Handling the ball, sinking the free throws and grabbing the rebounds when it counted, Georgetown's Eric Floyd showed last night that there is more to the all-America candidate's game than a long-range shooting touch.
Floyd rebounded missed foul shots by teammates Eric Smith and Fred Brown in the last two minutes to lead the Hoyas over Big East opponent Seton Hall last night in McDonough Arena, 58-56.
The Hoyas opened a 58-52 lead on Mike Frazier's pair of free throws with 1:11 remaining, but had trouble inbounding the ball on three occasions toward the end and settled for the two-point victory after the Pirates made two free throws and a layup in the last 20 seconds.
Seton Hall (8-13, 2-8 in the Big East) now has lost five conference games this season by a total of 12 points, two of them to Georgetown (16-9, 6-4) by three points.
On a night Georgetown started a four-guard alignment (including Gene Smith) with regular forward Mike Hancock sidelined by a shoulder injury, Floyd made only five of 13 shots from the field, totaling 14 points, but converted two free throws with 1:33 remaining to provide a 56-50 lead. The 6-foot-3 guard claimed a team-high seven rebounds, the last two possibly meaning the difference between victory and defeat.
With 1:50 remaining and the Hoyas up by 53-50, Fred Brown missed the second of two free hrows. But Floyd leaped over three taller Pirates, including 6-8 forward Sir John Collins, to snare the bouncing ball and retain possession for GU.
With 1:35 to play, Eric Smith increased the lead to 54-50 with a free throw, but his second one deflected off the rim to the right side. Floyd was there for the rebound, then hit his two foul shots after being backed by desperate Pirates.
"We were fortunate to have won," said Hoya Coach John Thompson. "The turning point was Floyd's rebounds. It reflects his competitiveness. As soon as he realizes he's not having a bad night just because he's not shooting well, he'll be the better for it."
With Floyd off-target much of the night, Eric Smith took over the scoring load, making eight of 13 shots and three free throws for a game-high 19 points. lHis eight-foot bank shot from the left side, off glass with incredible spin, and extra point after being fouled on the play midway in the second half, put Georgetown in a 43-43 tie after Seton Hall had run off seven straight points.
Floyd's 22-foot jumper gave Georgetown the lead for good, 47-45, a few minutes later.
"Floyd's just a great player," Seton Hall Coach Bill Raftery said admiringly. "Great players do those things (clutch rebounds and free throws). aAnother player pulls down those two rebounds and he throws some shot back up that may bounce out. But Floyd yo-yos the ball out and runs down the clock.
"The most important rebounds were his."
Georgetown went to the four-guard starting alignment while Hancock who had started 19 of 24 games and was the team's third-leading scorer, sat on the bench in street clothes with a bruised left shoulder that has been bothering him for some time.
Thompson said the development of the injury is a mystery to everyone, and that Hancock's progress is a day-to-day matter. "I'm worried," the coach said, "because Michael has an extremely high tolerance for pain. So when he complains, you have reason to worry."
With Hancock out and defensive ace Gene Smith given his first start, center Ed Spriggs was the only Hoya starter taller than 6-5.
But 7-foot relief center Frazier came in and scored three quick baskets off offensive rebounds, then Spriggs did the same when he returned to the lineup.
Pirates Matt Piccinich, Dan Callandrillo and Collins scored in double figures as Seton Hall shot 55 percent. But Georgetown, which shot 43 percent, grabbed three more rebounds and committed five fewer turnovers, enabling the Hoyas to take 11 more shots from the field.