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

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL | Despite Championship Loss, Hoyas Proud of How Far They’ve Come

In the program’s first Big East tournament championship game, the Georgetown women’s basketball team fell to the No. 10 UConn Huskies 78-42.
GUHoyas | Senior guard and all-tournament honoree Kelsey Ransom dribbles past UConn guard Ashlynn Shade in transition. Ransom averaged 11.5 points, 5 assists and 2 blocks in the tournament.

After a relentless march to their first-ever Big East tournament championship appearance, the Georgetown University women’s basketball team finally ran into a team they had no answer for.

The Hoyas (22-11, 9-9 Big East) suffered a 78-42 defeat to No. 10 University of Connecticut (29-5, 18-0 Big East) on March 11. The Huskies’ fourth consecutive conference title ended what had been a Cinderella run for the Hoyas, who vastly outperformed their 10th-place projection in the preseason Big East Coaches’ Poll.

Head Coach Darnell Haney said while the team had hoped for a different outcome, he was proud of how hard the team fought.

“I’m so proud to be associated with these people, associated with these young women who put their hearts and souls on the line for this university, for our staff and for me,” Haney told The Hoya in a postgame press conference.

The sixth-seeded Hoyas survived a long journey to reach the championship, beating Xavier (1-27, 0-18 Big East), St. John’s (17-14, 11-7 Big East) and No. 23 Creighton (25-5, 15-3 Big East) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. on consecutive nights from March 8 to March 10.

Graduate forward and captain Graceann Bennett said the team’s goal all season was to play in the Monday night tournament final game.

“This is an unprecedented thing for the program to be playing here, but it was not unprecedented in our minds,” Bennett told The Hoya.

“These are our expectations. These are our standards. This is what we’re repeating to each other every single day. This is the culture we’re building,” Bennett added.

Both teams entered the game struggling with key injuries. The Hoyas lost junior forward Brianna Scott the previous night to a right leg injury, while the Huskies only had seven players available, just one of whom was a forward or center.

Yet UConn tipped off with ruthless efficiency, distributing the ball with ease until the perfect shot revealed itself. The Husky defense made a loud first impression as well, completely smothering the Hoyas’ passing lanes and swiping 3 steals in the first three minutes. Georgetown found itself down 9-0 with 6:54 left in the first quarter, forcing Haney to call a timeout.

Haney recognized that the boisterous Mohegan Sun crowd, flush with Husky blue, was impacting his players’ confidence in the early going.

“Them hitting shots and us not being in position and us not finishing some plays, I think we got a little rattled,” Haney said. “We had never been here before, so I think we got a little rattled. But I’m proud of their fight, man. We fought.”

GUHoyas | The Georgetown University women’s basketball team kneels for the anthem.

Following the quick reset, UConn went on yet another run to extend their lead to 16-2, but the Hoyas began to string together some better plays. Senior guard Kelsey Ransom, graduate forward Mya Bembry and Bennett led a small 7-3 run, but as the quarter ended, Georgetown still trailed 28-11.

Georgetown desperately needed to limit UConn’s damage — and the team did just that. Though the Huskies went on a 14-2 run to begin the period, shooting 72.2% from the field at that point, a series of substitutions woke up Georgetown’s defense.

Led by Ransom, senior guard Yasmin Ott and junior center Ariel Jenkins, the Hoyas shut down their opponents’ passing lanes and made crucial defensive stops to create more offensive opportunities. To end the half, Georgetown went on a 12-5 run of its own, cutting the deficit to 47-25.

The Hoyas had little time to catch up and played with far more physicality to begin the second half. Still, amid the numerous on-court collisions and tumbles, the Huskies remained comfortably ahead behind the stellar play of former National Player of the Year guard Paige Bueckers and standout forward Ice Brady, who combined for 40 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocks on the night.

As the scoreboard read 58-35 to open the fourth quarter, it was already too late for a Hoya comeback. Aside from a few highlight plays by Bembry and some valuable playing experience for Georgetown’s second unit, UConn cruised to the final whistle to hoist its 22nd tournament title.

Between their historic 22 wins on the season, the most for the program since the 2011-12 season, and the official hiring of Haney as Georgetown’s permanent head coach, the team has plenty to celebrate. Still, the Hoyas have unfinished business.

“We’re not gonna wither, we’re not gonna crumble,” Haney said. “We’re gonna go at them every single day.”

“You get punched in the mouth, you get knocked down, you’re gonna get back up,” he added.

With the NCAA tournament selection show scheduled for this Sunday, Georgetown hopes its resume is good enough for one of the 68 March Madness berths. If they miss out, however, the Hoyas are likely to find themselves in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

“Right now, it feels like we have a lot of basketball left to play,” Bennett said. “We’re gonna go one day at a time.”

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About the Contributor
Oliver Ni
Oliver Ni, Senior Sports Editor
Oliver Ni is a sophomore in the SFS from Bolingbrook, Ill., studying science, technology and international affairs with a minor in mathematics. He was a proud member of the seventh lowest-ranked high school baseball team in Illinois. [email protected]
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