Charles Nailen/The Hoya Georgetown opened its season with a 17 point victory over Colgate at McDonough.

The Georgetown women’s basketball team started its season on a high note Friday night, defeating the Raiders of Colgate University 72-55 in its home season opener. The game featured a double-double from the team’s star, junior forward Rebekkah Brunson. The oompah-pah of the Shaw Junior High School band shook cDonough Gymnasium as cheerleaders added pep to a crowd of 287 fans inaugurating this school year’s regular season.

While Georgetown had already faced Zala Volan of Hungary and the elbourne Tigers in two exhibition games, the match-up against Colgate marked the first game to count toward the team’s record. The contest was also the first of the season for Colgate, a member of the Patriot League. The game followed intense practice in the two weeks since the Hoya’s last exhibition.

“We’ve focused a lot on defense, on moving the ball when our opponents play for zone,” Brunson said.

Head Coach Patrick Knapp agreed, adding, “The last three or four days we improved shot selection and sharing the ball. However, we’re not in sync right now offensively.”

The Hoyas opened the game slowly, playing disjointedly because of a lack of communication and passing between the players. The players demonstrated some opening-night anxiety, rushing to take shots and acting without much thought. When the Raiders moved ahead on the scoreboard 11-9 at 11:26 in the first quarter, Knapp felt obliged to call a timeout and help the players refocus. Neither team showed much offense, scoring a combined 24 points in the first ten minutes of the half.

“In the beginning we were in a hurry to get shots off, not moving the ball from side to side. As soon as we made one pass we would shoot it, and that’s not the game we wanted to play,” Brunson said.

Georgetown regrouped with a timeout, however, and appeared more settled when they returned to the court. The Hoyas increased ball movement and constructed their plays with more patience. Before long, the team had pulled away, outscoring the opposition 22-1. This time Colgate decided it needed a timeout, but the Raiders could never manage to pull themselves back into the game. The Hoyas continued to widen the gap, taking control of the game with aggressive play combined with better shooting and stronger rebounding.

While Colgate applied more pressure and surged toward the end of the half, countering with a 10-2 scoring run, they could not catch up to their opponents. Georgetown held the lead and headed to the locker room leading its opponent by a score of 33-22.

Brunson showed her dominance throughout the half, collecting nine rebounds and 14 points. Freshman forward Carmen Bruce followed with five points. For the Raiders, sophomore forwards Milaina Lagzdins and Leandra Fuller showed solid defense, garnering seven and six rebounds in the half, respectively.

“We should have knocked this team out of the box. We weren’t sharing the ball. This team shouldn’t have scored 55 points, but we weren’t sharing the ball and going to our strengths and trying to get it inside,” Knapp said. “We were playing very selfishly the first half.”

The second half featured more dominance from Georgetown. When the Raiders moved within nine points of their hosts, the Hoyas struck back, burying Colgate with six unanswered hoops. The team continued to pressure Colgate and come through on its shots. Eventually the Hoyas climbed to a 62-36 lead, the largest point-gap between the teams. The team faltered slightly toward the end of the game and Colgate lowered its margin to less than 20 points, where it would remain for the rest of the game. Eventually, the final buzzer sounded and Georgetown walked off the court with its first victory of the season, a 17-point margin. Despite the win, the team showed frustration with the mediocre performance.

“We want to win games, but we want to win them the right way. I would share their disappointment. I’m not down and out or terribly upset, but I know we could have played better,” Knapp said.

Brunson remained the largest presence on the court, earning a double-double by netting 20 points and grabbing 18 boards. The latter statistic ties her career record for single-game rebounds that she first set against West Virginia during the 2000-01 season. Bruce and senior guard Sarah Jenkins pulled their weight for the team as well; Bruce finished with 13 points and Jenkins with 12. They both landed two three-point shots as well. The game showed a large collaborative effort with 12 players receiving playing time – 10 of whom added to the score. The team needs to show a strong effort to support top players such as Brunson, as Jenkins noted.

“We need five players out there all the time who can score and can stop the other team from scoring. [Brunson] can’t score 40 points each night; somebody has got to help her. We also need people denying the ball to the other players too,” Jenkins said. “The focus shouldn’t always be on points; it needs to be on a lot of other things as well.”

Sophomore guard Allison Lipinski lit up the game with some dazzling shooting for the visiting team, hitting five threes while amassing 19 points for the Raiders. Her strong outside shooting helped her become the team’s all-time career leader in three-point shots with 106 in a little more than one season. Freshman guard Meghan Curtin also unleashed some lethal shots from the outside, accumulating 11 points throughout the game. Lagzdins and Fuller proved effective in the paint; each grabbed nine rebounds total.

Georgetown edged their opponents 50-42 in rebounds and had more solid shooting, 37.7 percent to 30.0 percent. The teams combined for 33 fouls, a large reduction from the 56 fouls that marred the Hoya’s match-up against Melbourne. Colgate played from farther out than Georgetown; 40 percent of the Raiders points came from beyond the three-point line.

Despite the victory, the team expressed disappointment with its play. While at times the Hoyas asserted themselves effectively and dominated the game, at other times the players seemed out of sync and clumsy. The team turned over the ball 15 times and missed several easy layup chances. While this inconsistency may not have been fatal against Colgate, scheduled Big East foes and national powerhouses such as the University of Connecticut and Notre Dame will require much stronger performances.

“We made a lot of mistakes out there. We need to lower our turnovers, lower the amount of offensive rebounds we allow the other team, moving the ball better, moving without the ball and just working together as a team,” Brunson said.

The Hoyas have the opportunity to raise their record to 2-0 tonight at 8 p.m. in McDonough Gym against George Mason University. While Georgetown posted a 64-59 victory against the team at the beginning of last season, the Hoyas understand they must step up to face a tougher challenge than the one Colgate posed.

“George Mason is a much better team than a Colgate, but I know that we’re going to come out and play hard and do everything we have to do to beat them,” Brunson said.

The Patriots of George Mason also vanquished the Melbourne Tigers and opened their season successfully with a victory over University of Hartford. In a preseason poll, the coaches of the Colonial Athletic Association chose them to finish third in the division. The team finished last season with a 17-14 record and all five starters have returned. Junior guard Jen Derevjanik, named to the All-CAA team and CAA Rookie of the Year in 2001, leads the team in scoring while junior forward Vernessa Neamo has also played well. She leads the team in rebounding, steals, and blocks and should constitute a threat to the Hoyas.

“They’re undersized, but they’re very quick and scrappy. They have a great shooter in Derevjanik, Knapp said. “We’re going to have to maintain perimeter defense consistency and pressure in this game for sure, or they’ll score more points than Colgate.”

Overall, Georgetown displayed bursts of quality play, but has also demonstrated their ability to play listless and unorganized basketball. While Colgate did not fully test the Hoyas, the team needs to show more effort tonight if it wants to succeed later on in the season.

“I don’t think we played too well. We should have beat them by 30 or 40 points, but by the same token, we underestimated them a little and took them as a joke instead of coming out and playing them as if they were Connecticut or Notre Dame,” Jenkins said. “We have to play everybody with the same intensity.”

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