In its two away games last weekend, the Georgetown women’s basketball team secured critical victories against Butler and Xavier. The games marked the Hoyas’ first back-to-back wins in conference play and their third win in the last four games, pushing them to 10-11 overall and 5-6 in the Big East. With seven regular season games left, Georgetown is in a four-way tie for fifth place.
The first road game was against the Butler Bulldogs (13-10, 5-6 Big East) on Friday. The contest was a back-and-forth battle, but the Hoyas ultimately pulled away in the fourth quarter to win 63-52 — a result unlike two teams’ first meeting Jan. 5 when the Bulldogs came away with the win.
Butler came out firing early on, taking a 6-0 lead just two minutes into the game, and stayed hot throughout the first quarter, leading 20-11. In the second quarter, however, the Hoyas clamped up defensively, holding the Bulldogs to just six points and scoring 14 of their own.
In the third quarter, the two teams remained competitive and exchanged leads multiple times, with neither team taking more than a six-point lead. Not until the last few minutes of the game did Georgetown truly pull away, with back-to-back three pointers by senior guard Mikayla Venson and junior guard Dionna White. The two also made six free throws in the final 30 seconds of the game to seal the deal.
The team’s defense was the most important part of its victory, according to Head Coach James Howard.
“Any time we can hold a team under 55 points, we’ll have a great chance to win,” Howard said.
In particular, Howard credited senior center Yazmine Belk, who had five blocks and 13 rebounds in the game.
“When you have someone like Yazmine, who can provide an inside presence, then the entire game is different,” Howard said.
After combining to shoot just three of 27 in their first game against Butler, White and Venson shot at 48 percent this game, for 36 points. Senior forward Cynthia Petke added 12 points and freshman forward Tatiana Thompson pitched in seven points.
As a team, the Hoyas were outrebounded 38 to 35. They forced 20 turnovers and committed seven.
Sunday’s game against the Xavier Musketeers (9-13, 2-9 Big East) went more smoothly for the Hoyas, as Georgetown jumped ahead early on and never gave up its lead. Early in the fourth quarter, the Hoyas led by as much as 29 points.
On the whole, Georgetown had more rebounds and assists with fewer turnovers than Xavier.
The team’s defense was once again strong, particularly early on in the game. Georgetown forced seven turnovers in the first quarter, holding Xavier to just six points and taking a 15-6 lead after one. A quick 7-0 run for the Hoyas early in the second quarter effectively put them in the driver’s seat for the rest of the game.
Petke recorded 18 points and 11 rebounds in her 11th double-double this season. Venson had 14 points, and White added 14 points as well as seven rebounds and three assists.
The game was markedly different from the two teams’ face-off earlier this year, when Georgetown won 65-60 in a contest that remained tight the entire length of the game. In that contest, the score was still tied late in the fourth, and the Hoyas needed clutch baskets and offensive rebounds down the stretch to come away with the win.
The stretch of games for the Hoyas last weekend shows the team’s growth over the course of the season. Howard credits their play to the growing team chemistry.
“The reason we’ve done so well is because the girls have really come together as one,” Howard said.
Up next, the Hoyas will face the Villanova Wildcats (17-5, Big East 7-4), who are tied for third in the conference. The game will be played in Philadelphia on Feb. 3. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m.