WASHINGTON (AP) — When Georgetown was fouling whoever had the ball, Providence coach Ed Cooley wanted to make sure it was in the hands of Ben Bentil or Kris Dunn. Actually, that wasn’t a bad strategy all game.
Bentil and Dunn each scored 26 points in dominating fashion as the No. 10 Friars held off several second-half charges to beat the Hoyas 73-69 on Saturday night. The two top scorers in the Big East showed once again why they’re one of the best one-two punches in the country.
“I’m going to get it to two guys at the end of the game,” Cooley said. “We’re going to ride and die with these two guys here as long as I got them, and I hope I have them a long time.”
The rest of the Big East would love to be rid of the problems Bentil and Dunn can present. Whenever Bentil wasn’t hurting the Hoyas (13-9, 6-3) inside, Dunn was driving to the basket at one end and containing top Georgetown scorer D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera at the other.
Providence (18-4, 6-3) got 10 points and 14 rebounds from Rodney Bullock, but no other player had more than six points. It was the Bentil and Dunn show all night long.
“They have two players that are elite, and they played like it,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.
Bentil made his first six shots from the floor, and Dunn mixed in his points as they combined for 29 points to Georgetown’s 28 at halftime. The Hoyas kept cutting into the Friars’ lead in the second half, but mistakes proved costly and prevented them from pulling off a second upset of a top 10 team in as many weeks.
Dunn wowed, as usual, offensively and defensively. Smith-Rivera finished with 18 points and L.J. Peak had 19, but Dunn had four steals and a few more tips to disrupt Georgetown’s offense.
“How many steals did Dunn have, four? It felt like 12,” Thompson said. “He’s a one-man wrecking crew on defense.”
Thompson continued, saying Dunn “may be the best guard that’s come through this league in a long time.” That’s lofty praise, but doing a little bit of everything for Providence is something Dunn embraces.
“I just do what the team needs me to do,” Dunn said. “If that’s to play defense, I’m going to do that, if it’s getting everybody involved, I’m going to do that.”
What was most important was keeping Bentil involved down low. He shot 8 of 12 from the floor and added crucial points from the free-throw line, making all six of his foul shots in the final minute to put the game away.
“That’s one of my strengths, so I’m very comfortable going to the line,” Bentil said.
The Friars look comfortable too, as they improved to 6-0 on the road. Cooley said he’d rather be home, but his players have continued to show they’ll win anywhere.
“I wouldn’t say we like coming on the road,” Dunn said. “We’re doing a good job on the road. … We’re just a tough team right now.”
Georgetown, which erased an 11-point deficit to beat Creighton earlier in the week and defeated No. 5 Xavier on Jan. 19, couldn’t pull off the same magic against Providence.
Providence: With his lay-in midway through the first half, Dunn became the 48th Friars player to record 1,000 career points. He’s in striking distance of being the first player in school history to reach 1,000 points, 500 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals. … The Friars improved to 6-1 in games decided by four points or fewer.
Georgetown: Isaac Copeland’s struggles continued as the forward shot 1 of 5 from the floor. Copeland is 5 of 23 with 11 points in his past four games. … Georgetown shot 5 of 19 from 3-point territory. … Players wore pink sneakers and pink as part of their uniforms in support of Coaches vs. Cancer.
Providence: Visits DePaul on Tuesday.
Georgetown: Visits Butler on Tuesday.