Charles Nailen/The Hoya Yolanda Paige breaks away for a layup but the ountaineers could not prevail.

At times, the Georgetown women’s basketball team’s game against West Virginia last Saturday in McDonough Gymnasium had a feeling of sameness to it. Only three minutes had elapsed in the second half when the Mountaineers wrested the lead from their hosts after trailing for the first half, the same trick the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame pulled on Wednesday when they stole the game from the Hoyas. The Hoyas, for their part, looked disorganized, as they often had in their recent contests on the court, failing to come back on defense and responding with a stagnant offense. Somehow, though, Georgetown summoned the energy and drive to put down its foe with a mixture of tenacious defense and on-the-mark shooting that brought it a blowout 78-58 victory over West Virginia when the final buzzer rang.

“Hopefully this will put us back on track and give us some confidence,” freshman forward Carmen Bruce said.

The Shaw Junior High pep band brought zeal along with their brass instruments to the game, adding an unusual cheeriness to the crowd. The Hoyas needed support, coming off their worst defeat of the season at Notre Dame and suffering from a morale-draining five losses in their last six games. Georgetown took the youths’ spiritedness to heart as it stormed the court with a fiery 11-1 run that included two three-pointers and some strong shooting from beyond the arc.

The Hoyas had difficulty maintaining such a quick pace and soon settled down; while the team kept a solid margin, it could not pull away any further as West Virginia awoke to add some competition. The fleet-footed Mountaineers challenged their hosts, sending them running up and down the court in pursuit. When the Hoyas controlled the ball, they tried to slow down the pace and build solid plays. Fortunately, players such as sophomore guard Mary Lisicky, Bruce and junior forward Rebekkah Brunson had the patience and good aim to set up quality shots and sink them.

“I’m not as quick as they are, so I have to give them a step,” Lisicky said of her opponents’ speed. “You have to play smart defense and know your angles and cut them off when they try to drive by you.”

While Georgetown led by 11 points with five minutes and 22 seconds left to play in the half, 29-18, West Virginia roared back in the closing minutes. The Hoya defense could not keep pace with its opponents, and sophomore guard Yolanda Paige and junior guard Sherell Sowho streaked down the court for some important fast break points.

The only thing that obstructed the Mountaineers’ run was the clock, and after 20 minutes the Hoyas still held on to the lead. The slim three-point margin, 34-31, did not guarantee victory for the home team, but their 8-1 record when leading the first half brought hope in the darkest minutes of the second half.

Georgetown led the battle statistically as well, shooting 12-for-30, or 40.0 percent while West Virginia hit nine of its 27 shots, or 33.3 percent. The Mountaineers went 2-for-5 from beyond the arc, compared with the Hoyas one trey out of six attempts. Georgetown held a slight margin on rebounds, but both teams had trouble pulling down boards on offense. Georgetown only grabbed four offensive rebounds and their guests grabbed six.

Bruce led the scoring for the Hoyas with nine points while Brunson headed toward another double-double with seven points and eight rebounds. Lisicky dished out four assists and six points. Sowho had the highest point total of the half with 10, including two three-pointers. Paige and sophomore forward Latitia Williams added six points each as well.

The early second half brought flashbacks of the Notre Dame matchup as two costly turnovers by Georgetown allowed its opponent easy baskets and decreased the lead. With a lay-up from Sowho followed by two free throws, West Virginia grabbed the lead, 35-34.

“Too many turnovers fueled Notre Dame’s comeback and we did it again here,” Knapp said. “There were a couple times as well where we weren’t balanced and we didn’t run hard enough back on defense. It’s a problem for this team.”

While the Fighting Irish used this watershed in order to run away with the game on a 23-point streak, the Mountaineers did not have such luck. The Hoyas reappeared in the competition, showing the resolve and finesse that helped lift them over Seton Hall and brought them a gaggle of early season wins, but in more recent games never materialized.

“Because of our losing streak, sometimes our confidence goes down. We just have to pull through. We did that today, persevered and kept fighting. We needed to control the boards and we did that,” Lisicky said.

Georgetown opened up a nine-point run to bring the team eight points ahead of their opponent, 43-35, with 15:27 left to play. West Virginia tried to come back, brining the lead down to three points, 45-42, with just under 12 minutes on the clock, but from that point Georgetown asserted its domination on the court.

The Hoyas slowly built up their lead, pressuring heavily on defense and hitting some lucky bank shots and sinking in free throws. Lisicky made a spectacular play as time ran out on the shot clock; as the ball found her in the corner, she launched the ball for a three-pointer that sailed in as the buzzer rang to extend the team’s lead to 13, 61-48.

“Lisicky got her stroke back. Brunson was aggressive and came to the free-throw line enough to do damage. Our offense, from first pass to last pass, was maybe the best we’ve run all year,” Knapp said.

Georgetown cruised from there, extending the lead to 22 points at one point. When time expired, the Hoyas had a substantial 78-58 victory by their largest margin since vanquishing Columbia 70-49.

Georgetown shot a respectable 44.8 percent for the half and 42.4 percent for the game, nearing its team average. The Mountaineers had a harder time finding the basket; they hit 30.3 percent of their shots, a drop from the first half. The Hoyas also sank four from beyond the arc and hit 14-of-15 free throws. They only allowed their foes five points off free throws, a sharp contrast to the twenty Notre Dame stole from them in the last twenty minutes of that game. The home team also had a solid advantage off the class, pulling down 46 rebounds to West Virginia’s 36. Both teams committed 19 fouls, and senior forward Eartha White left the game, while Georgetown senior forward Nok Duany came close with four calls.

A 9-of-9 showing from the charity stripe helped Bruce score a game-high 20 points. Lisicky neared triple-double range with 17 points, seven rebounds, and six assists while Brunson earned another double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Sophomore guard Sarah Jenkins returned from an injury to add 11 points from off the bench.

On the other side, Paige turned in 19 points while Sowho contributed 16. The Mountaineers’ leading scorer for the season, junior guard Kate Bulger, had a very slow night; the Hoyas contained her so effectively that she could not score a single basket.

“Notre Dame had more scorers,” Lisicky said. “We were playing a triangle-and-two on the two best players, letting the other people shoot. If we let the people we wanted to shoot the ball do that, we would stay in the game and get the defensive rebounds.”

Knapp agreed, adding further insight.

“Their leading scorers did not score. [Junior forward ichelle] Carter did not score a lot and Bulger got zero. The player that had the most points, Paige, doesn’t score that often, and they were left with that. The key was we rebounded out of it and limited their second shots.”

Georgetown moves up to 13-7 for the season and 4-5 in the Big East, the ninth place. West Virginia has had success outside the conference; they boast a 12-8 record, but cannot hold on in the Big East, as they stay stuck on the bottom of the standings with a 1-8 record.

“I don’t consider West Virginia a last place team. Our league is stronger than a lot of the other leagues around here, top to bottom. West Virginia is a good team; they have an inside-outside presence.

The team heads to Blacksburg, Va., to take on Virginia Tech, which is 10-0 at home this season. A win could even their conference record at 5-5, but Virginia Tech holds a 16-5 season record and has gone 7-3 in the Big East. For Knapp, the crucial time will come when the team falls behind.

“Whatever the breaking point was against Notre Dame, we can’t allow it. This is still a young team; they have to go up against adversary and hold their nerves because there is a lot of game to play. When Virginia Tech takes the lead and the crowd gets behind them, we have to show how much we’ve grown up.”

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