Monica McNutt will tell you that there was something a little different about the basketballs that Cincinnati was using. During the Hoyas’ 60-56 win over the Bearcats on Wednesday, McNutt was on fire, shooting 9-of-15 from the floor, including 8-of-12 from beyond the arc.
“It was something about those [basketballs],” McNutt said. “They were a little lighter, and it just worked out well.”
Georgetown (16-2, 5-0), came into the game riding a school-record 14-game winning streak, but Cincinnati had other plans, putting the Hoyas in their deepest hole of the season when the Bearcats took a seven-point lead in the second half.
“We’ve been in all different types of situations, win or lose at the end,” Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “I think that really helped this team to grow because they’ve faced a whole lot of adversity. I think they’re able to conquer [that adversity], and they’ve done a good job of keeping their composure and not panicking.”
It was an uncharacteristic game for the Hoyas. They forced just 11 turnovers, well below average for a team that came into the game leading the nation in steals, averaging 14.6 per game.
“I just thought it was a slow pace and a slow game,” Williams-Flournoy said. “Cincinnati did an excellent job making sure that they didn’t turn over the ball. They were patient and deliberate with their press offense.”
cNutt was the star of the game, going 4-of-5 from beyond the arc in the second half, finishing with four rebounds and a game-high 26 points. McNutt, one of the few upperclassmen on the team, typically terrorizes opponents with her defense, but on Wednesday she made her impact on the offensive end.
“Monica had a great shooting night, on a night when we needed her to have a great shooting night,” Williams-Flournoy said.
“I have to give credit to my teammates [for] the type of defense they were playing, McNutt said after the game. “They were getting me the balls in the right places at the right times.”
The Hoyas dished out 12 assists while committing just seven turnovers, led by sophomore guard Rubylee Wright’s five assists. Before Big East play began, Williams-Flournoy had identified turnovers and rebounds as two points of improvement. The Blue and Gray proved to be good listeners against Cincinnati, winning the rebound battle 35-28.
“The girls have made rebounding one of their main goals and have put it upon themselves, individually, to get it done, and it’s become important to them,” Williams-Flournoy said.
Senior forward Jaleesa Butler led the way with eight rebounds, while sophomore forwards Latia Magee and Adria Crawford each added five for the Hoyas, who had a size advantage on the Bearcats.
“We’ve implemented a rebound goal for each individual, so that everybody can get involved and everybody is accountable,” McNutt said. “But the last two games have been particularly important because Louisville was bigger than us, so we had to get in there and fight with them, but against Cincinnati, we had a size advantage, and we were in a better position to win [the rebounding battle].”
Georgetown will return home this Saturday for a big test against a 13-6 DePaul team that is looking to get back to .500 in conference and win their third Big East game of the year. The Blue Demons are a high-scoring team, averaging almost 70 points per game.
“DePaul is a very good team, very well coached by Coach [Doug] Bruno,” Williams-Flournoy said. “They play extremely hard, they’re aggressive. Their point guard [junior Sam] Quigley is very good. They’re three-point shooters.”
Georgetown will need one of its own three-point shooters to revive her game, as freshman guard Ta’Shauna “Sugar” Rodgers has struggled from the floor recently. She is 10-of-31 from the field overall in the last two games, with 15 points in the win over the Bearcats.
“I hope not!” Williams-Flournoy said with regard to Sugar going through a funk. “Shooters always have periods where they don’t shoot the ball as well as they can. But I think that Sugar realized there are other parts of her game; she has a great pull-up, she’s great in transition, she attacks the basket and she realized that she doesn’t have to rely completely on the three-point shooting. When that [three-point shooting] does come together, it’s a wonderful thing.”
Luckily for the Hoyas, their depth is a huge asset, in addition to their tenacious defense and their spirit.
“I think that this team has the will to win,” Williams-Flournoy said, “and that continues to make them fight.”
The Hoyas hope to stay streaking and set another school record with their 16th straight win on Saturday.
“There’s definitely momentum [going into each game], but we’re not worried about making history,” McNutt said. “But winning does give us a little bit of swag going into the locker room, and so we have high expectations for ourselves.”
Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. in McDonough Arena. “