The Georgetown women’s basketball team fell to Marquette 55-48 on Wednesday afternoon at McDonough Arena. The decision extends the Hoyas losing streak to seven, but represents a vast improvement over the team’s performance thirteen days ago, when they were walloped 72-40 in Milwaukee and trailed 38-13 at halftime. Key to the quick improvement were the forward duo of sophomore Graceann Bennett and Jillian Archer, who combined for 21 points on 10-12 shooting and put up another 15 combined rebounds. The Golden Eagles played like a veteran group throughout, schooling the Hoyas on the glass and limiting their turnovers. Sophomore guard Jordan King starred with 17 points. Ultimately, despite a strong rally in the fourth quarter, Georgetown was an arm’s length away from the visitors throughout the second half.
The Hoyas (1-7, 1-7 Big East) started the game on the front foot, with Archer, Bennett, and graduate student guard Milan Bolden-Morris entering the scoring column early. Marquette (12-2, 9-1 Big East) began 1-9 from the field and may have been running with heavy legs returning to action so soon after playing Creighton on Monday. Two three-pointers in the waning moments of the first from sophomore guard Clare Kaifes and freshman forward Liza Karlen made all the difference, though, as Marquette took a 12-10 lead to the bench.
The Hoyas would regain the lead thanks to an 8-2 run featuring two jumpers from Bolden-Morris, but good teams like Marquette don’t stay cold long. Redshirt senior forward Lauren Van Kleunen converted back-to-back buckets to continue the seesaw as they entered halftime with a 24-20 lead. Meanwhile, the Blue & Gray offense went missing, suffering from eleven first-half turnovers.
“(Cold spells) have been our Achilles’ heel all season,” Georgetown head coach James Howard said. “You got to stay the course. I need the posts to really post and give a target, and I need the guards to find them and make the right read.”
Regardless, the first half was completely night-and-day for the Hoyas compared to their first meeting against head coach Megan Duffy’s team, when they trailed 36-13 at the break. Though part of that has to be attributed to Marquette going 9-31 from the field in the first half, the Hoyas played with tremendous discipline on defense, only ceding one offensive rebound while forcing nine turnovers.
The Golden Eagles came out of the break a house of fire, with King opening the half with a personal 5-0 run before Kaifes drilled another three. If there was a glaring thing missing from the Hoya attack Wednesday, it was a perimeter threat – they went 1-for-10 from deep. Marquette would open up leads of fourteen and thirteen points at different marks of the third quarter, but GU showed toughness to keep them within shouting distance. Howard saw the freshman backcourt of Yasmin Ott and Kelsey Ransom really buckle up.
“They have that big heart, they have that aggressiveness,” Howard said. “I want to work with (Kelsey) and Yasmin to help them make bigger decisions. They have bright futures.”
The beginning of the fourth quarter marked what was undoubtedly one of the best stretches of the season for Georgetown. Howard has consistently preached wanting to play inside-out, and the final period was his vision realized, with Ott and Ransom creating for Bennett and Archer down low.
It all began on the final possession of the third quarter, when Ott whipped a half-court pass on a rope to Bennett for an easy lay-in to cut the Marquette lead to ten. After trading baskets to begin the fourth, GU ripped off a 6-0 run just when the game seemed out of reach to pull within six with 4:38 remaining. Bennett showcased her array of post moves and Ott finally got on the scoresheet with a smooth jumper and assertive lay-in. An inability to manufacture scoring down the stretch saw the Golden Eagles take home a seven-point win, but Howard knows the offense will come as his roster gains experience. Today was a step in the right direction for the defense.
“The first game against Marquette, we gave up 72 with forty-some in transition and off turnovers. We don’t have any really legit scorers like Dionna White or Dorothy Adomako on this team. We’ll need to hold teams to around fifty in order to have a chance.”
The Blue & Gray return to action on Saturday at 6 PM ET against Providence (5-8, 3-5 Big East). The game will be hosted at McDonough Arena, with television coverage on Fox Sports 2 and live stats at guhoyas.com. Follow @GUVoiceSports for live coverage and coverage of all winter sports on the Hilltop.