Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Well-Traveled Seniors Prep for Last Home Game

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Senior guard Karee Houlette

Georgetown’s senior class has not been around for long, but they certainly have made their mark.

In fact, the Hoya senior class – comprised of three transfers – has combined to play only six seasons for the Hoyas; their unlikely journey to the Hilltop and their contributions during their short time together have helped turn around a once-stagnant program and set up the biggest Senior Day game of Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy’s tenure.

At Hazelwood East High School in St. Louis, Mo., Krystle Hatton starred not only on the basketball court but also on the track as a hurdler and sprinter and on the volleyball court as a middle blocker. The three-time letter winner received numerous out-of-state scholarship offers, but family responsibilities led her to stay close to home.

Hatton signed with Saint Louis University, only a half hour south of where she played high school ball. Along with Head Coach Jill Pizzotti, Assistant Coach Ty Evans played an important role in recruiting Hatton to play for the Billikens. The forward became a key contributor under their guidance, improving from 1.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game as a freshman to 4.6 ppg and 5.5 rpg as a sophomore. A disappointing 4-23 season, however, led to Pizzotti’s replacement, with Arizona assistant Shimmy Gray taking over the program in May 2005.

Hatton did not get along as well with her new coach as her previous one, and prior to the season opener, Hatton was dismissed from the team for violating team rules. She would soon follow Evans – the man who had originally brought her to Saint Louis – to Georgetown, where she was to sit out the 2006-2007 season per NCAA transfer regulations.

eanwhile, Beata Widding was bouncing around the heartland of Texas, entering her second junior college in as many years. The former Swedish All-Star had played one season at Midland Junior College, where she earned best defensive player honors, before moving to Panola Junior College in Carthage, Texas, for the 2006-2007 season. There she would cultivate a bond to one teammate in particular, a fellow sharpshooting guard also entering her sophomore season.

Karee Houlette had been one of Panola’s best players as a freshman, when she averaged 11.7 points per game and 3.0 assists per contest, attracting the interest of many college scouts. At the outset of her sophomore season, Houlette welcomed Panola’s Swedish newcomer, and the two quickly grew close. Their styles of play complemented each other on the court, and they developed a strong sense of friendship off it.

As the season continued and the scholarship offers began to come in, Houlette and Widding often talked about the possibility of playing together after Panola.

“She came my second year, and we like just played really well together on the court,” Houlette says. “We’d always joke about how awesome it would be if we could go to the same school.”

It would soon become a reality. Williams-Flournoy watched Panola play and was impressed with what she saw from both Houlette and Widding. Both were double-digit scorers their sophomore season, and among their scholarship offers, each counted one from the Hoyas. The two decided to stay together, and the tandem arrived in D.C. the next season.

“[Going to the same college] was kind of loose, and we didn’t really know like who was gonna recruit who,” Widding explains. “But a lot of schools ended up recruiting both of us – like, the same schools. And then, Georgetown was the best offer we got, so here we are.”

Hatton and Houlette played reserve roles in their first season with the Hoyas, but each has taken a huge leap forward in their senior season.

Hatton averaged 2.8 points and 2.4 boards coming off the bench as a junior. To start off her senior year, she led the team with 12 points and eight rebounds in opener, and she has been a key contributor since. Her 4.5 rebounds per game are third on the team, and she has also upped her scoring to 4.0 ppg, earning her 19 starts in 26 contests thus far. Beyond the numbers, the senior forward’s size and strength have provided the Hoyas with toughness in the paint.

Houlette has also improved upon her junior numbers during her senior campaign. The team’s best three-point shooter last year with a percentage of 42.9, she saw only 10 minutes of action per contest, putting up 3.7 points per game. This season, Houlette has started every conference game she’s played in – she missed two games with a minor ankle injury – and leads the team in scoring at 10.5 ppg. In conference play, Houlette has averaged 13.8 points, and her 41.1 three-point percentage on the season is tops in the Big East.

Widding, whose scoring, assists, and shooting percentages all surpassed Houlette’s at Panola, has spent most of her Georgetown career in the training room. Surgery on her right foot limited Widding to only 16 minutes in two appearances last season, and the injury problems have continued to plague Widding this season, during which she has made it on the court for only 32 minutes in nine games. She continues to wear a boot on her right foot, and will not be able to play on Saturday for Senior Day.

“[It’s been] really hard and sad, because my experience here hasn’t been what I wanted it to be, because I haven’t been able to play,” Widding says of the medical difficulties that have derailed what was once a promising Georgetown career.

Instead, Widding has been forced to find other ways to contribute to the program. With seven freshmen on the roster, Widding has not only shared her basketball knowledge but also taken on a bigger leadership role off the court, helping out the younger players with knowing “where to be and what to wear, and what time, stuff like that.”

Hired in August 2004, Williams-Flournoy brought in no new players during her first year. Hatton, Houlette, and Widding thus form the first graduating class recruited by Williams-Flournoy, and they take a special pride in the role they have played in helping turn around the program.

“I’m just glad to be a part of a program that is rebuilding, so that we can say that we were . the first steps to rebuilding Georgetown women’s basketball and how we have come like such a long way,” Hatton says. “We had a winning season last season, and this year we’ve done even better, especially in the Big East.”

Saturday’s home finale at McDonough Gymnasium gives the Hoyas’ three seniors another opportunity to build upon that legacy. Win tomorrow against Villanova (17-11, 9-5 Big East) and Monday at Seton Hall (15-12, 3-11), and Georgetown (17-10, 7-7) would have its first winning record in Big East play since the 1999-2000 season.

Perhaps the best indication of the program’s turnaround is that the team’s focus is placed less on the significance of an individual win than the postseason implications.

“Not only would it mean a lot to win on your Senior Day, your last home game, but it’s important for us in general,” Houlette notes. “Not just for us to win, but for our ranking for the Big East and where we’re gonna be seeded in the [Big East] tournament.”

Riding the high of a four-game winning streak, the Hoyas have their sights on finishing strong and a quality showing in the Big East tournament. With a few more wins, Georgetown’s three seniors could leave an even greater legacy: the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1993.

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