The Georgetown women’s basketball team (16-14, 9-9 Big East) fell to Rutgers (19-14, 8-10 Big 10) in a heartbreaking 57-55 loss in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament on Thursday evening. A buzzer-beating layup from Rutgers’ senior guard/forward Kahleah Copper sealed the victory for the Scarlet Knights.
Freshman guard Dionna White opened the game with a three for Georgetown, but Rutgers answered on its first offensive possession, hitting a three to tie the score. The rest of the first quarter would proceed in a similar fashion, as the two teams battled back and forth, and neither was able to establish a significant lead. At the close of the first 10 minutes of play, the game was tied at 15.
“We had been working on defense [prior to the game]. We had put in a zone defense. We had been working on packing it in,” Head Coach Natasha Adair said. “Rutgers, traditionally, isn’t a strong perimeter-shooting team, but their guards are really good in the open floor and at breaking down defenses. They are good a scoring in that mid-range game and trying to get to the rim, so we were really focused — as we have been all year — on the defensive side of the ball.”
White opened the second quarter with a layup to put Georgetown up by two. However, the Scarlet Knights responded, holding the Hoyas scoreless for nearly five minutes and scoring nine straight points to take a 24-17 lead.
White ended the Hoyas’ scoring drought with a reverse layup in the lane with 5:02 left to play before halftime, cutting the Scarlet Knights’ advantage to five. White’s basket ignited an 8-3 run for Georgetown that brought the score to 26-25 in the closing minutes of the period. Despite turning the ball over 14 times in the first half, the Hoyas trailed by only one point at the break.
“We talked to the kids all night about gutting it out and toughness, and I thought there were key stops that we had to get. We really emphasized just the extra-effort play,” Adair said. “We talked about going into halftime and cutting their lead down and I thought we had a good momentum going into the locker room only down one.”
Through the first seven minutes of play in the third quarter, neither team was able to establish a lead greater than two points. However, in the final minutes of the quarter, the Scarlet Knights managed to force three Hoya turnovers, enabling them to obtain the lead and stretch it to seven points with 43 seconds left to play. A layup by freshman center Jodi-Marie Ramil brought the Hoyas within five to close out the third quarter.
Georgetown trailed for almost the entirety of the fourth quarter, but managed to battle back down the stretch. The Hoyas scored six straight points over the course of the final three minutes of the contest. The run was capped by a White layup that tied the game at 55 with 28 seconds left to play.
The Hoyas managed to play strong defense as time ticked off the clock, but with less than one second left to play, Copper grabbed the ball off a block by senior guard/forward Logan Battle and laid it in to give the Scarlet Knights a 57-55 victory.
“Dionna [White] made a big play and then at that point we needed a stop,” Adair said. “I thought Logan made one heck of a defensive play with the block, but we just couldn’t round that block up and the tip in buzzer-beater — those are ones that break your back.”
The Hoyas were led by sophomore guard Dorothy Adomako, who scored a team-high 18 points. White finished the game with 16 points to go along with six rebounds. Battle scored 11 points and pulled down six boards in the final game of her collegiate career.
“Logan Battle was huge for us tonight,” Adair said. “She does it on the offensive end for us. She does it on the defensive end for us. She is that kid on the floor with a very high basketball IQ. She played like a senior that didn’t want her season to end tonight. She was everywhere.”
Senior center Rachel Hollivay scored a game-high 22 points for Rutgers. Copper added 21 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
With the win, Rutgers advances to the second round of WNIT to face Virginia (17-15, 6-10 ACC). The loss brings the Hoyas’ season to close at 16-14 — a vast improvement from last season’s 4-27 finish.
“I thought we played hard. I thought we competed. It’s tough for the season to be over, obviously, but we made so many great strides this year. We gave our seniors a postseason — some for the first time ever — and for our returners, you don’t like this feeling [of losing] and when they get some rest and get back in the gym — whenever that is going to be — we prepare to not feel this way next season,” Adair said.
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