Charles Nailen/The Hoya Ann Strother and the No. 1 UConn Huskies dominated the Hoyas.

The Georgetown women’s basketball team could not stop Connecticut from gaining its record 55th victory back in January, and it certainly could not stop Connecticut from extending its winning streak to 66 games Wednesday night. Despite a strong performance from junior Rebekkah Brunson, the Hoyas still fell to the Huskies 97-57 at McDonough Gymnasium, their second consecutive defeat by 40 points or more.

“It’s a thrill to play against the best team in the nation, so it pumped me up to play better,” Brunson said

Almost 2,000 women’s basketball supporters showed up to witness the spectacle, setting a home attendance record for the Hoyas this season. Connecticut has earned a following unprecedented for women’s basketball, selling out arenas wherever it travels. The large contingent of Husky supporters attested to either a large national fan base or many curious Washington residents wanting to take a look. The crowd, packed to the top of the bleachers on either side of the court, added to the excitement and pomp of the game, which was attended by a number of media crews.

Connecticut failed to disappoint that evening, but took a few minutes to warm up. After three minutes of playing, the scoreboard read 5-3, with the Huskies leading by two. The game proceeded to unfold slowly and with 12:40 left in the half, Connecticut led 12-7. Then the Huskies opened up, dumping 15 points on the Hoyas, who could not keep up the pace.

Sophomore reserve forward Ashley Battle spearheaded the charge, stepping into the passing lanes to intercept three passes which led to easy baskets. With 7:39 left in the half, sophomore guard Sarah Jenkins hit a jumper to break the Connecticut scoring curse; the team could not, however, undo the damage caused in the past five minutes. The Huskies held a comfortable 27-9 lead, and they easily stayed on top of the Hoyas for the rest of the period.

“Our issue is that we have to be able to throw the ball from the point to the wing,” Knapp said, on the high number of steals.

While the Huskies extended their lead past 20 points, the home team countered in the final minutes with a small scoring blitz. Sophomore guard Mary Lisicky sank a three-pointer in the final minute to push the lead back to 17. Unfortunately, that was as low as the team could push it and Georgetown trailed 42-25 at the half.

The game surpassed the 29-13 halftime score of their first matchup this season, marked by consistent defense and lackluster shooting. Wednesday night, though, Connecticut had no trouble hitting the mark, nailing 64 percent of their shots to Georgetown’s 37 percent. Five treys, including two from star junior guard Diana Taurasi, also helped the Huskies pump up the score. Steals, though, became the Hoyas’ downfall. Connecticut stole the ball seven times during the first 20 minutes, and that helped them gain 13 points of the turnover and 10 points from fast breaks.

“I just tried to go out there and get some easy buckets and control the passing lanes,” Battle said.

Battle owned the half with 11 points and an incredible six steals. Freshman forward Barbara Turner followed her with 10 points. Brunson put in a robust effort for the Hoyas, and came up with eight points and four rebounds.

“Brunson always plays hard. They tried to isolate her, but she always comes out to play,” Knapp said.

The second half turned into an exhibition for the Huskies’ skill and superiority. Connecticut racked up the points while Georgetown gradually disappeared. A series of runs down the court by the Huskies culminating in an easy layup or inside shot defined the last 20 minutes.

“[Since January] they now get the ball inside better,” Knapp said.

The Hoyas’ defense looked sleepy while the offense offered a slightly better showing than last half, but the performance was inadequate to rival the opponents’. When the final buzzer rang, the Huskies’ fans had much to cheer about, while those committed to the Hoyas could only sigh for the third big loss in a row. In the worst defense performance of the year, Georgetown let Connecticut run away with 97 points, while in turn the home team could only post 57.

“We kept moving and we kept it aggressive. It looked good and felt good,” Taurasi said.

In many ways, the game looked just like the loss to Rutgers. The Huskies scored more than 40 points in the paint, 42 to be exact. They also scored 30 points of turnovers, blowing past the Hoyas on their way down court for a layup. The Scarlet Knights pulled the same tricks and ran away with the game as well, winning by 41 points.

“We have to learn how to pass well and how to handle the ball well to prevent them from getting those fast breaks,” Brunson said.

Forcing the ball inside helped, as the number of effortless layups and close jumpers helped the Huskies’ shooting percentage skyrocket to 72.0 percent for the half. The team finished with an unbelievable 68.0 percent shooting average, going 34-for-50 from the floor. Nine buckets from downtown and 20 points from the line did not hurt, either. Georgetown paled in comparison, sinking 23-of-61 shots, or 27.7 percent.

Taurasi, who failed to make an impression against the Hoyas in their meeting in January, looked impressive on Wednesday, finishing with 17 points. Battle also fought her way to 17 points and seven steals, showing herself as the game’s most valuable player. Turner captured 16 points while freshman guard Ann Strothers came up with 13 points on the strength of her three-point shooting. Brunson led the game with 20 points, hitting two treys and averaging over 50 percent. Senior forward Zsuzsanna Horvath helped out with eight points, followed by Lisicky with seven. Both Lisicky and Brunson made uncharacteristically high five turnovers.

Connecticut notches another victory while raising its record to 27-0. The team’s 14-0 record secures it the top seed in the Big East tournament and at least a share in the Big East regular season title. Georgetown, however, has fallen again for the third time in a row, all against ranked opponents. The team stands at 14-11 for the season and 5-9 in the conference, which puts them in ninth place.

Significantly, this marks not only the Hoyas’ final home game this season, but also senior night for four of the players. Horvath, Suzy Bendegue, Shawntese Charles and Santia Jackson all depart the Hilltop after this year and were honored by starting against Connecticut. Joi Irby is also a senior, but has not played because of an injury. Bendegue, at 6’10”, stands as the tallest women’s player in Big East history.

“The team chemistry this year has been the best since I’ve been here. It’s been fun to play with my teammates. It’s been hard, especially times like these when we lose, but we just bounce back,” Horvath said.

Knapp spoke well of the seniors’ playing tonight.

“I’m very happy with the seniors, particularly the efforts of Horvath, Charles and Jackson. Bendegue also started well tonight. These girls work hard for us every day in practice and give us a lot of effort. I have to salute their courage coming out against the No. 1 team in the country, but it’s a tough way to go out.”

Georgetown meets St. John’s on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Queens, N.Y. The Hoyas then wrap up their season against Miami in Florida at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night. These two games will decide on the team’s seeding in the Big East tournament, as the team appears fairly likely to qualify for one of the twelve spots. The Hoyas need both wins and a strong run through the tournament in order to gain the 18 wins needed to win the attention of the NCAA tournament selection committee. A win over Miami will demonstrate that the Hoyas can beat a team with stronger credentials, a strong point for a team that has not shown much fire against the big-timers.

“We still have to keep playing. Part of basketball is that you win some, you lose some. We still have to keep our heads up. We’re going to go out there and play hard,” sophomore guard Sarah Jenkins said.

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