Charles Nailen/The Hoya Tough defense helped Georgetown win its first game after four losses.

With six minutes left in the game, the Georgetown women’s basketball team’s lead evaporated as Seton Hall sunk a layup to tie the score at 51. The Hoyas looked in danger of ungluing in the last minutes to fall for the fifth consecutive game, but perseverance and confidence, unseen in the last few games, helped the team survive with a hard-earned 56-53 victory last Saturday.

“I’m very happy. The young women gave a great effort. I saw a lot of energy in this game,” Head Coach Patrick Knapp said.

Back on the road after a crushing loss at home to Pittsburgh, Georgetown traveled north to Seton Hall to take on a competitive Big East adversary. The team had faced a number of setbacks and had dropped four games in a row after a strong 11-2 run. While the game hardly carried the cachet of another women’s basketball game that day, namely the Duke-Connecticut matchup, the victory had its own significance as the Hoyas dug deep and showed a determination vital for any postseason success.

“We wanted to come into the game being very aggressive and we did so by pushing the ball on offense, pressing them more than normal, and by attacking their press,” Knapp said. “We took the early lead and we never gave up the lead.”

Unlike in the recent outings, Georgetown opened up with a strong run and kept the lead throughout the first half. Within six minutes, the Hoyas had a double-digit lead, 15-5. The team’s momentum flagged soon after as the Pirates of Seton Hall launched a counteroffensive to bring the score within three points, 17-14, with 8:40 left in the first half.

Georgetown fought back with some clutch shots that kept the team on top and gradually inflated its cushion by a few points. With less than two minutes to play in the first half, the Seton Hall squad trailed by only three points, but its opponents stepped in to bring the lead back up to six before the clock ran out. For the first time since the contest against Syracuse, the Hoyas held a first-half lead, 34-28.

While the Pirates hit a strong 47.8 percent of their shots, the Hoyas hit a respectable 42.4, slightly above their season average. The visitors did, however, sink three more field goals than their hosts and took ten more shots. Georgetown demonstrated some trouble from three-point range as sophomore guard Mary Lisicky hit the team’s only trey and went 1-for-6 herself. Seton Hall, however, went 4-for-7 from beyond the arc. The home team also had trouble holding on to the ball; the players made 16 turnovers in the first twenty minutes compared with their opponents’ 10.

Junior guard Rebekkah Brunson led in scoring with 10 points, the only double-digit scorer of the half. She also pulled down five boards. Shawntese Charles, more active in the games since sophomore guard Sarah Jenkins developed an injury, ranked second in scoring with eight points. On the other side, junior forward LaNedra Brown stood out with a team-high six points and five rebounds.

Georgetown needed 20 more minutes of strong play to break their losing streak, but Seton Hall came back in the second half to make the game intense. The Pirates brought themselves within two points of tying the game by knocking in some crucial shots in the first three minutes of play. A see-saw game followed as the Hoyas tried to mount a substantial lead while their foes pursued them closely on the scoreboard.

With just under seven minutes left in the game, Georgetown looked poised to take the game. Four players sank jumpers to help the team escape from a tough spot to emerge with an eight-point lead, 51-43. The Pirates refused to walk away from the game, as sophomore forward Ashley Bush scored seven points, the driving force behind an eight-point run. When Bush dropped in a layup with 5:14 left to play, the Hoyas lead, which they had held for the entire time, disappeared, 51-51.

“In the Big East, no team will quit. I expected Seton Hall to come back somehow,” Knapp said. “They made a run, we had to hold them off and then make our own run.”

A foul by Seton Hall senior forward Leslie Ardon put Lisicky on the line; she sank both her free throws and put the team back on top with 4:20 left. The home team still would not yield as Brown scored on a layup to tie the game again. Only 21 seconds later, Lisicky returned to the stripe and went one-and-one. Georgetown held a tenuous one-point lead, 54-53. When the Pirates gained possession, they brought it down court but failed to score on six field goal attempts. Senior forward Nok Duany blocked the last shot and prompted a foul. She hit both tries from the line. Despite a last-ditch three-point attempt, Seton Hall had to concede a close defeat, 56-53.

“We didn’t eke anything out. The bottom line with a close game is that you don’t make it close by defending and rebounding, and that’s what we did,” Knapp said. “When we went down the floor at the end of this game, we got to the free throw line. We also defended them tough in the last few minutes.”

The Hoyas, finally having another chance to add to their win column, raised their season record to 12-6 and 3-4 in the Big East. The last time Georgetown posted a victory was Jan. 15 when it dropped Syracuse in overtime 82-75. Seton Hall drops to 11-6 and 5-3 in the Big East.

Both teams suffered from poor shooting in the second half. The Hoyas held the Pirates to 26.5 percent of their shots, but nailed only seven field goals for a 31.8 percent average, dropping their game average to 38.2 percent. Neither team showed much accuracy from downtown; Georgetown hit two three-pointers all night, both belonging to Lisicky, while their opponents went 2-for-9 in the second half. The Pirates showed little focus from the foul line as they hit less than 50 percent, sinking seven of 15 attempts.

Brunson recorded her eleventh double-double. She went 6-for-12 from the floor for 14 points and grabbed 11 off the glass. Lisicky chipped in 14, but hit only four-of-14 shots, a contrast to last game when she set a career record in points and knocked in six treys. Charles provided eight points and five rebounds while Duany contributed eight bounds and six boards from off the bench.

Bush, whose seven points late in the second half kept her team afloat, finished with a double-double as she racked up 11 points and grabbed 11 boards. Brown also posted double-digits in scoring for the Pirates with 11 points.

The game had a number of parallels to the overtime Syracuse victory in which the Hoyas led after the first half but ran into some rough spots in the last twenty minutes until they won the game in overtime.

“We’re always going to have an issue with how much energy is in the tank when we play,” Knapp said. “But we didn’t stall out, we kept on pushing it.”

Georgetown has a chance to even its Big East record on Wed. night at 7 p.m. in South Bend, Ind., as the team takes on Notre Dame (12-7, 4-4), a formidable opponent. While Georgetown has had little success playing against top-flight teams, the team hopes that the Seton Hall game will motivate them to prove that it can play with the best.

“Can we win at Notre Dame? Yes. Is Notre Dame very good? Yes. We got to play the game, but we took a good step on Saturday,” Knapp said. “We were in a hole. It happens to everybody. We got out of the hole, and that’s a big positive.”

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