Batts' 21 lead Providence over Georgetown 70-52

The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Georgetown's nine-game winning streak against Big East rival Providence is officially history.

Led by 21 points from senior Kadeem Batts and 20 points from classmate Bryce Cotton, the Friars ran past the Hoyas 70-52 Wednesday night. The win is PC's first in three Big East tries while Georgetown lost for the first time in conference play.

Georgetown hadn't lost to Providence since March 2005 and had won its previous three trips to the Dunkin' Donuts Center. Given the recent lop-sided nature of the series, Hoyas head coach John Thompson III quickly dismissed the idea that his players took the Friars lightly.

''That's ridiculous,'' Thompson emphatically stated. ''This is college basketball, this is conference play. Every game is important and every team can win on any given night. The question of us just showing up never went through anybody's head.''

The Friars (11-5, 1-2) were able to bid adieu to their three-game losing skid in emphatic fashion. They ripped off 14 straight second-half points to pull away as back-to-back 3-pointers by Josh Fortune made it 43-34 PC with under 14 minutes remaining.

Fortune ended up with 13 points, 11 coming in a second half where PC outscored Georgetown 42-29. The two points he scored in the first half came on a layup that just beat the halftime buzzer.

''Today we let Josh play and I thought that was a big difference in the game,'' said Providence head coach Cooley.

Said Fortune, ''I thought it was important for me to see the ball go through the net. My teammates told me to keep shooting and that's what I did.''

PC enjoyed a 28-23 halftime lead. The 23 points scored by the Hoyas (10-4, 2-1) represents the second-lowest point total in a half - the team scored 21 points against Colgate on Dec. 7. Georgetown missed its first five shots on its way to shooting 37 percent in the opening 20 minutes and 39.6 percent for the game.

''We were kind of stumbling along in the first half, and they slowly gained confidence, gained momentum,'' Thompson said. ''We came up against a team that's lost a couple in a row, had some bad breaks, and they came out and made the plays to win the game. We didn't.''

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led Georgetown with 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Senior guard Markel Starks (12 points) was the only other Georgetown player to reach double figures. The Hoyas took the floor without starting center Joshua Smith, who missed the game due to academics.

''I think the group that we have in the locker room right there is more than capable of playing better than we did today, whether Josh is here or not,'' Thompson said.

Smith was averaging 11.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in just under 20 minutes.

''I think (the Hoyas playing without Smith) definitely changed their lineup a little bit,'' said Cooley. ''So it changed it, but at the end of the day I'm proud of the way our kids played.''

Cooley was particularly pleased with the way Batts played. After totaling 25 points over the previous three games, the fifth-year senior broke out as the Hoyas were unable to slow him down. Batts went to the free-throw line 12 times and scored 11 points in the first half.

''We got contributions from everybody, but I thought Kadeem set the tone early,'' said Cooley. ''When he plays like that, we are a tough out.''

Said Batts, ''I've had some tough games shooting the ball, but I've continued to play hard even through rough stretches. I'm just going to continue to work hard and see if the ball bounces my way.''

With Batts on the bench with four fouls, the Hoyas moved to within nine points with just under four minutes remaining. Back-to-back threes by LaDontae Henton helped the Friars reclaim some breathing room at 62-45 with 3:33 left.

''When we chipped away, they always made a play,'' said Thompson. ''You have to give credit to them for the way they responded.''

''I'm really, really proud of our players,'' said coach Ed Cooley. ''We've had a couple of tough weeks, starting with two overtime losses, then we didn't play very well at Villanova, which is an understatement.''

The Friars were coming off a 30-point loss to the nationally-ranked Wildcats.

''I'm just glad we were able to get on the winning side in the Big East,'' Cooley said. ''It gives our players some confidence. To lose the way we did against Seton Hall at home and then get blasted on the road (at Villanova). To come back and play this way, I'm proud of our guys. This was a character win for us.''

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