Georgetown almost upset then-No.16 Louisville in McDonough Gymnasium before being outgunned by the Cardinals on Jan. 9. Georgetown almost held on to beat a supposedly better DePaul team on Jan. 20 in Chicago. Georgetown almost had control of its slim playoff hopes before losing to Syracuse at home on Feb. 17. Almost. Last night, the Hoyas had one last chance: Beat Pittsburgh to make the Big East tournament or go home for the season. True to form, the Hoyas (13-16, 3-13) almost won. Pittsburgh (22-7, 10-6) took advantage of the sloppy Georgetown defense in the middle part of the game to build a 14-point lead and held on in a wild final minute of play for a 68-58 win on Georgetown’s senior night. “We played hard and we only had one day to prepare for Pitt,” Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “I told them before the game, play hard and play well tonight, and they did. I never said they had to win.” The game began evenly, but Pittsburgh took an early lead thanks to a balanced scoring attack – five players scored at least five points in the first half while the bulk of Georgetown’s offense rested on junior forward Kieraah Marlow’s shoulders. She scored 11 of the Hoyas’ 22 first-half points despite only playing 11 minutes due to foul trouble. Like much of this season, offense outside of Marlow was scarce. Excluding her, the Hoyas went 4-of-19 in the first half and 0-for-6 on three-point attempts. “It would have been a different ball game had our shooters shot better than 2-for-16 [on three-pointers],” Williams-Flournoy said. Carlin, who played most of the game in her final Georgetown appearance, finished 0-for-5 on threes after hitting 12-of-24 in her last two games. Marlow’s offensive skills kept Georgetown within striking distance, but her ability to contain junior center arcedes Walker was instrumental as the 6-foot-3 Philadelphia native had little resistance in out-muscling junior center Aminata Diop and sophomore forward Katrina Wheeler, both of whom are smaller than the bulky Walker. Georgetown played sloppier ball as the first half progressed with defensive shifts often coming late, and frequent trouble setting a defense before Pittsburgh was ready to shoot. Walker, sometimes lackadaisical, picked her moments, filling gaps left by the defense and scoring, often uncontested for 17 points, all on layups and three free throws. “Sometimes as a player, we really like the offensive end and, God forbid, we play defense,” Pittsburgh Head Coach Agnus Berenato said. “Even when she’s not playing great defense, she changes things out there, just by her presence.” The Panthers nursed their 14-point lead for most of the second half until their two biggest post players, Walker and freshman center Selena Nwide went down with injuries within seconds of each other. Wheeler caught a rebound with 9:17 left to play and Walker caught Wheeler’s elbow in the face and hit the floor hard, unable to get up for several minutes. Her replacement, Nwide, has suffered left knee problems all season and was wearing a brace during the game. Nwide’s faulty knee gave out seconds after she substituted for Walker and left Pittsburgh without a formidable post presence. Given the opening, Wheeler was brilliant. She became the focus of the offense, taking advantage of her smaller defenders and keeping Georgetown in the game despite cold shooting from the perimeter cutting Pittsburgh’s lead from 15-10, but not advancing further. “That’s what [Wheeler] has to bring every game next season,” Williams-Flournoy said. “She can give us 18 [points] and 10 [rebounds] and she can every game.” With the lead cut down to six points, Walker reentered the game and immediately took advantage of Wheeler on her first offensive possession. When Walker was in the game, she took position under the offensive glass at will, using her large frame to stake out a position and score. Despite trailing, Georgetown showed composure as the clock ticked down, cutting the deficit to just four points with 56 seconds remaining. It appeared that Georgetown would have a final chance to come back after freshman guard Jania Sims missed the front end of a one and one. Wheeler came down with the rebound and almost started a fast break but carelessly stepped out of bounds. “We had every opportunity in the world,” Marlow said. “We had the game right there in our hands, except for that turnover.” Sims again handed the Hoyas a chance by throwing away the ensuing inbounds pass to junior guard Kristin Heidloff, who missed the fast-break layup that would have cut the deficit to two points with 38 seconds remaining. “We played well in spurts,” senior guard Kate Carlin said. “Push come to shove, we didn’t produce. Did we play hard? Yes. Did we play to the best of our abilities? No. That just leaves us room for improvement. It’s just a shame it came in the last game of the season.” With Georgetown pressing, Berenato decided against the conventional wisdom of draining the clock and went for the kill. “We were trying to drain the clock but we’d take a shot and miss the rebound or foul so I made the decision to call quick hitters,” Berenato said. “It gave us a little bit of a cushion.” With the loss, Georgetown was eliminated from the Big East tournament and St. John’s, a team the Hoyas beat 53-45 in January, advanced with a 12th-place conference finish at 4-12. The game was the last for Carlin and fellow senior Amber Dorsey, who did not play this year due to an undisclosed medical condition, according to Williams-Flournoy. But with a roster holding five freshmen, the prospects of making significant improvements next season are already very real. “I am very much looking forward to next season, already,” Marlow said with a smile.

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