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Dante’s Inferno: Freshman Harris’s 22 Points Lead Georgetown to Wild 97-94 Win Over St. John’s

Despite freshman’s heroics, Hoyas’ win over Red Storm is less epic poem, more comedy of errors

Rafael Suanes / Georgetown Athletics

Georgetown managed to turn the ball over 17 times, yield 20 offensive rebounds, give up a buzzer beater, and nevertheless beat St. John’s 97-94 in overtime on Sunday night. The Hoyas’ first Big East win wasn’t pretty, but it was a win.

The revelation of the night was Dante Harris, who scored a career-high 22 points to lead four Hoyas in double figures. For the second straight game, Harris scored more points than he had in all previous games to date (16; look for a 40 piece from him next week!). He drove speedily, sometimes heedlessly to the rim, juicing a offense that topped 40 points in the first half for the second straight game. He flew around on defense, swiping steals three times, knocking the ball out of bounds on late game possessions twice, and once foolishly committing a foul that gifted St. John’s a crunch time trip to the line. On a team lacking adequate playmaking, energy, and talent, Harris provided all three, along with the usual complement of freshman errors.

Those errors weren’t his alone. Two graduate transfers, Donald Carey and Chudier Bile, combined to commit 10 turnovers on the night, part of a ghastly display of incompetent ball-handling, passing, getting over half court, inbounding — you name it, it involved a Georgetown turnover. On defense, sophomore big man Qudus Wahab, depending on the play, got lost in space or just lost his head chasing blocks, as the Hoyas yielded 19 second-chance points and countless more at the rim as Red Storm big man Isiah Moore amassed a monster line of 26 points and 14 rebounds.

Moore also was on the receiving end of 3 of Wahab’s *9* blocks, so not all of the Hoya post’s pursuits were in vain. And those blocks supplemented a line of 17 points on 7 of 9 shooting and 9 rebounds, just missing out on a triple-double for the evening. Between Wahab, Harris, and freshman guard T.J. Berger (a promising 7 points and a beautiful cross-court dime to Jahvon Blair; can we anoint him Berger Madness yet?!), it looked like an evening to contemplate Georgetown’s future, rather than its sad present. This was never more true than when yet another St. John’s rim attack gave the visitors a seven-point lead with less than three minutes to play, and a script we’d seen acted out three times already appeared to be back for an encore performance.

But then the Hoyas never really went away. Harris drew a foul and canned the ensuing free throws. After a Red Storm turnover, Carey put back a Blair miss. After another turnover, Blair — who had looked seriously shook in missing two free throws just minutes earlier — buried a game-tying three. On the following possession, Blair answered a Moore bucket with a step-back three to put the Hoyas ahead.

And then we got into true Big East After Dark territory. A silly Harris foul gave St. John’s a free throw to tie the game. Blair mishandled the ball, leading to a slapdash Wahab pick that Carey used to slither to the rim for a go-ahead bucket with 9 seconds to play. Wahab blocked a possible game-tying bucket, Blair grabbed the ball, but then fell out of bounds. Then Blair and Wahab combined to allow a last-second inbound under the basket that tied the game, forcing the overtime that no one wanted but, well, it’s 2020.

Overtime was more of the same, as Georgetown scored solely on free throws and a Wahab putback to inch away from St. John’s. The Red Storm’s last, best chance came on a missed free throw, which Moore of course rebounded, but then shot into Wahab’s outstretched palm.

If you’ve read this far, you probably have as many questions, and hopefully more answers, than I do. Georgetown’s coaching, ball-handling, defense, rebounding, and overall talent level are subpar, and in many cases worse. Regina George needs to tell Patrick Ewing to stop trying to make Bile-Timothy Ighoefe lineups happen. Wahab needs to stay at home on defense and stop chasing blocks. Harris needs to keep that starting position even when Jalen Harris returns from injury.

But the Hoyas won, it’s late, and holiday season in the worst year in our memory, so let’s not get too fussy. We got basketball and Georgetown won. We’ll take it. Hoya Saxa.