Georgetown’s women’s basketball team took a break from its tough Big East schedule to down Columbia University (7-6) 70-49 last night in McDonough Gymnasium in the last of five consecutive home games.

From the beginning, the Hoyas (10-2) looked to concentrate on defense and shut down their opponents while working the bench harder.

“The first thing was we set a defense goal: we wanted to limit to less than 55 points. The kids did a very good job in a lot of ways playing defense,” Head Coach Patrick Knapp said. “The second thing was that we wanted to rest some starters, and we clearly wanted to have [junior forward] Rebekkah Brunson and [sophomore guard] Mary Lisicky some rest.”

The team achieved its first goal right from the start, pressuring Columbia’s defense and limiting its opponent’s scoring opportunities with such efficiency that they held the Lions to six points for the first 10:40. Strong offensive work from starters Brunson and Lisicky, along with senior forward Nok Duany, freshman forward Carmen Bruce, and sophomore guard Sarah Jenkins ran up the score for the Hoyas so that they led 19-6 in the first 10 minutes to bury the visiting team.

Soon Knapp began replacing the starters, allowing a large range from the bench to come in and test their mettle against Columbia. The team kept up the same tough defense while driving the ball into the paint where the forwards could take advantage of the sluggish Lion defense.

“They had the height to match us, but we have quick forwards who were able to go around our opponents pretty easily,” junior forward Varda Tamoulianis said.

With less than three minutes left in the half, Bruce hit a jumper to send the team up by 15 points, 32-17, the largest lead of the second half and a sure sign that Georgetown could coast through this matchup. While some disputes about the score and the clock gave the last few minutes a stop-and-go feel as the referees debated, the Hoyas eventually went to the locker room with a commanding 12-point lead, 36-24.

While both teams had some problems with outside shooting in the first half, neither team looked impressive from beyond the three-point stripe and the teams could not reach field goal percentages over 40 percent. Both teams, however, looked sharp from the foul line where the Hoyas went 11-for-12 and the Lions hit six-of-seven. Brunson led the team on offense with 10 points with Lisicky following with seven. Senior forward Katie Day held up Columbia’s offense with 10 points.

With Brunson and Lisicky back in to start the second half, Georgetown raced out with some hot shooting to further distance themselves from the visiting team. Brunson went on a streak, tearing down the lane to rack up eight points while making her mark on defense with some strong blocks and rebounds. Soon, though, the starters returned to the bench to rest up while their teammates maintained the lead, stretching it to 25 points at one point.

Soon, however, the Hoya offense lost some steam and the team went on a 4:30 dry spell, missing passes and failing to convert in the paint.

“They made the right decisions there and got the ball inside, but we didn’t finish it. They made some simple mistakes, but the kids tried very, very hard,” Knapp said. “They never stopped playing defense, and that was our priority. If you’re not going to score for almost five minutes, you better not let the other team score either.”

In the end, though, the Hoyas finished 21 points ahead, 70-49, and the team met Knapp’s goal. The vociferous Columbia crowd grasped at straws during the last few minutes, forced to watch their team stumble against the home team’s defense.

While at one point in the half, Georgetown shot as high as 62.5 percent; the late offensive drought and some clumsy shots cut it back down to 39.3 percent for a game average of 40.4 percent. On the other hand, the team effectively shut down the Lions on offense, limiting them to only nine field goals in the second half, or a shooting percentage of 28.1 percent. The Hoyas can also boast of strong free throw shooting, nailing 21 baskets in 23 attempts.

With only 22 minutes in the game, Brunson still led the team in scoring with 18 points, while Day also scored 18 points to lead Columbia. Jenkins also scored in the double-digits with 11 points, the only other Hoya to do so.

After a five game stand at McDonough Gymnasium stretching back to Dec. 30, the Hoyas finally depart on a tough road trip with stops at Syracuse and Storrs, Conn., home of the reigning champions, the University of Connecticut Huskies.

“All my teammates say that it’s really tough and that you get really tired, but I’m just excited.” Narumol Berggren said. “You obviously have to play some away games. I just hate flying; I don’t want to fly there.”

While UConn remains undefeated in the league with a 14-0 record and the second and third spots in the two major polls, the Syracuse Orangewomen have had some trouble with their opening Big East games, falling to 0-3. They sport a 5-9 season record, but their losses have come from such solid teams as Miami, who vanquished Georgetown in the Big East opener, and Virginia Tech.

“Syracuse is a good team, no matter what their record is. Julie McBride is a very, very good player. To prepare, we’ll go over a lot of defensive situations tomorrow as well as attack their zone,” Knapp said.

On Wednesday night Georgetown will find out if they can defend their home turf against a high caliber team as the Big East season heats up. The Hoyas need a strong performance on the road this week if it hopes to makes a statement this season.

“We’re just going out there and playing hard. I know I’ll try and go out there, play smart, and try to help the team. We have a good team and we can win,” Tamoulianis said.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.