed the Hoyas in almost every way–the most significant being from the foul line, with Georgetown’s 21.1% free throw percentage compared to Providence’s 77.8%. And while the Hoyas’ season might be over, Head Coach Ed Cooley claims the season, despite  the disappointment, is an opportunity to improve, saying in the post-game press conference, “I wish I could have done a much better job with them over the course of the 32 games we played. It didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but it’s an opportunity for us to grow, get better,” adding that this is only the beginning. 

For ongoing coverage and updates on Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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