Gritty defense, veteran poise lead Hoyas past DePaul

February 6, 2024

Photo by Daniel Rankin

On Sunday, February 4, the Georgetown Hoyas (15-7, 5-6 BIG EAST) took down the DePaul Blue Demons (11-13, 3-8 BIG EAST) in a close, low-scoring contest, 44-42. The Hoyas were led by the veteran duo of graduate forwards Graceann Bennett and Mya Bembry, who both put up 12-point double-doubles.

Though shots weren’t really falling for Georgetown, the Hoyas’ defense and steady post presence made it difficult for DePaul to get anything going early either. With about 5 minutes left in the period, Bennett made a strong move to the basket, tying the game at 4-4. At the buzzer, sophomore guard Victoria Rivera missed an open three, ending the period 11-7 in favor of the Blue Demons.

The second quarter was much of the same, with the defense standing strong while the offense continued to struggle. Bembry had a nice play, swishing in a jumper from the elbow before getting a block on the other end, but eventually the lackluster offensive play forced head coach Darnell Haney to call a timeout. After the huddle, the Hoyas’ fortunes started to change. Junior forward Brianna Scott – who came off the bench and made several clutch plays in the game – hit a 3 to give Georgetown its first lead of the game at 14-13. Then, in the last few minutes of the half, Bennett started to put the team on her shoulders, locking down on defense while making a few layups. 

DePaul would pull ahead once more, but senior guard Kelsey Ransom, who had an uncharacteristically poor offensive performance, came through with a spectacular defensive play. She snatched the ball from a DePaul player – getting knocked down in the process – and sent a strong pass to Bennett, who paid it forward and tossed the rock to Bembry for a wide open layup. Though Georgetown didn’t retake the lead on that play, it was clear that the momentum had shifted, and the Hoyas went into the locker room with only a one-point deficit.

The lead changed a number of times in the third quarter, though DePaul had started to pull away by the end. Bennett continued her strong night, hitting a three while also excelling on the other end of the floor. Ransom, as per usual, was an excellent and pesky presence defensively. Then Bembry got in on the action with a monster block, one of her four in the contest. The offense continued to struggle, though, and a few lapses led to a 36-31 Blue Demons lead entering into the last 10 minutes.

With time ticking down, Bembry started off the fourth quarter with purpose. She opened with a layup, which went in thanks to a set of strong post moves on her part. Shortly thereafter, she hit a massive and-one layup; though she missed the free-throw, she had once again made it a one-point game at 36-35. After that, as the lead went back and forth and the quarter wound down, free throws became the name of the game. Bennett made two, and Ransom converted on an and-one. With 38.7 seconds left, Bennett made one of two to tie the game at 42 apiece. Between the two teams, there were only eight total points scored in the last 7 minutes of the game, encapsulating the style of play on display that afternoon.

Tied up at 42 and with time for one possession left, Haney made the call to take Bennett out of the game, putting Scott in her place as an offense-defense substitution. Scott got the ball and drove into the lane, drawing a foul with a mere 4 seconds left in the game. She sank them both, immediately becoming the hero of the day, and DePaul wasn’t able to score with the little time remaining. Georgetown escaped with a 44-42 win.

The game was far from pretty, but there was a lot to like from Georgetown. Their defense, so often their saving grace this season, was truly impressive at points. Though Ransom wasn’t able to put up many points, her intensity on the other side of the ball was a game-changer, and veterans like Scott, Bembry and Bennett made up for her lack of offensive output. As the season marches on, having that sort of balance could be a difference-maker.

Next up, the Hoyas travel to Wisconsin to square off against Marquette (17-5, 6-5 BIG EAST). Downing the Golden Eagles will be a tall task, and Georgetown’s offense will have to become more fluid if they want a chance at doing so. The game will be aired on FS1on Wednesday, February 7. For continued coverage and updates on Georgetown sports, follow @GUVoiceSports on X.

Jo Stephens
Jo is the Sports Editor and a senior in the College studying History and Journalism. Originally from Columbia, South Carolina, she has a particular love for women's basketball, but also enjoys watching football, softball, and volleyball.

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