WASHINGTON, D.C. – In their first game since entering the national polls, 18th-ranked Georgetown withstood a furious second-half rally before knocking off cross-town rival Howard 62-48 on Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center.
Leading up into their first matchup with Georgetown since 2004, second-year Howard Coach Kevin Nickelberry wanted to make the Hoyas “uncomfortable” in what he dubbed a battle of “Skills versus Wills”.
Despite jumping out to an early 17-0 advantage, Georgetown (8-1) was forced into the uncomfortable position of leading by just two points on four separate occasions in the second half against a team that they had never lost to (6-0).
Mike Phillips, who had a game-high 14 points for the Bison, brought Howard (3-6) back to within two for the last time after his jumper cut Georgetown’s lead to 42-40 with 7 minutes 33 seconds remaining.
Georgetown responded with a 20-8 run to end the game as Hollis Thompson, the reigning Big East Player of the Week, hit two free throws on the very next Hoyas possession before an Otto Porter steal and thunderous dunk brought the crowd of 8,120 to their feet.
Thompson came into the game shooting nearly 60 percent from three-point range but he failed to connect against Howard, going 0 for 4. The crafty junior found another way to get into double-figures for the eighth time in nine games in an unusual place – the free throw line. After attempting just nine shots from the charity stripe for the season, Thompson went 8 for 11 on his way to 12 points.
Thompson was joined in double figures by Jason Clark (12 points) and Porter who had a team-high 13. It was the first time that an underclassmen led the team in scoring.
Coach John Thompson III was very complimentary after the game and didn’t want to take anything away from Howard’s second half comeback attempt by making excuses.
“They play hard, they compete, they don’t look at the score, and they did that tonight,” Thompson III said about Howard after his team’s sixth straight win.
“They scratched and clawed and got back in the game. Whatever the turning point was, I don’t remember, but we were able to make a few plays at the end to pull away.”
Georgetown shot just 33 percent from the field, eight percent from three-point range, and hit just one shot from deep. All three were season-lows by a wide margin for a team known for its offensive efficiency.
Up Next: American (8-3) visits the Verizon Center on Saturday December 17th at noon. The Eagles, who had their eight game winning streak snapped at St. Francis (PA) in their last outing, are led by Vanderbilt transfer Charles Hinkle (22.3 points per game).
Hoyas Notes: Georgetown has now won 33-straight home non-conference games. Georgetown released a statement regarding the health of freshman center Tyler Adams thirty minutes before the Howard game. After feeling chest pains earlier in the week before practice, Adams was immediately taken to the Georgetown University Hospital. Adams is out indefinitely.