WOMEN'S BASKETBALL | Fouls Allow No. 23 ’Cuse to Slip Away
Published: Friday, February 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 00:02
With 6:17 left on Tuesday and with senior shooting guard Sugar Rodgers on the bench in foul trouble, Syracuse freshman Brianna Butler drained a three to put her team up 10 at McDonough Arena — effectively killing any hopes the Georgetown women’s basketball team had of upsetting its long-time rivals in the last regular-season meeting between the teams before Syracuse departs for the ACC.
The Hoyas (13-11, 4-7 Big East), coming off of a heartbreaking overtime loss to St. John’s on Saturday, ultimately fell to No. 23 Syracuse (20-3, 8-2 Big East) 69-60, despite leading by as many as eight points in the second half.
“It’s Syracuse. It’s Georgetown-Syracuse. You don’t have to say anything,” Head Coach Keith Brown said. “[Our players] are more disappointed in themselves than anything else. They came out and wanted to win the game.”
As the second half progressed, the Blue and Gray got into foul trouble and put Syracuse into the bonus early. In the end, this allowed the Orange to not only crawl back into the game but also to extend their lead.
“[Syracuse] went to the line 33 times. Any time a team gets into the bonus first or early, they have the opportunity to score every time down the court,” Brown said. “So we have to do a better job showing the referees that we are attacking the rim. Because if we do that and we both get into the bonus, that is when the game gets closer.”
But Georgetown did hang tough with Syracuse for a majority of Tuesday night’s contest. After struggling early in the first half to break the Orange’s full-court press, the Hoyas — sparked by strong post play from senior center Sydney Wilson and Big East rookie of the week Dominique Vitalis — pulled back within two with 10:57 left.
Throughout the rest of the first half, the Blue and Gray continued to dominate the Orange inside, as their interior advantage was key to keeping them in the game. With six seconds remaining in the half, Vitalis tied the game at 25 with a put-back off of a Rodgers miss. Vitalis finished the game with 10 points and four rebounds.
“Dominique is really starting to come into her own,” Brown said of the freshman forward.
The Hoyas carried their momentum into the second half and with 17:26 remaining opened up a 35-27 lead on the Orange. But after a Syracuse timeout, the visitors collected themselves and started forcing Georgetown into turnovers and tough shots.
Syracuse’s revitalized defensive focus led to easy, open looks in transition, and before Georgetown knew it, its eight-point advantage had turned into a seven-point deficit.
“I kind of feel like we beat ourselves this time,” Wilson said. “I think we definitely were capable of beating them, [but] we just made these little mistakes over and over and over again that were killing us in the second half.”
The Blue and Gray didn’t at all lie down, though, and, with 44 seconds remaining in the game, cut the Orange lead to just four. The Hoyas were then forced to foul in order to extend the game, but Syracuse countered with solid free throw shooting down the stretch to put the game out of reach and walk away with the 69-60 victory.
“I think it was the little things that we didn’t do that [lost us] the game,” Vitalis said. “Yeah, they had a couple of runs, but so did we. We just can’t down ourselves. We have to keep pushing. I think we played hard — we just have to pull it out in the end.”
Vitalis led the way for Georgetown, posting 15 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Freshman guard Katie McCormick was second in scoring with 14 points, while Wilson tallied 12 points and eight boards.
Rodgers, limited by her fouls, was held in check by the Orange and managed just eight points on 1-of-12 shooting.
“Sugar does so much for us, [but] other people need to step up,” Wilson said. “This is just our responsibility to step up when she isn’t having a great night.”
Georgetown will next take on Villanova on Saturday at McDonough Arena. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.