In a crosstown battle on Thursday night, the Georgetown men’s basketball team (7-0, Big East) fended off the Howard Bison (1-9, MEAC), 81-67. With the win, the Hoyas remain undefeated in the Patrick Ewing Era. Junior center Jessie Govan continued his stellar play with 24 points and 16 rebounds, while junior guard Kaleb Johnson chipped in 18 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Junior forward Marcus Derrickson added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Hoyas, who never trailed but faced a tough battle from the scrappy Bison. Sophomore guard CJ Williams poured in 28 points to lead the Bison, who shot 56 percent from the field in the second half to cut a 20-point deficit to five, before eventually running out of gas.
“I told them before the game that Howard is a quality team and that we can’t take them lightly,” said Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing. “We should have put them away when we went up 20.”
The Hoyas came out strong in the first half, racing out to a 20-6 lead through eight early points by Johnson, and eventually a 46-30 halftime edge. Georgetown was also able to capitalize on its significant size advantage, dumping the ball down low to Govan en route to a first half double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) for the star center. The Hoyas took care of the ball, committing just five first-half turnovers against the Bison’s zone, and also shot well from the outside, making six of their first 10 from behind the three-point arc. However, Ewing thought his team may have relied a little too much on the deep ball, leading to a poorer second half shooting performance.
“We started settling for too many jump shots. We were doing a great job getting the ball into the interior of the defense, with Jessie and Marcus. They [Howard] didn’t have anyone who could stop them,” Ewing said.
Georgetown also struggled to contain the Howard offense in the second half, surrendering 42 points and a plethora of open shots. The Hoyas allowed Williams to get free off of a number of ball screen and pin-down actions, which the guard exploited to the tune of 18 second-half points.
“When he’s [Williams] on the weak side, we can’t relax,” Ewing said. “This is something we went over in practice. You have to stay low, get in a defensive center field position, and be ready.”
After the Hoyas took their largest lead of the game at 64-44 with 11:56 left in the second half, the Bison launched into a 19-6 run, capped by a Williams three from the corner immediately after Ewing instructed his players to drop back into a zone. When asked about how his team allowed Howard back into the game, Govan was candid.
“I think we started to lose focus, we just thought the game was over,” Govan said. “Coach got into us during a timeout and let us know the game wasn’t over, and we still had to play and execute our offense.”
The Hoyas would respond to the Bison run with five quick points of their own, as Johnson converted a sweet up-and-under in transition following a Williams three that cut the Georgetown lead to five. Derrickson drained a three from the top of the key with 2:22 left to add some more breathing room, and Johnson sealed the game with an offensive stick-back off of a Govan miss with 1:30 remaining.
While the eyes of Georgetown fans are trained on December 16, when the Hoyas face off against bitter rival Syracuse (7-1, ACC), all Govan and his teammates can do is look at the challenge at hand: beating North Carolina A&T (5-3, MEAC) following a short turnaround on Saturday.
“We know Syracuse is coming up,” said Govan with a laugh. “But we can’t focus on them right now. Our opponent today was Howard, and our opponent on Saturday is North Carolina A&T so that’s who we’re going to get focused for.”
The Hoyas return to action on Saturday at Capital One Arena. The game tips off at 2:30 p.m. and can be watched on FS1. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for breaking news and game day updates.