Hoya fans let out a collective sigh of relief as the final buzzer sounded in McDonough Arena.
With just under six minutes remaining, the Providence College Friars (13-16, 4-14 Big East) mounted an admirable comeback, clawing their way back from a 20-point deficit to get within 2 points of the Georgetown Hoyas in the final seconds of the game. Despite the tight finish, the Georgetown women’s basketball team (13-15, 6-13 Big East) had an overall decisive 73-69 victory over the Friars on Feb. 21.
The Hoyas launched into the game with intense energy on the floor. Although the first three minutes of the game looked even, Georgetown began to take the upper hand quickly, as a two-point game at 6-4 steadily turned into a 13-0 Hoya run, putting them up 17-6 with just over three minutes left to play in the quarter.
Notably, junior forward Jada Claude came out blazing, knocking down a 3-pointer followed by a quick layup. Many of the plays in the run were also supported by the quiet but essential teamwork of first-year guard Kennedy Fauntleroy, who was behind almost every steal and assist made. Though it was the Hoyas who largely dominated the first quarter, the Friars did not go down easily; they inched back to close the quarter at 22-15.
The second quarter saw much of the same dynamics as the first, but Providence scored three consecutive 3-pointers from the onset to step over Georgetown to gain a lead of 25-24.
However, after a timeout, the Hoyas regrouped and came out strong. Junior guard Kelsey Ransom’s aggressive drives in the paint and a nailed 3-pointer from graduate guard Kristina Moore imbued their side with energy and offensive juice as the Hoyas went on a nine-point run. Back-to-back baskets from senior forward and team captain Graceann Bennett helped Georgetown close out the half decisively, as they extended their lead to double digits and entered the locker room up 43-29.
Despite lower scoring from both teams in the third quarter, this quarter seemed to be the one that would deliver the killing blow against the Friars, as a free throw from Ransom put the Hoyas up by 20 points with four minutes left at 54-34. Providence seemed unable to close the wide gap, inching back in little by little but facing effective Georgetown responses almost every time. The Hoyas ended the quarter up by 15 points at 56-41.
Although Georgetown dominated for most of the game, the Friars owned the late fourth quarter — so much so that it seemed they might snatch the victory. Despite star plays from the Hoyas like a fast break three from Moore that pushed them to a 21-point lead, the Friars outscored the Hoyas 28-17 in the quarter, as they slowly but surely chipped away at the lead to create a climactic final two minutes.
With the Hoyas up by 10 points with only 1:11 to go, it seemed that they could simply cling on to their prior dominance to win the game. However, the Friars battled their way to the basket, scoring eight straight points in one minute off of Hoya turnovers to bring themselves a basket away from the win at 71-69 as tension permeated the crowd.
Taking a timeout with just 11 seconds left, the Hoyas returned to the court, managing to ice out the Friars with two made free throws from Ransom and a successful shutdown of the last Providence drive, winning the game 73-69.
“It’s one of those games where they put pressure on you … and all of a sudden it’s a six or seven-point game,” Head Coach James Howard said in an interview with The Hoya. “In those moments, you have to be tougher. It’s never enough until the last second. I was proud that we could hang in there and find a way to win for our seniors. Sometimes it’s not if you win by 30, but if you win by one that’s good enough.”
With this exciting finish, the Hoyas had four of their five starters reach double digits, with Ransom and Claude leading the team with 21 and 16 points, respectively. Moore and Bennett both showed their reliability and experience in closing out the tight game, as Moore recorded 14 points and 6 rebounds, while Bennett added 12 points. Fauntleroy, who is usually a high scorer for the team, showed up big in other ways, contributing 9 assists and 3 steals.
The victory clinched the team’s final home game of the season, and before play began, the Hoyas held a ceremony to honor the two graduating members of the team, Bennett and Moore. The two were presented with flowers and encased jerseys as the home crowd applauded them for their contributions to the team.
Over the past four years, Bennett has been the Hoyas’ go-to forward, but her impact on the Georgetown community extends far beyond the court. Bennett is a Voice in Sport advocate leader, supporting female-identifying college athletes nationwide. Alongside Ransom, Bennett also co-founded HOY♀S, a women’s affinity and advocacy group for Hoya student-athletes.
“Throughout her four years here, she has been a leader and a captain,” Howard said. “She has one of the strongest work ethics we’ve ever had and she started from the day she walked on campus. She’s come really full circle and it’s been great watching her grow over these past years.”
Bennett has one year of NCAA eligibility left if she chooses to use it.
Although Moore just joined the Hoyas this season after four years at the University of Florida, she has been a bright light on and off the court, according to Howard.
“When you look at Kristina, that’s what a mature five-year player looks like,” Howard said. “From the beginning to the end, she’s been consistent at that ‘work hard, give everything that she has’ attitude, but on the other side she’s funny […] She brings a lot of laughter to the team.”
After closing out their home season, the Hoyas will play their last regular season game at St. John’s University (20-7, 11-7 Big East) on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.
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