When the Big East tournament tips off in Rosemont, Ill., tomorrow, the Georgetown women’s basketball team (4-26, 2-16 Big East) will have two options: beat Xavier (16-13, 8-10 Big East) or return to Washington, D.C. to wait for the start of next season.
For the Hoyas, who are seeded 10th out of 10 teams in the Big East tournament, a first-round win over the seventh-seeded Musketeers would be a significant upset. Georgetown lost 14 straight games to close out the regular season. Xavier delivered two of those defeats.
“[The Big East tournament] gives us the opportunity to start a new season,” Head Coach Natasha Adair said. “We can rewrite this whole story. [Xavier] is a tough team, but a team that we competed with both times we played them.”
In the first matchup with Xavier on Jan. 16, Georgetown held a six-point lead at halftime. Despite their strong first-half performance, the Hoyas struggled to maintain their advantage after the break. The Musketeers scored seven straight points to open the second half, taking a one-point lead with 17 minutes left to play.
Georgetown kept the score close until the final minutes of the contest. The Hoyas grabbed a one-point lead with 3:06 left to play, but the Musketeers answered back, regaining the lead with a layup from senior guard Maleeka Kynard. Xavier then went on to score nine unanswered points.
Junior forward Dominique Vitalis hit two free throws with three seconds remaining in the game, but it was too little and too late for the Hoyas, as Xavier ended up with an eight-point victory.
Nearly a month later on Feb. 13, tthe Musketeers came to McDonough Arena for their second matchup with the Hoyas. Georgetown led for much of the first half, extending its lead to 11 points with five minutes left to play before the break. However, Xavier closed out the half with an 11-3 run, leaving the Hoyas with a slim two-point advantage heading into the locker room.
The score remained close throughout most of the second half, but once again the Hoyas were unable to hold on down the stretch. Georgetown led by two points with 3:15 remaining, but a layup by junior guard Aliyah Zantt ignited a 7-0 run for Xavier. The Hoyas were held scoreless for the last three minutes of the contest and trailed by five points when the final buzzer sounded.
“It wasn’t so much what [Xavier] did as what we didn’t do,” Adair said. “It is a matter of making that layup, getting that stop, getting that rebound, making that free throw. We do so many things well, we just don’t finish.”
The Hoyas will need freshman guard Dorothy Adomako, who was recently named Big East Freshman of the Year, to step up against Xavier and to continue the dominant play that has defined her first collegiate season.
“Dorothy is a phenomenal player,” junior forward Brittany Horne said. “It is amazing to watch her and I don’t think anyone in the Big East deserved the honor like she did.” Adomako had two outstanding games against Xavier this season, scoring a team-high 18 points in the first matchup and contributing 10 points and eight rebounds in the rematch with the Musketeers.
“Dorothy is a fighter, she is a competitor,” Adair said. “Her work ethic is second to none. She is ready for Saturday and we are ready to have her on the floor to lead us.”
The Hoyas biggest defensive challenge will be stopping sophomore guard Raeshaun Gaffney. Gaffney led Xavier in scoring in both games against Georgetown. She exploded for a game-high 21 points in the first contest and was able to score 12 points in the second matchup.
“[Gaffney] is a top player in this league,” Adair said. “We are going to have to contain her. We are going to have to make it hard for her.”
Georgetown will have to put together a full 40 minutes of play in order to beat Xavier on Saturday and avoid another late-game collapse.
“We have to play tough and do the little things that have cost us games earlier this season,” Adomako said. “I am ready to play hard and to go in there with my teammates and do what we have to do to win.”
Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.
Hoya Staff Writer Emma Conn contributed to reporting.