Women’s Basketball | Team Focuses on Balanced Attack

STEPHANIE YUAN/THE HOYA Freshman guard Dionna White scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Georgetown’s first game against Butler on Dec. 31, 2015. White averages 14.8 points per game and six rebounds per game.

STEPHANIE YUAN/THE HOYA
Freshman guard Dionna White scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Georgetown’s first game against Butler on Dec. 31, 2015. White averages 14.8 points per game and six rebounds per game.

The Georgetown women’s basketball team (14-12, 7-9 Big East) will close out its regular season schedule this weekend with two games at home against conference opponents. On Friday, the Hoyas take on the Butler Bulldogs (9-18, 4-12 Big East) before facing off against the Xavier Musketeers (17-10, 8-8 Big East) on Sunday afternoon.

Georgetown has already faced both Butler and Xavier this season. The Hoyas fell to the Bulldogs 82-76 on Dec. 31 and to the Musketeers on Feb. 5, losing that contest 59-54.

Against Butler, Georgetown managed to keep the game close throughout the opening half. The Hoyas trailed by a mere two points at the end of the first quarter and by only seven points at the break. However, in the third quarter the Bulldogs pulled away, extending their advantage to 16 points.

“I think [Butler] just fought harder [in the third quarter]. They were tougher. I just remember them fighting for rebounds. They were just tougher than us overall and they wanted it more,” senior forward Dominique Vitalis said.

Although the Hoyas trailed by double digits for most of the fourth quarter, they made a run late in the game and managed to cut the Bulldog’s lead to five.

Unfortunately, it was too little too late for Georgetown. The Hoyas were unable to finish out the contest, and when time expired they trailed by a six-point margin.

“We just weren’t in synch,” Head Coach Natasha Adair said. “That was so early in the season and so long ago. Both teams are different. We are in rhythm now.”

Georgetown was missing sophomore guard Dorothy Adomako — one of the team’s greatest offensive threats — in its earlier matchup with Butler. In Adomako’s absence, the Hoyas turned to a balanced offensive attack that saw four players score in double figures. Freshman guard Dionna White led the way with 17 points, followed closely by Vitalis, who scored 15. Junior forward Faith Woodard had 14 points, and sophomore guard DiDi Burton chipped in another 10.

“When everyone scores you just can’t compete with us. If five people score 10 points or higher, that’s 50 points right there and if you score 60, then you’re probably going to win the game. When there is balanced scoring, the other team can’t just guard one person because everyone is a threat,” Woodard said.

Butler also had four players post double-digit performances. Senior forward Belle Obert poured in a game-high 19 points for the Bulldogs, and the team’s second leading scorer, freshman forward Tori Schickel, scored 14. Senior guard Blaire Langlois, who averages a team-leading 13 points per game, scored 12 points against the Hoyas to go along with a game-high six assists. Sophomore guard Sydney Buck added another 10 points for Butler.

FILE PHOTO: CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA Senior forward Dominique Vitalis averages 5.9 points per game, scoring 15 points against Butler on Dec. 31.

FILE PHOTO: CLAIRE SOISSON/THE HOYA
Senior forward Dominique Vitalis averages 5.9 points per game, scoring 15 points against Butler on Dec. 31.

“We’re going to attack them a little differently. We’re conscious of [Butler’s] bigs. We may trap a little more and try to get the ball out of their hands,” Adair said. “They have skilled bigs and perimeter players that can shoot threes, so we just have to make sure that we are on our mark defensively.”

The Bulldogs, who have struggled in conference play this season, will come into Friday’s matchup with the Hoyas riding the momentum of a narrow 62-58 upset victory over St. John’s (19-8, 10-6 Big East) that snapped a three-game losing streak. St. John’s is currently tied for the number two spot in the Big East standings, whereas Butler ranks ninth out of 10 teams.

“[Butler] is playing well,” Adair said. “For a ninth-place team, they are not playing like it and that shows the parity in this league, from top to bottom. On any given night you can get beat. They are going to come in here focused. They are going to come in here feeling good coming off a win over St. John’s.”

After Friday’s matchup with Butler, Georgetown will turn its attention to Xavier in preparation for Sunday’s contest.
This season’s earlier game between the two teams was a closely fought battle as neither was able to establish a substantial lead during the first half. Xavier obtained the largest advantage in the opening half when junior forward Leah Schaefer hit a layup to put her team up by six with 57 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

“That game was just a battle. [Xavier] is always a battle for us for whatever reason,” Adair said. “They are a very good team. They are a team that is balanced.”

Xavier maintained its lead throughout the third quarter but was never able to pull away. The Musketeers led by 10 points, the largest lead of the game, with 58 seconds remaining in the period, but a three pointer from junior guard Tyshell King followed by a layup from Burton cut the deficit to five points and gave the Hoyas momentum heading into the final quarter.

In the fourth period, a three pointer from junior guard Jade Martin gave the Hoyas a two-point lead with 5:29 remaining in the contest. Xavier tied the game on its next offensive possession. With 3:44 left on the clock, Burton was fouled and went to the free-throw line, going 1-of-2 and giving the Hoyas a one-point advantage.

Redshirt junior guard Raeshaun Gaffney, who scored a game-high 19 points, answered back for the Musketeers, hitting a three with 3:33 left on the clock to give her team a two-point advantage. A free throw from senior guard/forward Logan Battle brought the Hoyas within one point with 2:21 left to play. However, a made jumper from senior guard Aliyah Zantt ignited a 4-0 run for Xavier to close out the game. When the final buzzer sounded, Georgetown lost 59-54.

“We’re still working on the consistency of our finish and [Xavier] was at home. They wanted to make sure they took care of home court,” Adair said. “They made some toughness plays down the stretch.”

Xavier has lost four games straight and will come into Sunday’s contest looking to turn things around before the start of the postseason.

The Hoyas’ biggest focus this weekend will be protecting the home court for their final two games of the regular season and obtaining valuable momentum heading into the Big East tournament.

“Every game is important, but it is extremely important to get these two wins and have a sweep at our home court to finish off the regular season,” Vitalis said.

Adair echoed that sentiment.

“We have to be dialed in for both games,” Adair said. “It is the last time … for our fans to be able see us this season, and we want to go out on a very high note.”

Friday’s game against Butler is set to tip off at 11 a.m. Sunday’s game, before which the team’s four seniors will be honored, is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. Both contests will be played at McDonough Arena.

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