No. 15 Knights Stop Hoyas’ Upset Bid in Two Overtimes

After Missing First 22 Shots, Georgetown Comeback Falls Short in Extra Periods

By Michael Medici Hoya Staff Writer

If ever the phrase “`A’ for effort,” was applicable, it certainly is for the women’s basketball team’s work on Wednesday night. Playing host Rutgers, ranked No. 15 in the current Associated Press poll, the Hoyas found themselves having to come back.

Which is a gross understatement.

With five minutes remaining in the first half, the Hoyas found themselves down 21-0. That’s right. For the first 15 minutes of the contest, the No. 4-ranked defensive team in the country held Georgetown without so much as one point.

Fast forward two hours of gut wrenching basketball later, and the Hoyas were seen in agony just after losing by three points, 67-64, in double overtime.

In that two hours, the Hoyas put forth one of their best efforts in recent time, as they outscored the Scarlet Knights, undefeated in the Big East, 48-27 over the final 25 minutes of regulation.

The Hoyas started out the game unable to buy a basket. Missing jumpshots, shots from the post, and layups, simply nothing would drop. In all, Georgetown missed their first 22 shots.

Rutgers, on the other hand, ran their way to their 21-point lead. Senior forward Katie Heindel finally broke the drought with five minutes left in the half with a 15-foot jumper. The Hoyas then went on to score 10 more points in the time remaining and trailed at half 25-12, pretty close considering the beginning.

What kept the Hoyas in the game all night was their defense and rebounding. At the half the Georgetown had eight offensive boards to Rutgers four, and held high-powered Rutgers to just 25 points.

“We played tough defense during that entire stretch, I didn’t see our heads really drop,” said Georgetown Head Coach Patrick Knapp.

“They kept switching from man to zone, and that caused us to be kind of hesitant,” said Rutgers Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer.

Georgetown came out of the half and kept up the same intensity, but improved their shooting greatly, which was just 13-percent in the first half.

The Hoyas got it to within eight when senior forward Sylita Thomas put back a Melba Chambers miss, and on the ensuing possession cut it to 34-28 when sophomore guard Katie Smrcka-Duffy hit Thomas with a nice pass that led to a breakaway reverse layup.

Smrcka-Duffy then hit a big three with four minutes remaining and Chambers followed up with one of her own on the Hoyas next posession, and all of a sudden the Hoyas trailed just four, 44-40, with just under three minutes remaining.

Freshmen point guard Leslie Walker then finished the long comeback with a drive with 2:05 remaining, in which she was fouled and converted the free throw for a three-point play.

“We lost chemistry, we started having problems in our ability to score,” Stringer said.

Rutgers marched back as senior guard Tomora Young hit a tough 10-foot baseline jumper to give the Scarlet Knights a 48-43 lead with a minute left.

Walker forced a steal on a Rutgers inbounds play under their own basket and converted the layup to cut it to three with 40 seconds left. Rutgers’ Usha Gilmore then missed a layup at the other end, and the Hoyas had a chance. Thomas ended up taking the final three, but it didn’t go far, as 6-foot-4 sophomore Tammy Sutton-Brown from Rutgers made her third block in the final minute.

Thomas wisely fouled Sutton-Brown, a 57-percent free-throw shooter, who then proceeded to miss the opening end of her one-on-one, giving the Hoyas another life.

Walker took the ball the length of the floor, into the paint, turned and dished to an open Smrcka-Duffy behind the arc. Smrcka-Duffy caught, stopped, and drilled the tying three pointer with just 1.5 seconds left on the clock, and what seemed like an impossible overtime an hour earlier, was now very real.

Georgetown claimed their first lead in the game with 3:45 remaining as Chambers, who led the Hoyas along with Smrcka-Duffy with 15 points, hit a three to put her team up 53-50.

Shawnetta Stewart, the junior leading scorer on Rutgers, then answered with a three of her own with 1:54 left. Free throws by Sutton-Brown followed a Thomas post move, and the game went to double overtime tied at 55.

In the second overtime period, Rutgers turned up the defensive pressure another notch, and Stewart again found her stroke, nailing a three to put her team up for good at 59-55. The Hoyas had opportunities down the stretch, but Chambers missed a three-point attempt from the corner and then had her follow up blocked by Stewart.

“You have to give our team a hell of a lot of credit,” Knapp said.

“We just had to relax and defend,” Chambers said. “We were getting shots, we were just missing them.”

Stewart led all scorers with 17 points, and Sutton Brown led everyone with 17 rebounds.

The Hoyas posted four players in double digits, as Thomas had 14 and Walker had 10. Chambers and Thomas led the team in rebounding with 11 each.

Now the Hoyas regroup after the emotional game and prepare to play Seton Hall, whom the Hoyas host Saturday afternoon. Tip time is 2:00 p.m. in McDonough Arena.

 

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