WOMEN'S BASKETBALL | Losing Streak Indicates Team's Youth
Published: Monday, January 6, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 6, 2014 13:01
Marquette (11-3, 2-1 Big East) outlasted the Georgetown women’s basketball team (6-8, 0-2 Big East) and grabbed the 82-80 overtime win Saturday at McDonough Arena. The loss is the fifth consecutive for the Hoyas, whose last win came Dec. 10.
Georgetown began its winter break with losses to Michigan State and Western Kentucky at the Puerto Rico Classic in San Juan on Dec. 20 and 21, respectively. After a heartbreaking overtime loss to Florida in Gainesville on Dec. 28, the Hoyas returned to McDonough Arena to begin Big East play. The Blue and Gray fell to Creighton on New Year’s Day before dropping Saturday’s game to Marquette.
The Hoyas losing streak, though, is deceiving. The Blue and Gray have lost their last four games, three of which were overtime games, by a combined eight points. Furthermore, these losses came against quality opponents. Creighton finished second in the Big East preseason poll. Michigan State, which was at one time ranked this season, boasts a 9-5 record after playing a difficult nonconference schedule. Marquette is 11-3 and Western Kentucky is 9-4.
This team is a talented squad offensively — just look at the points it puts up. Freshman center Natalie Butler, senior co-captain and forward Andrea White and sophomore guard Katie McCormick are all averaging over 10 points a game, and freshman forward Faith Woodard is averaging 9.9 points a game.
Although the roster lists five seniors, only White and point guard Samisha Powell are returning players. The other three were preseason walk-ons this year. Underclassmen — especially freshmen — have played a prominent role on the team and to their credit they have performed well.
In her second season, McCormick has been forced into a leadership position. After suffering a season-ending knee injury in her freshman season, McCormick has returned and put up big numbers in a considerable amount of minutes.
Butler, a regular starter, is leading the team in both points and rebounds with 15.1 points a game and 12.7 rebounds a game. Woodard played her way into the starting lineup and now averages almost 10 points a game and 5.1 rebounds a game. Freshman Jade Martin averages 18.9 minutes a game, while freshman Tyshell King averages almost two points a game in limited time.
This is not to belittle White and Powell’s importance. The co-captains are instrumental in Georgetown’s success. In the season opener against Richmond, Georgetown’s large lead was dwindling away, but White sealed the game down the stretch with key rebounds and free throws. The forward has continued to be a significant part of the offense. Meanwhile, Powell leads the team in assists and is second in steals.
Despite the impressive offensive statistics, the Hoyas have struggled to win. Georgetown is committing too many turnovers and struggling on the defensive end. The Blue and Gray are averaging 20 turnovers a game, which is six more than opponents. These turnovers take away offensive chances from the Hoyas and give opponents easy transition opportunities.
Additionally, Georgetown gives up a significant amount of points. The Hoyas have allowed, on average, 68.9 points a game and are outscoring their opponents by just .2 points a game. Regardless of how many points Georgetown can score, it is hard to consistently win when it gives up this many points.
These struggles, however, are consistent with a young team.
In the loss against Florida, Georgetown dominated the first half. But the Hoyas blew a 14-point, second-half lead. With Georgetown nursing a two-point lead, Powell fouled out of the game with less than three minutes remaining in the second half. McCormick missed the game because of injury.
Without any other available, veteran guards, inexperienced players were forced to handle the ball. Ultimately, Georgetown missed a game-winning shot at the end of regulation and a game-tying shot at the end of overtime. The Hoyas easily could have, and perhaps should have, won this game.
The Marquette game followed a similar script. Georgetown built a sizable lead in the first half only to be plagued by turnovers and cold shooting in the second half. As its advantage disappeared, Georgetown was able to do just enough to force overtime. Then, with one second left in overtime, a disastrously timed foul allowed the Golden Eagles to win the game at the free-throw line.
These games, though heartbreaking, give the young Blue and Gray the experience of playing with a lead, in a close game and in overtime. Undoubtedly, Georgetown would have liked to learn these lessons while winning, but as the Hoyas continue their Big East schedule, these lessons will prove to be invaluable.
Because No. 1 Connecticut, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 7 Louisville and No. 20 Syracuse all left the Big East, it is no longer the powerhouse division it once was. This bodes well for Georgetown. With a weaker conference schedule, the Hoyas will be able to continue grow as a team and can still threaten to make a run in the Big East tournament.
The Hoyas will seek to end their five-game slide Jan. 8 when they travel to Cincinnati to take on Xavier. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.