When you're the Howard Bison, opportunities for large-scale success don't exactly come around all that often. That's why it has to be absolutely maddening that the Bison squandered the opportunity they had in their laps this afternoon at the Verizon Center against (really) big brother Georgetown.
You see, in the entire history of Howard basketball, the Bison have a grand total of six games over teams that currently reside above the Red Line. Go ahead, count them - a pair of wins over East Carolina, a pair of wins over Central Florida (before they joined Conference USA, so you could argue they don't even count), a win over Miami (FL), and a win over Oregon State.
It's not as if Howard has had much more success at their own level, though. Howard last won the MEAC in 1992, nearly 20 years ago. Since then, they've finished better than sixth in the MEAC once.
Considering the lack of success, you'd think that Howard would settle for just keeping it close against the 18th-best team in the nation, especially when said team had beaten you by an average of more than 28 points per game in your six previous meetings. Here's hoping head coach Kevin Nickelberry had one hell of a speech lined up.
But even that modest goal appeared to be in doubt when the game started. Despite being only two Metro stops away from the Verizon Center, the Bison came out like a team suffering from severe jet lag. Georgetown pitched a shutout up until the 10:39 mark of the first half, going up 17-0 before Howard had even realized what had happened. Things weren't much better by the end of the half, with the deficit still holding at 13.
After the break, however, the team that emerged couldn't have been the same team wearing Howard blue in the first half. Very quickly, Georgetown's lead had been trimmed to just two. The little Howard Bison, one of the least funded programs in all of Division I, with hardly any past success to their name, had made this a game again.
Everyone in the cavernous Verizon Center looked on in shock. Georgetown fans, in disbelief that their team had let it slip away. Howard fans, in disbelief that their team had flipped a switch so dramatically. The Bison started the game unable to do anything right. Now, they were trading punches with a ranked foe from the Big East. Could this really be happening?
The answer, as it unfortunately usually is, was no. Georgetown started to put distance back between themselves and Howard, and with just under three minutes to go, the lead had hit double-digits yet again. It would stay that way until the end of the game.
Today, this loss will sting as badly, if not worse, for the Howard Bison. Tomorrow, however, the realization should set in that they had no business being close to Georgetown today, much less after putting up a goose egg for the first nine minutes. History cannot be established overnight, and with any luck, this is just another of many steps in restoring respectability to a program that has long lacked it.
at GEORGETOWN 62, HOWARD 48 12/10/2011
HOWARD 3-6 (1-1) -- M. Phillips 4-10 6-6 14; D. Collins 4-12 1-1 11; P. Okoroh 2-5 2-4 6; S. Frazier 1-7 1-2 3; C. Thompson 2-6 0-2 6; O. Ellison 1-3 2-3 4; A. Leary 1-2 0-0 2; T. Boyomo 0-0 0-0 0; B. Bailey 0-0 0-0 0; A. Dickerson 0-1 2-4 2; C. Cuffee 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-46 14-22 48. GEORGETOWN 8-1 (0-0) -- H. Thompson 2-8 8-11 12; J. Clark 1-10 10-10 12; O. Porter 6-11 1-4 13; M. Starks 2-7 0-0 5; N. Lubick 1-3 2-5 4; H. Sims 2-5 3-4 7; G. Whittington 0-1 0-0 0; J. Trawick 2-3 2-4 6; M. Hopkins 0-0 3-4 3; A. Bowen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-49 29-42 62.
Three-point goals: HOW 4-11 (C. Thompson 2-2; D. Collins 2-7; S. Frazier 0-1; P. Okoroh 0-1), GU 1-13 (J. Clark 0-2; H. Thompson 0-4; M. Starks 1-3; G. Whittington 0-1; O. Porter 0-2; J. Trawick 0-1); Rebounds: HOW 33 (P. Okoroh 6), GU 33 (N. Lubick 8); Assists: HOW 8 (S. Frazier 4), GU 7 (N. Lubick 3); Total Fouls -- HOW 26, GU 20; Fouled Out: HOW-A. Leary; GU-None.