The Georgetown Hoyas women’s basketball team (1-13, 1-13 Big East) took another punishing loss, falling to the Villanova Wildcats (13-4, 8-4 Big East) in their final home game on Sunday afternoon at McDonough Arena by a score of 64-56. Though both teams had their inside game going, timely late jumpers from the Wildcats and unforced turnovers doomed the Hoyas in a game that was most characteristic of Georgetown’s season. Sophomore forward Maddy Siegrist was dominant for the Wildcats, with 31 points and 16 rebounds on a monster afternoon, while senior forward Brianna Herlihy and freshman forward Lior Garzon added 18 and 11 points respectively. For the Hoyas, sophomore forward Graceann Bennett had 13 points and 5 rebounds, while freshman guard Kelsey Ransom added 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Both teams started the game by going to their leaders, with Villanova going to Herlihy and Siegrist inside for early buckets, while the Hoyas answered with Ransom’s slashing game and graduate guard Milan Bolden-Morris from the midrange. Though the game started at the Wildcats’ preferred fast pace, the Hoyas used their length and strength to pull down offensive boards and generate second-chance points by going to work in the post. They also played excellent individual defense, which allowed them to hang around despite their poor shooting start. It was clear from the onset of the game that the Hoyas wanted to attack the paint, going into Bennett and sophomore forward Jillian Archer, who have shown tremendous growth this season and have been relied upon as the leaders of this team. Siegrist went to work inside for Villanova as well, ending the quarter with 8 points as both teams were deadlocked at 11 apiece.
“We didn’t do the things we talked about doing: not allowing Siegrist to settle in on the post up, being able to move our feet when she put the ball on the floor,” said Howard. “She’s a special player, that’s why she leads the Big East in scoring. They went to her, and she made the plays for them.”
Bennett was relegated to the bench due to early foul trouble, but the Hoyas were able to turn to junior center Shanniah Wright, who went to work in the post with 6 quick points in the second quarter. On the other side, Siegrist continued her tear inside, scoring all of her early field goals on efficient shots from within 3 feet of the basket. She took advantage of occasional mismatches against Bolden-Morris and Ransom, using her size and skill to her advantage in the post and on blow-bys. As usual, the play of Wright and Baur kept the Hoyas in it, but Garzon went on a 6-0 run by herself with consecutive open threes from the same spot on the left wing. Ott answered with a pair of pullup jumpers to pick up the Hoyas, but they fell back into their poor turnover habits and continued to struggle from the floor, leading to a halftime deficit of 28-23.
“Shanniah came in the game and was a big boost. She came in and scored down in those blocks for us,” said Howard. “She’s been a voice down there, she’s talking to them on the bench, she’s telling them what they need to do, so she’s really embraced her role, and that has helped us too.”
The Hoyas opened the third quarter going back to their bread and butter, with their bigs passing out of the high post and finding Bennett inside to go to work in the post, and she started the quarter on a personal 5-0 run to pull the Hoyas even. The Wildcats went back to their bread and butter too, going to Siegrist from close range, who showed her toughness on a strong and-one, and her skill on a floater. Villanova also tried to go to a press defense against the Hoyas, but it proved mostly ineffective, as the Hoyas beat it with clean passes and they backed off quickly. The halfcourt was a different story, though, as the Hoyas were plagued with offensive fouls and misses on their bunnies. They managed to stay in the fight though, trailing 43-40 by the end of the third quarter in a physical matchup.
Though they could never get it going from the outside, the Hoyas continued to attack to basket to start the fourth quarter, with Ransom slashing and drawing some important fouls on Villanova defenders. Georgetown was never fully out of the game, but they were never able to take a lead, fumbling away those critical possessions. The Wildcats went on a 14-4 run midway through the final stanza that sealed the Hoyas fate, as Siegrist hit a huge corner three and Herlihy cut past Wright for another layup inside. The Hoyas fought valiantly again, but they ultimately fell by the final score of 64-56.
“We were down 4 and we had a crucial turnover. It’s those things that keep haunting us,” said Howard. “After so many games, you gotta learn from that, you gotta start to take the next step. That’s what growth is, and we continued to make bad decisions.”
Once again, the Hoyas hung around for 35 minutes but sabotaged themselves with turnovers and defensive lapses in the final 5 on a senior day appropriately lacking in seniors. The Hoyas crashed glass as usual, with 14 offensive rebounds leading to 15 second-chance points, and their upperclassmen showed out in the paint, but their total lack of shooting was apparent as it has been all season. Their youth is ultimately their weakness, as they had countless opportunities to take the lead in the second half but flubbed them away with turnovers or misses. Nevertheless, they are still looking forward to competing and getting an elusive win.
“At the end of the day, it’s great being in games, but it’s even better when you win games. These kids are tired of all the moral victories,” said Howard. “If we can get a win going into the [Big East] Tournament, it will help them, because they believe they can win. I believe they can win.”
The Hoyas hit the road for the rest of their schedule, starting with a rematch on Wednesday afternoon at the St. John’s Red Storm (6-12, 3-10 Big East). Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted on the Big East Digital Network streaming on FloHoops. For continued coverage of women’s basketball and all Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.