- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2005

Providence forward Ryan Gomes drove a 10-foot stake into Georgetown’s postseason hopes last night before 11,863 at MCI Center, flipping home a spinning leaner in the lane with 1.7 seconds remaining to give the Friars a 68-65 victory that undoubtedly burst the Hoyas’ NCAA tournament bubble.

Gomes, who was fouled on the play by junior forward Brandon Bowman (19 points, five rebounds), finished a three-point play from the line. The Hoyas had time only for Bowman’s 60-foot desperation heave as the horn sounded on their NCAA hopes.

The Hoyas (16-11, 8-8 Big East) have lost five straight to close the regular season and would need to win this week’s Big East tournament for an NCAA tournament bid.

The seventh-seeded Hoyas open tournament play at Madison Square Garden at 7p.m. Wednesday against Seton Hall. With a victory over the Pirates, whom the Hoyas dominated a month ago, Georgetown would advance to face scorching No.2 seed Connecticut in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

In the game the Hoyas needed most this season, Providence exposed their lack of frontcourt depth. A blue-collar bunch long on brawn and short on finesse, the Friars (14-16, 4-12) turned the tables on the Hoyas last night after years of enduring Georgetown’s brawlball tactics.

Gomes (26 points, seven rebounds), a bullish 6-foot-7 all-league standout, and freshman forward Randall Hanke (18 points, 12 rebounds) attacked the Georgetown interior from tip to whistle. The result was a series of quick fouls on Georgetown’s freshman interior tandem of Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert.

Hibbert fouled out with 11:07 remaining after playing just 17 minutes. Green didn’t fare much better, watching most of the first half from the bench and playing sporadically in the second after collecting his fourth foul trying to stop the slashing Gomes with 13:18 remaining.

Without their two most physical rebounders for much of the action, the Hoyas were slaughtered on the boards 38-18. Providence scored a shocking 25 second-chance points.

“They had 20 offensive rebounds,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson III. “That was the difference in the game. … I’ve been involved in a lot of games where [my team] has been outrebounded, but I’ve never seen anything quite like that. It’s amazing that we were in the game and still had a chance to win.”

After falling behind 39-33 at the half following a late 13-0 Providence run buoyed by offensive rebounds, Georgetown shaved the deficit to two points on the first two possessions of the second half on a basket from Green (15 points in 23 minutes) and a 3-pointer from freshman point man Jonathan Wallace (nine points).

The Hoyas then spent the rest of the half nipping at the Friars’ heels as Thompson substituted rarely used reserves Amadou Kilkenny Diaw and Sead Dizdarevic on the defensive end in an attempt to protect the foul-strapped Green.

Green tied the score time and again on offense before heading to the bench to watch Gomes and Co. shred his replacements on the other end. The last tie came when Green split a double-team of Hanke and Gomes and scooped in a left-handed runner with 37 seconds left to make it 65-65.

When Providence point man Donnie McGrath lobbed Gomes the ball at the top of the key with 12 seconds left, Georgetown sent three players at the Friars’ senior star, who finishes the season as the Big East’s leading scorer (21.7 points). But Gomes muscled past junior guard Ashanti Cook, slid around Green and finally spun through Bowman to score.

Barring a miracle at Madison Square Garden, Thompson’s first season on the Hilltop is likely to be remembered for the team’s five-game slump to the finish line that included losses to league basement teams St. John’s and Providence.

“It’s right up there with the most disappointing losses of my career,” said Thompson, who is almost certain to take his team merely to the NIT. “It’s not that we lost. It’s how we lost.

“We’re not that deep, and not having Jeff and Roy on the floor certainly contributed to our rebounding problems. … But it doesn’t matter who is on the floor, you can’t get beaten like that on the boards. I don’t really know what to say or how to explain it.”

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