The Georgetown women’s basketball team (18-15, 9-9 Big East) defeated Harvard (17-13, 9-5 Ivy) 70-65 on Sunday at Harvard University’s Lavietes Pavilion in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The Hoyas were led by a standout performance from senior guard Dionna White, who scored a career-high 38 points.
The Hoyas opened the game with a 6-0 run after baskets from White and freshman guard Nikola Kovacikova. Layups from Harvard senior guard Madeleine Raster and junior forward Jeannie Boehm cut down the Hoyas’ lead, but Kovacikova responded with a jump shot and two threes, giving the Hoyas a 14-8 lead with 2:21 left in the quarter. White added another layup and the Hoyas finished the first quarter 16-11. Kovacikova and White were the Hoyas’ only scorers in the first quarter, notching 10 points and 6 points, respectively.
Harvard opened the second quarter with a three-pointer from senior guard Sydney Skinner. White responded with an 8-1 run following two points each from junior guard Morgan Smith and graduate student guard Adomako, bringing the Hoyas up 28-17. Kovacikova missed a three with seconds left in the half and the Hoyas headed into halftime up 37-26.
White picked up her fourth foul with 5:06 left in the third quarter and headed to the bench, but a three-pointer from Katie Benzan followed by a layup from sophomore guard/forward Rachel Levy brought the Crimson to within four (46-42). White came back into the game, careful not to foul.
“[I was] still being aggressive, but not as aggressive so I won’t foul out, just making sure I’m able to stay in the game,” she said.
“Without Dionna, her speed, her ability to score, and her ability to defend, I don’t think we’d weather the storm,” Georgetown Head Coach James Howard said on his decision to put her back in. “You have that gut feeling as a coach, you gotta trust her, and you’re telling her to be as disciplined as you can on defense, and watch those steals and the reaches.”
Georgetown’s first seven points in the fourth quarter came from free throws from White, who was 15 of 16 from the line. But Georgetown struggled to find the basket, shooting just 20% from the field in the fourth, and Harvard claimed a 65-64 lead with 2:47 left in the game, forcing Georgetown to call a timeout. Both teams failed to score for the next minute until a layup from White brought the Hoyas back up 66-65 with 33 seconds to go. Senior guard Brianna Jones stole the ball from Harvard on their next possession and drew a foul, hitting two free throws with 16 seconds to go.
With Georgetown up 68-65, Harvard had a chance to tie it and took a timeout to draw up a play. Benzan attempted a three-pointer but was blocked by White, who was then fouled at the other end of the court. She hit both free throws to solidify Georgetown’s lead, and the game ended a 70-65 win for the Hoyas.
Besides her career-high 38 points, White also added 12 rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
“It means a lot. I’m just glad to get the win and keep playing,” White said. “We never know when a game is going to be our last game, so we just try to come out and play our hardest and make sure our last one is our best one.”
“That right there is the type of player that we’re going to miss,” Howard said of White. “She’s scored 2,000 points for a reason—she’s that piece, that glue.”
Kovacikova added 12 points and one rebound, and Adomako contributed eight points and 10 rebounds. Boehm led the Crimson with 17 points and eight rebounds, followed by Benzan with 13 points and five assists. Levy chipped in 10 points and six rebounds. Overall the Hoyas held the Crimson to shooting just 36.8% from the field compared to the Hoyas’ 39.3%.
“I thought it was overall a team effort defensively to get us the win,” Howard said.
For their next matchup, the Hoyas are heading to Providence (19-15, 8-10 Big East) on Tuesday night for WNIT Sweet Sixteen where they’ll take on Big East rival Providence College. Providence advances after defeating Penn (24-7, 12-2 Ivy) 64-54 on in Providence on Sunday night.
The Hoyas swept the Friars in conference play this season, defeating them 68-52 in Providence on Jan. 4 and 61-56 at home on Feb. 3. Despite this track record, Howard still anticipates the matchup to pose a challenge.
“I already told them in the locker room, it’s hard to beat a team three times. It’s not the same Providence team,” Howard said.
But a win would mean a lot for Howard, now in his second year as head coach.
“If we can say that we’re in the Elite Eight, I think we have made great strides in rebuilding our program to where we want it to be,” Howard said.
The Hoyas will be playing at Providence on Tuesday night for the third round of the WNIT. Tipoff is set for at 7:00 pm. Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for updates and news on all spring sports at Georgetown.
Image Credits: John Picker/The Georgetown Voice