The Avocado Effect: Hoyas Emphatically Snap 4-Game Skid with 85-58 Win Over Marquette

January 19, 2018

Who saw that one coming? Senior forward Cynthia Petke had 26 points and 13 rebounds, junior guard Dionna White added 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists, and first-year Georgetown head coach James Howard put together the signature win of his nascent career as the Georgetown women’s basketball team (8-10, 3-5 Big East) steamrolled the Marquette Golden Eagles (13-6, 7-1 Big East) 85-58 on Avocado Appreciation Night at McDonough Arena.

In a battle of teams headed in opposite directions, the blowout win was an upset special in every sense of the word. The Golden Eagles seemingly could not have caught the Hoyas at a better time, having won all seven of their Big East games while Georgetown had lost its last four contests.

The Golden Eagles came out of the gates looking the stronger team as well, paced by junior guard Amani Wilborn’s 10 first-quarter points, part of her team-high 20. However, freshman forward Tatiana Thompson’s jumper and sophomore guard Morgan Smith’s buzzer-beating three-pointer meant the Golden Eagles only led by a point, 22-21, heading into the second quarter.

The second quarter was as dominant as the Hoyas have looked this season against any opponent. Six different players scored while the Blue and Gray forced nine turnovers with a ferocious 2-3 zone on the defensive end. When the dust settled, Georgetown led 41-26 at the half, outscoring the Golden Eagles 20-4 in the second frame.

“Every game [the Hoyas have lost in Big East play] we’ve taken more shots from the field than our opponent. When I see that, that tells me we didn’t capitalize on the offensive side,” Howard said of the offensive explosion. “I was pleased to be able to go back to the team and say, ‘Hey, look, we’re taking more shots, we’ve got to focus on the makes in order to play Marquette.’”

The Hoyas never looked back from their stellar second quarter and continued to suffocate Marquette on defense while wearing them down with Petke and senior guard Mikayla Venson in the third quarter. By themselves, the two seniors outscored the visitors 18-11 in the third quarter, while Marquette’s stellar starting five, all of whom average double figures per game, continued to be held in check.

“We knew coming in they’re a high-caliber scoring team, they have a lot of weapons,” Howard said of the defensive strategy. “And when you have five players shooting the ball in double figures, we tried to figure out a gameplan, and we just came up with, ‘We’re going to zone ‘em up, we’re going to mix it up, show a little man, and just try to take them out of rhythm,’ and I thought we were able to do that tonight.”

When the third quarter horn sounded, the Blue and Gray led by an eye-popping 31 points, making the fourth quarter a mere formality, a luxury the Hoyas have scarcely come by this season. Petke found easy work making herself available around the basket with the Hoyas consistently breaking the Marquette full-court pressure as she contributed 18 of her 26 points after the halftime intermission.

“I had some tough games, and the coaches did a great job helping me out after those games,” Petke said. “I knew Marquette was going to try and take me out of my scoring range, but after the road trip we got back in the gym and worked on my game and I’m proud of the results today.”

The forward complemented her all-around performance by going 8-8 from the free-throw stripe and anchoring the bottom of the 2-3 zone on defense, adding six rebounds and a block on top of an already impressive stat line.

Georgetown’s marketing team, always found turning in stellar performances, hit it big again with Avocado Appreciation Night. The crowd of 877 came alive with the Hoyas in the dominant second and third quarters, with a notable student section in McDonough making it out at the conclusion of the second week of the second semester. Avocado toast eating contests and avocado spoon races were the features of the evening, with a full-body avocado costume making a memorable appearance and, perhaps, proving to be the unconventional spark the Hoyas needed to beat the streaking Golden Knights.

Georgetown will hope to build on their performance Sunday against the DePaul Demons (14-6, 6-2 Big East) at McDonough Arena at 2 p.m., while Marquette can next get back to winning ways when they visit the Villanova Wildcats (15-4, 5-3 Big East) Sunday morning. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for gameday updates and breaking news.

Will Shanahan
is a senior in the McDonough School of Business, and former Sports Executive and Editor of The Voice. He spends his days plotting visits to downstairs Leo's when the omelet line will be short and trying to recall memories of his middling high school football career.

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