Terri Williams-Flournoy couldn’t ask for a much better birthday gift from the Georgetown women’s basketball team.

“It was a great gift,” she said. “It feels good, not just for me but for the kids as well. When they play with confidence, this is how they play.”

The head coach received her first Big East win of the season, as the Hoyas (8-6, 1-2) rebounded from a spate of recent injuries to post a scrappy 79-67 win over the Providence Friars (6-8, 1-2) on Wednesday night in McDonough Gymnasium.

Georgetown suffered a 20-point loss to St. John’s this past Saturday, only fielding four players on the court by the end of the game. This time, however, the Hoyas were able to put eight players on rotation against the improving Friars.

“I think that we no matter what, no matter how many numbers we have, we’ve got to work hard and hustle,” senior guard Bethany LeSueur said. “We have to have a good attitude, and I think that was the difference between here and St. John’s.”

Georgetown ran away with last season’s matchup in Providence, handing the Friars a 57-point loss, an 87-30 thrashing that was one of the most uneven showings in Big East history. This season, however, Providence snapped a 39-game conference losing streak against Cincinnati and was coming off five straight victories heading into Wednesday’s contest.

The Hoyas needed plenty of second-half hustle to put the Friars behind them after a sometimes listless first half. Sophomore forward Kieraah Marlow posted a game-high 25 points while senior guard Bethany LeSueur contributed 24 points as the two formed an inside-outside combination that formed the core of the Hoyas’ offense.

“I had a lot of space to do what I wanted. We had a lot of isolation plays for me to get me in the paint and do what I do,” Marlow said.

Georgetown came out stronger to climb to an eight-point lead, 14-6, after the first five minutes. Providence reinserted itself in the game over the next eight minutes thanks to key turnovers from the home team and some strong offensive rebounding.

Three quick baskets late in the game put the Hoyas back in control before the end of the half. Georgetown left the court ahead by a 32-27 margin. The Hoyas were helped by the Friar’s anemic 3-for-13 three-point shooting and 10 turnovers. Marlow stood out with 16 points as Georgetown dominated the scoring in the paint.

“Luckily for us they didn’t shoot the ball as well as they had been shooting. But I think a lot of it was us being able to pressure in the first half,” Williams-Flournoy said.

Junior swingman Kate Carlin pushed the Hoyas out into the lead with two early three-pointers. The Friars never seriously challenged their hosts after the opening minutes of the half; the team’s 13 fouls ensured that the Hoyas would have ample opportunities to pad their lead from the free-throw line. Georgetown stepped up to challenge, shooting 21-for-25 for the game from the stripe. For a team that has struggled in the past with free throws, the Hoyas looked more poised and practiced.

“It’s amazing when you work at something what happens,” Williams-Flournoy said. “At the beginning of the season we made an emphasis: that’s the charity line. That’s something given to us, we have to be able to get something off of it.”

As Providence continued to struggle from outside, the visiting squad found some success by forcing the ball inside. Gayle Nwafili led the charge for her team in the paint with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

“We wanted to go out and pressure the wings, but then we had to go and change it because they were killing us at the high post,” Williams-Flournoy said.

The inside charge left Georgetown to adjust as freshman center Katrina Wheeler left the court for a while with four fouls while Carlin and senior center Christine Whitt both saw time in the five position.

“We know that things like that are going to happen and we know how low we are in numbers, but we need to mix and match positions. I think everyone did a great job adjusting,” arlow said.

In the end, however, the Hoyas had little trouble staying ahead of their opponents. The team’s 60.9 percent shooting from the floor in the second half, combined with frequent trips to the free-throw line were enough for their first win of the New Year.

Georgetown faces a tougher challenge this weekend in Morgantown, W.Va. The Mountaineers (9-4, 2-1) have steadily improved in recent seasons behind the talent of the Bulger sisters. Younger sibling, eg, remains to lead the team this season. The junior guard has averaged 20 points per game this season. The Hoyas will see if their renewed intensity can bring more conference wins when they tip off on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

“As long as we continue to go hard and play like we know how, we’ll be fine,” Marlow said.

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