The Georgetown Hoyas women’s basketball team (2-15, 2-14 Big East) fell to the Creighton Bluejays (8-10, 6-7 Big East) in the opening round of the Big East Tournament by the score of 56-42. The Hoyas kept it close for 35 minutes once again, but faltered in the final 5. They uncharacteristically lost the battle on the boards and could not stop Creighton’s drive and kick game, leading to their demise. For the Bluejays, senior guard Temi Carda showed out with a season-high 26 points, while sophomore forward Carly Bachelor added 13 points and 7 rebounds. For the Hoyas, junior center Shanniah Wright had 11 points, while junior forward Jillian Archer had 10 points and 6 rebounds.
“We did a better job of getting to the free throw line. We attacked a little bit more off the dribble and off the cut,” said Creighton head coach Jim Flanery. “That was the difference, that and Temi. Temi was outstanding.”
The Hoyas were active and engaged on the defensive end early, forcing two Creighton turnovers to begin the game and using their active hands to disrupt the Bluejay offense. However, they started the game with seven consecutive misses offensively, as they took too many outside shots and could not feed sophomore forward Graceann Bennett or Archer in the post. This enabled Creighton to start with a three on an extended possession and a floater from Carda made it 5-0. The Hoyas leaned on their best players to get their offense going, with a few midrange shots from freshman guard Kelsey Ransom and graduate guard Milan Bolden-Morris, as well as Archer operating down low. Wright gave the Hoyas a boost off the bench, making an uncharacteristically early appearance in the first quarter and connecting on an even more unlikely three to give the Hoyas an 11-10 lead after one. Creighton did not value the basketball with 4 turnovers and appeared disturbed by the Hoyas’ length.
“We’ve crowded them all three games, for two reasons. One, to give congestion in the post areas for post ups, but also to gap on the dribble,” said Flanery. “We weren’t perfect, but I thought we did a good job of clogging the driving lanes by being in that gap or help position, and it effectively takes away some of their post ups too.”
Both teams struggled to open the second quarter, exchanging turnovers and stagnant halfcourt play. The Bluejays tried to attack the basket more with Carda driving and finding cutters to get to the line. As a result, the Hoyas found themselves in foul trouble, despite their otherwise stellar defense forcing turnovers at a high rate. Towards the end of the quarter, though, Creighton improved their shot selection, going on an 11-2 run keyed by layups in close and a three from freshman forward Morgan Maly on a set play out of bounds. This carried them to their halftime advantage at 23-17, as the Hoyas could not see their long jumpers fall. Though the Hoyas played a much cleaner first half with just 4 turnovers compared to Creighton’s 8, they lost the rebounding battle 20-15 as Creighton loaded the interior to compete on the boards.
“I knew coming in from the last game that Creighton was going to set the 4 and the 5 players in the paint and take away the penetrations from Kelsey Ransom,” said Georgetown head coach James Howard. “When you look at the percentages of shooting from the outside, our post players haven’t shot the ball very well, so it was a very good strategic plan.”
Creighton’s superior talent started to show in the second half, as they continued their drive and kick game to open up jump shooting opportunities and extend their lead. They took advantage of their superior ballhandling, using the extra defensive attention on Carda to get jumpers for Bachelor and their other players. They also continued to load the paint, preventing the Hoyas from getting those crucial second-chance points that they rely on so much and denying Bennett the ball in the post. Ransom took it upon herself to initiate the offense, giving Creighton a taste of their own medicine with her drive and kick game getting a three-point play for herself and finding freshman guard Jazmyn Harmon in the corner for three. She also drew attention from defenders, allowing Archer and Wright to get cleanup buckets that were part of an 11-0 run to get the Hoyas back in the game. After trailing by as much as 12 in the quarter, the Hoyas ended down just 2, 37-35.
“They did a good job turning that game around in the third quarter, because we pushed it out to 12, and boom, it’s back to 4 right away,” said Flanery. “We gave up a couple offensive rebound baskets in that stretch where they got back in the game, and I thought we tightened that up down the stretch.”
The Bluejays continued to lean on Carda’s driving and excellent free throw shooting to make the Hoyas pay for their foul trouble. Wright continued to display her skill with a couple jumpers that kept the Hoyas close. She also took a critical charge on the defensive end with the Hoyas trailing 43-39, using her strength to her advantage. The Hoyas came tantalizingly close as they are wont to do, but they could not fully close the gap when it came down to winning time. Ransom had a particularly difficult closing sequence, trying to force shots as the lead guard that resulted in turnovers. This was juxtaposed with Carda’s open three and Bachelor’s backdoor cut, which were efficient shots that ended up being the daggers for the game. Creighton made their free throws to salt away the game, winning by the final of 56-42.
“Vets make plays,” said Howard of Carda’s performance. “She broke us down off the dribble, we didn’t get the rotation we were looking for when we got beat, and she’s very crafty. Once she picks it up, she’s still not dead. She’s gonna use her pivot, she’s gonna get you that little shot behind, she reads defenses very well.”
Though the Hoyas made better decisions with the basketball, committing just 10 turnovers on the day, they had no answers for Carda driving to the basket and getting her other teammates involved. Creighton made just 13 field goals in the game, but they marched to the free throw line and converted 23 of 26, compared to just 5 of 8 for Georgetown. The Hoyas also got whipped on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 42-31, and they were not able to generate second-chance opportunities thanks to Creighton intentionally clogging the lane and conceding open jumpers on the outside.
“You’ve got to take a little bit of a chance that they’re not going to make threes because that’s not what they do,” said Flanery.
The Hoyas concluded a difficult season with their first round loss to Creighton, but they have some pieces to build for the future. Wins were difficult to come by for this team, but they were dealt an impossibly difficult hand with only three returners in an abnormal season clouded by a global pandemic. Coach Howard said in his concluding remarks that he was proud of his players’ effort all season. For continued coverage of women’s basketball and all Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter.