Women’s basketball fights valiantly in loss to Seton Hall

February 8, 2021

Photo by Rafael Suanes/GUHoyas

The Georgetown Hoyas women’s basketball team (1-9, 1-9 Big East) fell to the Seton Hall Pirates (9-3, 7-2 Big East) on Monday afternoon at McDonough Arena by a score of 60-52. The Hoyas fought valiantly but they were done in when the Pirates’ senior leaders came alive in the fourth quarter, utilizing a zone defense to stymie the interior while pressing to generate turnovers. Graduate guard Andra Espinoza-Hunter led all scorers with 18 points, while senior guard Desiree Elmore added 15 points and 4 steals for the Pirates. For the Hoyas, sophomore forward Graceann Bennett had a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, freshman guard Kelsey Ransom had 13 points and 4 blocks, and sophomore forward Jillian Archer pulled down 18 rebounds. 

The game began rather miraculously with the Hoyas winning the tip and graduate guard Milan Bolden-Morris throwing up a wild prayer at the end of the shot clock that ultimately went in. Their next four offensive possessions were less kind, with four consecutive turnovers that allowed Seton Hall to get out in transition, leading to a couple buckets from Espinoza-Hunter. Both teams went ice-cold from the field for the quarter in an incredibly fast-paced game. Georgetown struggled to generate quality looks while Seton Hall had trouble knocking down shots. On the defensive end, the Hoyas were extremely active, getting their hands in the passing lanes and contesting shots. Offensively, they committed 8 turnovers in the first quarter alone, and could not get anything to go. Only Seton Hall’s poor shooting (3 for 18 in the quarter) kept the Hoyas in the game, and the first quarter ended with a grisly score of 8-7.

Senior guard Jasmine Smith picked up the Pirates in the second quarter, who looked every bit like a team coming off a prolonged COVID pause. She attacked the basket and got a couple quick twos to start the quarter, but Georgetown responded with a similar adjustment, going to junior center Shanniah Wright on the inside who started the quarter 3 of 4 in an effort to tie the game at 15. Recognizing that they could not make jump shots, both teams made the adjustment to try to score inside and get to the free throw line. The Hoyas faced early foul trouble, which led to Wright getting the opportunity for solid minutes early. Bennett supplemented Wright by picking up several offensive rebounds and taking advantage of them with second-chance points, eventually giving the Hoyas a 25-22 lead at the break. After the game, Georgetown head coach James Howard praised Wright’s efforts, stating that she had fought back from a difficult ankle injury in high school and mentioning that her sealing technique and ability to get offensive rebounds is extremely useful on the offensive end.

Seton Hall started the second half with a 2-3 zone to try and stop the Hoyas inside, but they conceded several offensive rebounds that gave Georgetown several second chance opportunities. The Hoyas had some troubles taking advantage of them, with three quick turnovers in the first three minutes of the third quarter. The pace of the game picked up from that point on, as Seton Hall began to hit their jump shots courtesy of Espinoza-Hunter and sophomore guard Lauren Park-Lane, while the Hoyas countered with Bolden-Morris and Bennett. Defensively, the Hoyas remained active, as Ransom collected her third block of the game in the third quarter. The Hoyas’ dominance inside led to several more second-chance opportunities, and they actually converted a pair of threes. They nonetheless still struggled from the field and could not pull away, carrying just a 36-34 lead into the fourth quarter.

Seton Hall opened the quarter on a 9-3 run keyed by their senior leaders Espinoza-Hunter and Elmore waking up just in time. Defensively, the Pirates just stopped defending the open jump shot and committed their efforts to stop Bennett and Archer inside. The strategy appeared to be effective in winning time, as the Hoyas missed their high-quality looks, starting the fourth quarter 1 of 6 from the field. The Hoyas were able to keep it close for most of the contest, but Seton Hall turned up their pressure near the end to force some turnovers and generate held-ball situations. The Pirates also knocked down their threes when they counted most, pulling away from the Hoyas in the last four minutes of the game. Pirates’ seniors Espinoza-Hunter, Elmore, and Smith combined for 24 of the team’s 26 points in the final period, putting away the Hoyas for good by the score of 60-52. Howard said that the team was not able to execute their defensive gameplan in the final quarter, which led to a more explosive Seton Hall attack that scored from all levels.

The Hoyas dominated the paint, pulling down 21 offensive rebounds compared to the Pirates’ 11 and converting those into a 21-5 advantage on second-chance points. However, the Pirates dominated the turnover battle, 21-6, and scored 16 points off those turnovers compared to 8 for the Hoyas. Ultimately, their senior leaders played with more poise down the stretch, and the Hoyas will have to take this as a learning opportunity as they try to build up more experience. Howard emphasized that his young team can learn many lessons from the Seton Hall seniors, praising their energy at the end of the game and looking for a leader to step up in a similar situation.

The Hoyas continue their homestand by welcoming No. 2 Connecticut (13-1, 11-0 Big East) to McDonough Arena on February 12. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network. For continued coverage of women’s basketball and all Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.

Nathan Chen
is the Sports Executive. He was born and bred in the DC Sports Bog and is ready to die in it.

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