FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA Sophomore forward Faith Woodard will head to Cincinnati, Ohio after a 11 rebound effort in the Hoyas’ loss to Villanova. Woodard is averaging 7.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Blue and Gray this season.
FILE PHOTO: JULIA HENNRIKUS/THE HOYA
Sophomore forward Faith Woodard will head to Cincinnati, Ohio after a 11 rebound effort in the Hoyas’ loss to Villanova. Woodard is averaging 7.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Blue and Gray this season.

After an up-and-down weekend that included a win over the Providence Friars and a loss to the Villanova Wildcats, the Georgetown women’s basketball team (4-13, 2-3 Big East) will look to rebound when the team travels to Cincinnati, Ohio, to take on Xavier (11-6, 3-3 Big East) on Friday.

This is the first time the Hoyas have faced the Musketeers this season. Both teams rank in the middle tier of the conference standings, but each team has a chance to make a run in the second half of the season and catapult itself into contention.

“It’s very important, to [Head Coach Natasha Adair] and to us,” junior guard Katie McCormick said, emphasizing the importance of the upcoming weekend games. “We need to keep it going, and I think getting these next two wins would boost us and I think we can get a roll going.”

Xavier has the fifth-bestscoring offense in the Big East, averaging 65.9 points a game. The Hoyas will have to limit the number of fouls they commit, as Xavier has the second highest free throw percentage in the conference at 71.4 percent.

Georgetown will also look to score down low, as Xavier has a strong perimeter defense; the Musketeers allow their opponents to make only 30.6 percent of their three-point shots, good for third in the Big East.

Because of Xavier’s strong perimeter defense, junior forward Dominique Vitalis and sophomore forward Faith Woodard — who had a strong game on the glass against Villanova, tallying 11 rebounds — will be called upon to provide an impact on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. McCormick, coming off a strong performance against Villanova on Sunday, will have to work extra hard to get open from long distance. McCormick scored 12 points, going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, in the loss to the Wildcats.

Starting freshman point guard DiDi Burton will be a key player for the Hoyas against Xavier. Burton did not practice with the team on Wednesday due to minor aches and injuries, but she will be available to play with the team this weekend. The small, shifty point guard has been instrumental in running the Georgetown offense so far. Adair described her as being “like a spitfire.” McCormick made note of Burton’s passing ability when talking about her own performance against Villanova.

“She fed me the ball a lot, especially in transition,” McCormick said.

On Friday, the freshman point guard was instrumental in breaking Providence’s full-court press, which the Friars employed in order to try and slow down the fast-paced Hoyas.

“As a point guard, my responsibility is to start the break in transition. As far as half court sets, it’s my job to tell everyone where they’re supposed to be,” Burton said when asked about her role in the offense.

The Hoyas can also look to McCormick, who has been the primary ball-handler when Burton is on the bench, to handle the lead guard duties. The 5-foot-5-inch freshman point guard Justyce Swango could also see a chance to earn some minutes as another option for Adair off the bench.

Xavier is a spot above the Hoyas in the Big East standings in sixth place. The Musketeers are coming off a recent loss to the DePaul Blue Demons, 84-61, despite nearly doubling their first half scoring output in the second half. The Musketeers are led by junior forward Briana Glover, who averages 11.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Glover is joined in the starting lineup by sophomore guard Raeshaun Gaffney, junior guard Jenna Crittendon, sophomore forward Leah Schaefer and senior guard Maleeka Kynard. Georgetown will have a stark height advantage over the Musketeers as Xavier has three starters that are 5-foot-9 or shorter, another reason that Vitalis and Woodard, who each stand at 6-foot-2, should play key roles in Friday’s game.

If the Hoyas can earn two wins to cap off their three-game road trip, they would have a 4-3 conference record, which could put them in position to contend for the Big East conference championship. However, according to McCormick, the Hoyas need to bring a constant high energy level in order to seize this opportunity.

“Consistency. We definitely need to work on that in both halves. We came out really strong against Villanova in the first and in the second we kind of let up. Defensively [and offensively], we need to stay consistent,” McCormick said.

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