Defensive pressure pushes women’s basketball past Georgetown

Media Credit: Madeleine Cook | Staff Photographer

Freshman forward Neila Luma handles the ball on the perimeter in women's basketball's Sunday game against Georgetown.

Women’s basketball used a swarm of defensive pressure within its 2-3 zone to disrupt Georgetown’s defense and force the Hoyas to commit 17 turnovers Sunday afternoon.

The Colonials (2-2) also shot a higher percentage of 6.2 percent from the field, 8.9 percent better from behind the three-point line and defeated Georgetown (2-1) 65–54 at the Smith Center.

“I think we’re getting better and better,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “We’ve been making in-game adjustments when we’ve gotten beat, and our intensity to get back and get into a really aggressive zone has been good.”

The double-digit win gets GW back to the .500 mark after consecutive losses to open the season. Rizzotti was quick to stress the team’s steady improvement as they get set to host the 2017 Paradise Jam over the Thanksgiving holiday.

“I want these guys to be confident, but I also want them to be humble,” Rizzotti said. “This is an opportunity for us to showcase our arena, and our city and our town, and we have to put a great product on the floor.”

Four Colonials scored in double figures as junior forward Kelsi Mahoney and freshman forward Neila Luma each scored a team-high 11 points. GW shot 40.7 percent from the field and 35.0 percent from beyond the arc, while making 10-of-11 free throw attempts on the afternoon.

The Colonials also got 21 points from the bench, as Mahoney, sophomore forward Kendall Bresee and freshman guard Lexus Levy all played big minutes.

“The guys that came off the bench did a good job of picking up the energy and really being more sharp on the offensive end of the floor,” Rizzotti said.

In the first quarter, both teams struggled to trade baskets as the Colonials clung to a 15-14 lead at the end of the first period.

GW hounded the Hoyas in the second quarter, utilizing a full-court trap and zone defense to force Georgetown into tough shots with only seconds left on the shot clock.

The Colonials backcourt was crucial in slowing down Georgetown’s guards, as junior Dionna White and senior Mikalya Venson scored a combined 19 points. The Hoyas shot 6-for-23 from outside the arc on the day.

“Our goal coming into the game was not to give up threes,” Levy said. “So we just had to run them off the line every time.”

The Colonials went on a 13-0 run in the first and second quarters and continued to control the ball through the rest of the half. They outscored the Hoyas 21-4 in the second quarter and took a 36-18 lead into the locker room.

The Hoyas started to fight back in the third quarter. A three-pointer from Georgetown freshman forward Cynthia Petke cut GW’s lead to nine points early in the fourth quarter. Petke finished with 14 points and 16 boards in the game.

GW responded as Mahoney and Luma found enough room for themselves to operate along the baseline for some easy baskets in the paint.

After the game, Luma stressed the importance of patience for GW’s bigs. The trio of Luma, Mahoney and senior forward Kelli Prange combined for 32 points.

“Sometimes we just run around and cut when two people are cutting at the same time,” Luma said. “If we just take our time and know when to cut then we’re going to be fine.”

The Colonials will return to action against Vanderbilt at the Smith Center Thursday. Tip-off is slated for 1:30 p.m.

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