Women’s basketball claws past Villanova for fourth straight win

January 29, 2017

Photo: Alex Lewontin/The Georgetown Voice

The Georgetown women’s basketball team (13-7, 5-5 Big East) won a low-scoring thriller, 54-49, against the Villanova Wildcats (11-10, 6-4 Big East) on Saturday afternoon. After a 1-5 start to conference play, the Hoyas have now won four in a row to claw their way back to .500 in Big East, snapping the Wildcats’ five game winning streak in the process.

Sophomore guard Dionna White led the way for Georgetown with 21 points and three steals and senior forward Faith Woodard added 12 points of her own along with five blocks. Although she only had two points, junior guard DiDi Burton played a vital role defensively for a Georgetown team that had previously lost to the Wildcats by 21 points. Villanova junior guard Alex Louin led the Wildcats with 11 points.

Georgetown struggled early, falling behind 12-5 before the first quarter timeout. A hot start from  junior center Megan Quinn helped the Wildcats jump out to their early lead, but Quinn would be held scoreless for the rest of the game. After the timeout, the Hoyas began to work their way back into the game behind an early seven points from White to end the quarter. Georgetown’s defense also began to grow into the game as well, forcing two shot clock violations against the Wildcats and surrendering no offensive rebounds in the opening frame. The opening surge from Villanova, however, gave the Wildcats a 15-10 lead after ten minutes of basketball.

The Wildcats began the second quarter much like the first, with quick ball movement and runs around screens opening up a 21-12 advantage before Georgetown Head Coach Natasha Adair called timeout. A three-pointer from junior guard Mykia Jones calmed the Hoyas, and from there, they raised their defensive play. The team forced three steals and continued to dominate the glass against Villanova. Woodard added three blocks in the quarter, including two to end the half, to deny Villanova’s sophomore guard Adrianna Hahn the chance to take a lead into the locker room. An 8-1 Georgetown run at the end of the half took the teams into the locker room tied at 26.

Hahn, who tormented the Hoyas earlier this month, finished the half with only three points, and a Villanova team that shot 47.7% from the field and 100% from the line in that game finished the first half shooting 26.7% from the field and 50% from the charity stripe.

Georgetown only continued to stifle the Wildcats’ potent offense in the third quarter, forcing Villanova to earn six of its ten points in the quarter from the foul line. Most of these fouls, however, came from Georgetown’s desire to be aggressive on defense, recording another two steals and forcing a wayward pass through its pressure on the ball.

On the other end, the effort Georgetown has exhibited all season found its way to the stat sheet through eight offensive rebounds in the third quarter, including three at the end of the period, keeping the ball in Georgetown’s hands for the final 1:20 of the third.

A boisterous home crowd carried the Hoyas through the fourth quarter. Contentious foul calls and no calls led to emotions running high, and a Villanova team that improved its shooting from the field could not calm down for its foul shots, going 0-4 from the line. Georgetown, meanwhile, scored eight of its nine points from the free throw line to keep the Wildcats at arms’ length for most of the fourth.

“We just feed off of their energy,” said Woodard of the crowd. “When they have energy, when our bench has energy, we can’t lose like that.”

Photo: Alex Lewontin/The Georgetown Voice

Just when Villanova looked to finally build momentum and take a one point lead, Dionna White calmly made two free throws, sliced through three Villanova defenders for a layup on the next possession, and followed that with another pair of free throws to go on a solo 6-0 run, putting the Hoyas up 52-47. A falling layup from Adomako with 18 seconds left put the game out of reach. Villanova’s last gasp effort fell short after a final block from Woodard, sending the crowd in McDonough into a frenzy.

Adding to the crowd’s noise was a visibly animated bench, and although only seven Hoyas made it onto the court, every win under Coach Adair is a product of all fourteen members of the team.

“We talk about sharing energy and sharing enthusiasm, and right after the game I thanked our bench because that’s a vital role,” Adair said. “We tell them we need them, that that fuels that players that are on the floor.”

Georgetown dominated the paint despite being smaller than Villanova, outscoring the Wildcats 26-16 in the pain and hauling in 46 rebounds to Villanova’s 35.

“We opened up the floor, so there wasn’t help defense, there wasn’t a lot of trees down there to clog up the paint, but it was a conscious effort to get all the way to the rim today,” said Adair.

Dionna White’s 21 point outing followed a career-high 29 against Butler last Sunday.Georgetown’s focus to get to the rim allowed her to explode once again.

“We adjusted some of our plays to create those openings for her, and we just told her, ‘Take what they give you, and go all the way,’” said Adair. “She did that beautifully today.”

On the other end of the floor, Hahn finished the game with six points after a defensive adjustment from Georgetown limited her chances to influence the game.

“We kept our point guards on her. They didn’t switch off, they had one-on-one responsibilities,” Adair said. “Out heartbeat, as I refer to DiDi Burton, she wanted that challenge; she wanted that responsibility, and she did a great job.”

Georgetown will look to extend its win streak to five games as it faces Providence (10-11, 2-8 Big East) on Friday at noon in McDonough Arena. The Hoyas triumphed 71-39 in Rhode Island earlier this season.

Jorge DeNeve
Los Angeles native. Still wondering where the Galaxy went wrong and decided buying Jermaine Jones was a good idea.

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