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

Georgetown Inches Closer to Big East Tournament With Win

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Sophomore guard Meredith Cox

With one more league win now than it had all of last season, Georgetown lives to fight another day for a Big East tournament berth.

The Hoyas (14-12, 4-9) opened up an eight-point lead in the first half and never looked back, using their advantage in the paint to down South Florida 66-56 Saturday afternoon in McDonough Gymnasium.

Senior center Aminata Diop took advantage of a small USF (13-13, 3-10) front line, going 7-of-9 from the floor for 16 points, her sixth straight game in double figures.

“I think it all goes back to Coach [Terri Williams-]Flournoy,” Diop said. “She saw that they were not big on size. We kept going inside, and that’s why I touched the ball so many times.”

The Georgetown frontcourt of Diop, senior forward Kieraah Marlow and sophomore forward Jaleesa Butler went a combined 9-of-16 in the first half for 20 of the team’s 30 points, even though Diop was limited to eight minutes after getting into foul trouble early.

“[Diop] has been playing well lately, and we decided to go into the post first,” Williams-Flournoy said. “You don’t want to live and die by the jump shot right away.”

Georgetown’s five-point halftime lead was just as much due to post scoring as to perimeter defense. The Bulls shot just 8-of-27 in the first half, including 2-of-10 from behind the arc. Their leading scorer, junior guard Shantia Grace, scored five points in the first stanza and made 1-of-4 treys.

“They were taking long shots, and they were missing shots,” junior guard Karee Houlette said. “We knew their perimeter players were what would win this game, so we knew if we shut down their guards, we would win.”

South Florida took its only lead of the game, 21-20, with 5:54 left in the first half after Georgetown went on a 3-of-13 shooting drought. Georgetown rushed shots and settled for jump shots after Diop went to the bench with two early fouls and her side up 16-7. For the second time in as many games, Butler went on a mini-run of her own, scoring seven points in the last four minutes of the half to kill the South Florida run and give Georgetown a halftime lead.

This lead proved to be a decisive one, and Georgetown moved into 11th place in the league with three games remaining against Syracuse, Providence and Pittsburgh. Georgetown has already beaten Syracuse once this season and Williams-Flournoy has never lost to Providence, putting the Hoyas in control of their destiny as far as making the Big East tournament.

Since the expansion to 16 teams, no more than two teams with losing league records have made the tournament in any year, but at least three below-.500 teams will advance this season. Seven teams have at least nine losses already, while Marquette (15-12, 7-7) and DePaul (18-8, 7-6) could lose out and up the total to nine teams below .500, five of which would make the league tournament.

While South Florida has only beaten teams higher up in the league table, the Bulls’ last three games come against teams that have spent at least part of this year in the national top 25.

“This game meant a lot for both teams, playing for a spot [in the standings],” USF Head Coach José Fernandez said. “We’ve got Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Marquette, so we’ve got to win a couple of games and hope for some help.”

Georgetown meets Syracuse tonight at 6 p.m. in upstate New York. The Orange (20-6, 8-5) have lost two of three, including a late collapse against Providence (12-14, 2-11) last week in Rhode Island.

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