After securing the sixth seed in the conference tournament, the Georgetown women’s basketball team squared off against third-seeded Villanova in the opening round of the Big East tournament. Villanova’s combined margin of victory in the two teams’ earlier two matchups in the season was only three points. The third meeting proved more successful for the Hoyas, who knocked off the Wildcats 63-58 to advance to the tournament semifinals.

As they did in the first meeting of the year, the Hoyas (15-15, 9-9 Big East) fell behind early against the Wildcats (22-8, 12-6 Big East) and trailed by as many as 12 points before cutting the deficit to six by halftime. The teams went into the locker room with Villanova leading 29-23.

Coming out of the half, the Hoyas exploded with 19 points in the third quarter. Senior forward Cynthia Petke lead the way, scoring nine of her 24 total points during the third quarter. Senior guard Mikayla Venson added six of her own. Holding Villanova to 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting, Georgetown shrunk the deficit to one with just a quarter remaining.

In the fourth quarter, Georgetown maintained its pace from the third, scoring 21 points while holding Villanova to 15 points. Junior guard Dionna White was instrumental in Georgetown’s run, tallying 12 of her 20 points. Additionally, White helped seal the victory with a perfect 6-of-6 from the line, including four during the last minute as the Hoyas were trying to ice the game.

Senior guard DiDi Burton averaged 4.3 points per game and 4 assists per game this season. She scored six points against DePaul.

The victory against Villanova advanced Georgetown to the Big East semifinals for the first time in 19 years. With this accomplishment, however, came the tough task of facing the DePaul Blue Demons (26-7, 15-3 Big East), who earned the second seed in the conference tournament and have won two of the previous four conference tournaments. Although the Hoyas were underdogs, they had defeated the Blue Demons a mere three weeks before.

Aware of the offensive capabilities of their opponent, the Blue and Gray hung around in the first quarter and trailed 17-13. In the second quarter, however, the Blue Demons outscored the Hoyas by 12 and took a commanding 16-point lead into the half.

Georgetown’s troubles continued in the second half, as DePaul’s lead quickly grew to almost 30 at the end of the third. Unlike in their previous meeting, the Hoyas could not keep up with the Blue Demons, evidenced by a collective shooting percentage that dipped below 30 percent.

Head Coach James Howard said the team lacked energy against DePaul.

“Once the game started, I think after the fourth or fifth possession, they had no legs. We just weren’t there from a physical standpoint, and DePaul really did a great job of pushing tempo,” Howard said in a postgame interview with GUHoyas.

The eventual tournament champs walked away with the victory, 85-53.

Although Georgetown ultimately fell to DePaul, two players, Petke and White, earned Big East Honors on Feb. 28. White was named Big East Defensive Player of the Year and Petke was named Big East Most Improved Player.

Petke increased her scoring average from 4.9 to 13.4 points per game and increased her rebounding from 6.5 to 10.4 rebounds per game; her 17 double-doubles rank ninth in the country. She is the only Hoya — and one of just two players in the Big East — to average a double-double this season.

Howard spoke about Petke’s potential before the season and had a sense her play could impress.

“Cynthia Petke is really, really playing well,” Howard said to Georgetown’s media in October. “She had an outstanding summer. She went out and worked on some things that’s really going to enhance her game. She could be the sleeper in the Big East this year, barring no injuries and she stays healthy.”

As for their postseason hopes, the Hoyas have to wait until Selection Monday to find out if they have made the NCAA tournament.

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