Howard University freshman guard Elijah Hawkins. [Photo Credit: Howard University]
WASHINGTON – DeMatha Catholic (Md.) graduate Elijah Hawkins drove into the lane against some towering Georgetown defenders, then deftly switched the ball to his left hand for a nifty layup in the first half.
The freshman point guard for Howard University let out a one-word scream of satisfaction along the baseline on Wednesday night as his team took a six-point lead against the Hoyas.
The size of the Hoyas eventually was too much for the visiting Bison, who lost 85-73 at the Capital One Arena in downtown Washington before 4,154 fans.
Despite the loss, the presence of a pair of DeMatha products have Howard primed to perhaps make some noise in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) this season. The game against Georgetown was the first of seven in a row away from Burr Gymnasium for the Bison, who were picked to finish fifth in the MEAC but could do better than that.
Hawkins had 11 points and five assists while fellow DeMatha product and starter Steve Settle III, in a rare off night, had nine points on just one-of-eight shots from the field.
“We knew he could be a guy that could run our program,” Howard coach Kenny Blakeney said of Hawkins after the game. “Him being a freshman, there are going to be growing pains. You can never question how hard he plays or his toughness. He is going to have to read the room a little bit better [looking at opposing defenses]. That just comes with reps. He is a terrific player.”
Howard’s Kyle Foster, from Bethel High in the Tidewater region of Virginia, had a career-high 26 points for the Bison while Tai Bibbs had 16 points for Howard.
Foster entered Wednesday leading the nation in 3-point shooting percentage at 58.
“You see a guy who is a fifth-year guy, he stepped up and accepted the challenge,” Blakeney said of Foster. “He did that on both ends; Kyle was our leading rebounder as well. He competed on both sides of the court. He did a phenomenal job for us.”
A redshirt sophomore forward, Settle III entered the game scoring 13.0 points per game for the Bison. A lanky 6-foot-10 player from Glenarden, Maryland, Settle was named to the MEAC Preseason team and entered this week leading the MEAC in shooting percentage at 60.
There were sloppy moments for both teams, as Georgetown committed 23 turnovers while Howard had 21. The Georgetown bench outscored the Howard reserves 29-3 and had an edge of 44-20 on points in the paint to overcome the absence of several key players.
Tyler Beard had 23 points off the bench for Georgetown, while Collin Holloway had 15 points, Donald Carey had 14, Malcolm Wilson had 13 and Dante Harris had 10.
Georgetown starters included Aminu Mohammed (Temple Hills, Maryland); Harris (Washington, D.C.) and Carey (Upper Marlboro, Frederick Douglass), a transfer from Siena. Harris was born in Anacostia and played prep ball in Tennessee, according to the Georgetown athletic website.
“That was a great win,” said Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing. “Malcolm did a great job; Dante grinded it out; everybody did something positive. We have to still stop turning the ball over, though. We went small and Malcolm did a great job. It was just a great effort by everyone.”
“I thought Georgetown did everything they had to do to win the game. Coach Ewing had those guys ready to play,” said Blakeney, the former DeMatha and Duke standout.
Beard, who had just 14 points on the season before the contest, and Wilson have both taking advantage of expanded roles. Beard played at Hargrave Academy in rural Chatham, Virginia.
“It is just being ready when your time is called,” Beard said, “whether you play three minutes, 10 minutes or 20. I felt like I showed that tonight.”
“You have to be ready and stay focused,” Wilson said.
Howard led by nine midway through the first half. The biggest lead for the Hoyas in the second half was 18.
“We did a much better job in the second half of handling their press,” Ewing said. “They are an athletic, older team. We were able to create offense, get some steals. Everybody did something positive.”
Howard, now 5-5, hadn’t played since beating American on Dec. 4. The Bison play North Carolina A & T State on Saturday and begin conference play Jan. 8 against Delaware State. The preseason favorite in the MEAC is Norfolk State.
Georgetown (6-4) hosts TCU on Saturday at 2 p.m. and begins conference play Dec. 22 at Providence.
Notes: Howard sophomore guard Thomas Weaver (Riverdale Baptist) is the son of Troy Weaver, the general manager of the Detroit Pistons. The elder Weaver played at Archbishop Carroll. The younger Weaver played 8:35 off the bench against Georgetown and didn’t score but had two assists … Casual Hoya reported that Georgetown freshman Jordan Riley is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury; Jalin Billingsley and Kaiden Rice of Georgetown missed the game with non-covid illnesses. Rice is averaging 14.6 points per game.
Editor's note: David Driver is a long-time writer in the DMV and can be reached at @DaytonVaDriver and www.daytondavid.com
Howard University wing Steve Settle III. [Photo Credit: Howard University]