The Georgetown University women’s basketball team bounced back from an 0-2 slump with a 66-56 win over on the road against a strong Pittsburgh Panthers team.
The Hoyas (1-2) took to the road looking for their first win to begin gaining momentum before conference play. The team traveled to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers (1-2) of the Atlantic Coast Conference, who came into the game 1-1. Both teams battled back and forth for the first three quarters, but the Hoyas ultimately prevailed after a 20-point fourth quarter to give them a decisive 10 point win.
The Panthers started the game with two triples on its first two possessions to give them a 6-0 early advantage. The Hoyas spent the remainder of the quarter trying to catch up, and eventually narrowed the gap to 9-8 with just over six minutes to go, as graduate guard Brianna Jones buried a jump shot off of a lead pass from sophomore guard Nikola Kovacikova. Graduate guard Taylor Barnes gave the Hoyas their first lead on the next possession by knocking down a three. Pittsburgh ended the quarter on a 12-5 run to take a 20-16 lead.
The second quarter was defined by a series of runs by both teams. After the Blue and Gray whittled the Panthers’ lead down to 24-23, Pittsburgh rattled off 10 unanswered points to give them the 11-point edge. Sophomore guard Cassandra Gordon ended this drought for the Hoyas after she made a jumper with about three minutes left in the half. This opportune shot provided the impetus for the rest of the squad to pick up the scoring.
Freshman forward Graceann Bennett followed Gordon’s lead and grabbed a defensive rebound before grabbing an offensive rebound off a missed shot from Jones, before putting it back up in traffic for two. Georgetown erased the deficit behind two more jumpers from Gordon and another bucket from Bennet that put the Hoyas ahead 35-34. A free throw from Gordon and a jumper from Kovacikova in the closing seconds of the half made it 38-36 Hoyas at the break.
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm offensively at the break, as the game stalemated at 42-39 halfway through the period. Pittsburgh regained the lead following a pair of fastbreak layups from freshman guard Emy Hayford, which helped the Panthers take a 47-42 lead that forced Georgetown Head Coach James Howard to call a timeout. Georgetown responded with four straight points in the final two minutes to trail by just one point heading into the fourth quarter.
Georgetown fell behind quickly to start the final quarter after Pittsburgh opened up with two straight layups. The Blue and Gray then evened the game at 51 after a three-pointer from sophomore guard Tayanna Jones and a layup from Barnes. From this point forward, the Hoyas picked up the defensive intensity and largely stifled the Panther offense in the ensuing seven and a half minutes. Barnes and Jones gave the Hoyas a degree of separation with two three-pointers.
Gordon added a jumper on the next possession to increase the Panthers’ deficit to eight. A stop on the defensive end and a rebound by senior forward Anita Kelava gave Georgetown with the chance to extend the lead to double digits. A pair of free throws from Barnes and a basket by Kelava, coupled with several defensive stops, put the game away as the Hoyas walked away with the 10-point victory.
In an interview GUHoyas after the game, Howard lauded his team’s toughness down the stretch.
“I thought we showed a lot of resilience today, they didn’t give up,” Howard said. “We’re a young team trying to find our place and we had some people step up today.”
He also praised the contributions of a few of his players on both ends of the floor.
“When we score points, we have success and we had some outstanding performances from Taylor Barnes on offense and Anita Kelava and Shanniah Wright on defense,” Howard said. “It was encouraging and it was a great win.”
Barnes led the way offensively for the Hoyas with 18 points, followed by Gordon, who added 12. Brianna Jones and Tayanna Jones both tallied 8 points as well. Kelava blocked five shots and grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds, many of which helped eliminate second chance opportunities for Pittsburgh and gave the ball back to Georgetown.
The Blue and Gray return home looking to record consecutive victories against James Madison on Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. in McDonough Arena. The Dukes eliminated the Hoyas in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals last March, 54-44, so the Hoyas will be looking to avenge their loss.