After a brutal loss to Dartmouth to start the season, the Georgetown Hoyas got out to a better start on Tuesday and pulled away in the second half to beat (and cover!) American 79-57.
Freshman everything Aminu Mohammed led the Hoyas with 14 points (4-11, 2-3 3PT) and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes. Sophomore Dante Harris had 13 points (4-9, 1-3 3PT) and 4 assists in 28 minutes. Senior Donald Carey added 12 points and a team-high 6 assists.
Senior guard Stacy Beckton led the Eagles with 16 points (6-12, 2-6 3PT). He was the only American player to score in double-digits.
For the game, Georgetown shot 28-63 (44% FG) from the field and 7-24 (29% 3PT) from three. The Eagles shot 21-61 (34% FG) from the field and 4-19 (21% 3PT) from three for the game. The Hoyas dominated the boards (50-31) with their size and had 40 points in the paint to American’s 28.
The game started with Georgetown playing solid defense, using their athleticism to force two early steals. A promising sequence that showed the potential of the young Hoyas in the first 4 saw Mohammed block a shot, then hit a kickout 3 on the other end. Dante Harris followed with a stutter-step drive and the Hoyas were up 8-5.
The rest of the first half was close, as American hung tight throughout and cut it to 27-24 with 5 minutes to play in the half. The Hoyas went on an 11-5 run to end the half, punctuated by the greatest pass this fan has seen in recent memory from Mohammed to Harris at the 3:28 mark. Mohammed, simply put, is the most talented freshman since Otto Porter.
There were ups and downs in the first half for the Hoyas. Some of the ups were tantalizing (the Mohammed pass), while the downs were growing pains. Jalin Billingsley fouling on a 3-pointer at 12:41, then quickly following it up 8 seconds later with a travel on the other end. Tim Ighoefe fouling a much smaller guard on a fadeaway at 7:30. American’s Johnny O’Neil hitting a pick and pop 3 after being forgotten on defense at 7:07. These things will happen with a young team, and Georgetown was able to use its size and athleticism to slowly build a lead by getting out in transition and winning on the boards.
Georgetown led 38-29 at the half. They led the rebounding battle 30-17, and had 13 second-chance points to American’s none. Harris had 9 points and 4 rebounds and was very aggressive getting the team out in transition, sometimes to a fault (8 first-half turnovers).
Georgetown’s start to the second half was very flat. American jumped out to an 11-5 run before the first media timeout, cutting the lead to 43-39. The first minute of the second half was particularly troubling. American’s Colin Smalls immediately hit a corner 3, Georgetown’s Kaiden Rice missed a layup, and the Hoyas gave up consecutive offensive rebounds on the other end and a putback dunk. Ewing called a timeout 63 seconds into the half after American cut the lead to 4.
American continued to keep the game close until a 9-2 Hoyas run that saw them take a 53-43 lead. The run was led by back-to-back Harris interior passes that yielded a dunk and two free throws from Ighoefe.
The inflection point in the game was when Ighoefe picked up his fourth foul with 10:43 left in the second half. He was replaced by Ryan Mutombo, who immediately rolled to the basket for an easy bucket. The team then went on an 18-0 run led by the freshmen quartet of Mutombo, Billingsley, Tyler Beard and Jordan Riley paired with Donald Carey.
The Hoyas never looked back after the run, showcasing their ability to get out and run as well as outmatch a smaller team. This was a step that needed to taken, as they lost to a Dartmouth team with a similar profile two days ago. It wasn’t pretty the whole time, but it was good to see some combinations of freshmen gel and the veterans help steady the ship to beat a team that…well…they definitely should beat.
The Hoyas return to action on Friday at 6:30 against Siena (0-3), who lost to Yale tonight and has lost its first 3 games by 20 or more points. More to come!