In its first game following a 1-2 performance at the Challenge in Music City, the Georgetown women’s basketball team (4-3, Big East) came out victorious against Florida International (2-5, Conference USA), on Wednesday. The Hoyas were able to recover from a lackluster first half performance with a 46-point second half to propel themselves to a 77-56 blowout win.
Junior guard Dionna White started the game hot, hitting two straight threes, and Georgetown pulled out to an 11-6 lead midway through the first quarter. However, after the media timeout, FIU went on a 6-0 run and took the lead by the end of the period.
Georgetown head coach James Howard noted the impact that the three-day tournament in Nashville this past weekend had on his team. “I could tell right away in the first half that those three back-to-back games had its toll on our legs,” he said. “We looked sluggish early on.”
A three pointer from senior guard Mikayla Venson less than a minute into the second quarter gave Georgetown the lead again. By the 3:35 mark of the quarter, the Hoyas had a six point advantage and looked poised to extend their run and take control of the game, but the Panthers again had other ideas. After a layup by freshman forward Callie Cavanaugh and back-to-back threes from freshman forward Shante Walker, FIU was in front 31-29. Georgetown senior center Yazmine Belk was able to convert on a layup with under 10 seconds remaining in the half to tie the game up going into the break.
At the half, Howard spoke to his players about finding the will to win despite their fatigue from a grueling weekend. “We talked about challenging [FIU]. My words to them were that deep down inside somewhere you have more,” he said. “When you think that you’re defeated, you’re not. Dig deeper because inside of you, you have got that second wind.”
Led by White and senior forward Cynthia Petke, the Hoyas began to make their move early in the second half. Georgetown gained a seven point advantage heading into the fourth as White scored 12 points in the third quarter alone while Petke scored 6 and grabbed 5 rebounds in the period as well.
Petke, who had 16 rebounds total in the game, spoke about the significance of controlling the boards. “We just have a lot of opportunities to have second chance points,” she said. “[Hitting the glass] has been our emphasis through the beginning of the year.”
In the fourth quarter, the Hoyas pulled away by demonstrating an offensive prowess that had been missing during their three game losing streak last week.
“During the losing streak, the ball wasn’t going in the hole. We missed a lot of good looks,” Howard said. “We defended well all three of those those losses, but our offense just wasn’t on, and tonight we got back to that type of offense that we like to play.”
Georgetown scored 26 points in the final period while shooting 64.3 percent from the field. The trio of Venson, Petke, and White combined for 24 of those 26 points in the fourth quarter and 60 points overall. By the end of final period, the Hoyas had a comfortable 21-point win.
The final scoreline does not tell the whole story, though, as Howard was forced to make several adjustments at halftime that contributed to the large disparity between the two halves.
“We put [sophomore guard] Morgan Smith in the lineup just get a bit more athleticism and get a little size in there and I think making that move paid off for us,” he said.
Georgetown held the Panthers to just 25 points in the second largely due to superior athleticism on the inside. Howard also decided to give his star scorer more ball handling duties starting in the third quarter to push the pace of the game.
“White started the pace right off by going to the point guard position and attacking before they got set,” he said.
White, who broke the 1000 career points mark on her last shot of the game, finished with a game-high 24 points, scoring three-quarters of those points in the second half. “White was able to get deep and once she gets deep she can see the floor she has got good court vision and she makes good decisions,” Howard said.
Despite yet another rocky start, Howard’s squad was eventually able to glide to victory in this game. “Tonight we were able to finish,” he said.
Up next for Georgetown is a matchup with Minnesota (7-1, Big 10) next Thursday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at McDonough Arena.