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Hustle & Flow: Shorthanded Hoyas Show Grit Against Howard in 85-73 Win

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NCAA Basketball: Providence at Georgetown Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After a glorious win over Syracuse on Saturday, a shorthanded Georgetown won a hard-fought, sloppy game against Howard, 85-73.

Let’s not bury the lede: this was the Tyler Beard game. He led the Hoyas with 23 points in 30 minutes. He paired well with Dante Harris (10 pts, 7 assists, 3 steals) and Donald Carey (14 pts, 4-7 3PT), and showed that he can be a force in the backcourt. Collin Holloway (15 pts, 5 rebounds) and Malcolm Wilson (13 pts, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks) were also integral on a night when the Hoyas were shorthanded, Aminu Mohammed was in foul trouble, and the Hoyas turned the ball over 23(!) times.

The Hoyas were down a few guys in this one. Kaiden Rice and Jalen Billingsley were out due to a “non-covid illness”, while Jordan Riley and Kobe Clark also did not dress. It was revealed at halftime that Riley is out with a shoulder injury that will require surgery, which is a tough blow for Georgetown as it nears Big East play. Howard came into the game featuring the nation’s top three-point shooter, Kyle Foster, and a small roster ready and willing to fire from 3.

Rice’s injury thrust Collin Holloway into the starting lineup, and the first half was sloppy and frenetic. The Hoyas had 8 turnovers in the first 8 minutes and 12 turnovers in the first half. After a seesaw first ten minutes, Howard hit two consecutive threes and a free throw to build a 9-point lead, 31-22. Howard started the game 5-6 from 3 and Georgetown was struggling on defense. Frankly, things looked a bit bleak.

The tides turned when the Hoyas went on a Beard-led 15-2 run to get it to 37-33. Ewing went small with a Harris-Carey-Beard backcourt, and Beard’s 10 first-half points, tough defense, and ballhandling all helped steady what was a troubling start. A lineup of Harris-Carey-Beard-Holloway-Azinge (yes, Chuma Azinge!) ended the first half on a mini-run, with the Hoyas leading at half, 46-39. Even though Georgetown went small for stretches in the first half, the size and strength advantage was on display throughout as the Hoyas had 30 paint points and 20 points off turnovers.

Howard didn’t back down in the second half, cutting the lead to 56-52 at the 14:49 mark. Mohammed picked up his fourth foul with 13 minutes remaining and Georgetown leading 61-52. Although Mohammed was not at his best in his minutes, he still provided his usual defense and toughness. Beard answered the call after Aminu’s fourth, hitting a midrange jumper and transition layup to stretch the Hoyas lead to 65-53. Howard’s porous defense was a constant, and Georgetown pushed its lead to 72-56 on a Holloway layup with 9:14 to play.

Howard stayed within striking defense as Georgetown stayed in foul trouble and continued to turn the ball over. Mohammed’s game ended with 6 minutes left when he fouled out, and the Hoyas leading 74-63. The back-and-forth sloppiness continued, with Howard nipping at Georgetown’s heels but never able to play the requisite defense to fully get back in it. Carey’s dagger 3 with 2 minutes to play made it 81-69, and the game was out of reach.

On a night when Georgetown was depleted and its best player was off, guys stepped up. Beard, Holloway and Wilson were all great. The lesser non-conference competition was without a doubt a major factor, but the Hoyas hopes should be high for all three of these guys to develop. Beard is a hardnosed freshman who can shoot, defend, and play both PG and SG. He had some great minutes against Syracuse, and followed it up with a dominant performance tonight. Holloway is a versatile, strong sophomore forward who can get places off the dribble, and Wilson is a long junior defender who has shown he can be a force defensively against smaller lineups. The real test remains with TCU and then the Big East slate, but there’s something here with the young guys not named Aminu Mohammed. Their continued development will be vital to Georgetown’s success in 2022.

The Hoyas return to action on Saturday at 2:00 against Jamie Dixon-led TCU (8-1), who are coming off wins over Utah and Texas A&M. Hoya Saxa!