WASHINGTON — For a while, Georgetown couldn’t stop Bryce Cotton. He scored 19 of his 21 Providence points over the final seven minutes of the first half.
He probably could earn style points from figure skating judges for the way he contorted his body to get off a 3-point buzzer-beater that give his team a four-point lead at the break.
Predictably, the Hoyas threw everything at him in the second half. Man-to-man. Zone. Double teams beyond the 3-point arc. The taller Jabril Trawick in his face, switching up with the speedier Markel Starks.
It was just enough. Cotton had trouble finding open looks. He finished with 31 points, but the Hoyas pulled away late for an 83-71 win Monday night.
"Obviously, Cotton is unbelievable," Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. "He put on a show today. … What we did is we just made a conscious effort that five guys on the court have to guard him."
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 22 points, including his first successful 3-point attempt in more than two weeks, and had five assists and five rebounds to lead the Hoyas (15-9, 6-6 Big East), who have won four straight to complete a climb back to .500 in conference.
"We’re still digging our way out of the hole," Thompson said.
Smith-Rivera had missed 17 consecutive 3-pointers entering the game, but he went 2 for 4 from long range Monday night. Starks added 14 points, and Georgetown committed only five turnovers to avenge last month’s 18-point loss at Providence, a defeat that ended a streak of eight straight wins over the Friars.
"It was more of a redemption game than anything," Smith-Rivera said.
Cotton, Kadeem Batts (14 points) and Tyler Harris (13) accounted for 58 of the 71 points scored by the Friars (16-9, 6-6), who have lost three in a row. Cotton finished 8 for 14 from the field, including 5 for 6 from 3-point range, but his teammates missed crucial open shots when he was drawing extra attention from the Hoyas down the stretch.
"He should’ve had 50, to be honest with you," Providence coach Ed Cooley said, "because I thought there was a lot of no-calls coming down the lane. Whatever the new rules and points of emphasis was, and I put that in bold print — ‘WAS’ — hmph, it’s back to the Big East."
The Friars were trailing 27-15 in the first half when Cotton took off. He scored the next nine points with a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around three free throws from getting fouled while taking a 3. He put an incredible amount of spin on a layup that gave the Friars their first lead, and the acrobatic 3-pointer put Providence up 36-32 at the break.
Georgetown managed just five points — all on free throws — over the final seven minutes of the first half, but the Hoyas regained the lead on two free throws from Smith-Rivera that made the score 45-43 with 13:54 to play.
Cotton created space for himself to hit a 3-pointer that put Providence back in front, and his two free throws gave the Friars a 54-47 lead, but the Hoyas responded with a 9-0 run and kept Cotton quiet the rest of the way.
Smith-Rivera and Trawick both hit 3s in the 8-2 run that gave the Hoyas a seven-point lead with three minutes remaining.
"Little frustrated right now because our team is really close," Cooley said. "We’re really close, we’re in every game. And we’ve got to get lucky, so hopefully the next couple of games we can get back."