As the clock ticked down, a clutch free throw from graduate student Ariel Stephenson and a layup from redshirt freshman forward Mayowa Taiwo helped women’s basketball propel over Georgetown Sunday.
The Colonials (3-3) bested Georgetown (1-4) 52–49 to earn their first home win of the season and their 800th win in program history. The squad held the Hoyas to 29.5 percent shooting from the field and 5 percent from beyond the arc.
The team opened the first quarter strong with an 8-0 run. The Colonials played a disciplined and aggressive style of defense, trying to keep the Hoyas out of the middle of the court.
“Our game plan coming was to not let them drive middle and close out with high hands,” redshirt freshman guard Tori Hyduke said. “I think we executed that to the best of our ability and we did it well and we ended up winning.”
The Colonials crowded the paint and forced the Hoyas to take long three-point attempts. Georgetown finished the quarter 0-of-9 from the three-point range and finished the game 1-of-20 from beyond the arc.
The Colonials closed out the first quarter leading 16–10, but Georgetown battled back in the second quarter. The Hoyas found ways to reach the free-throw line, netting seven-of-seven from the charity stripe, and they capitalized on the Colonials’ 11 turnovers to the tune of 11 points off turnovers. They ended the half up 27–25.
In an attempt to shut down Georgetown’s drive down the middle of the court, the Colonials racked up 15 personal fouls, and the Hoyas added 12 points from the free-throw line.
“Some of it is in our control,” redshirt freshman forward Mayowa Taiwo said. “So coming to scout, sometimes you’re late sliding over to stop so you’re going to cause a foul.”
Coming out of the halftime break, the Colonials dramatically reduced their turnovers from 11 in the second quarter to 10 throughout the second half.
“As a team, we talked about that in the locker room,” Hyduke said. “Just staying focused, not staring at who we’re going to pass it to, cutting, getting open and just doing what we know we should be doing and what we’ve been practicing.”
The team relied on strong three-point shooting to outscore Georgetown 16–6 in the third quarter, eliminating Georgetown’s narrow lead. The Colonials shot at a higher clip from the three-point line than the free-throw line, shooting 46.2 percent from deep and 33.3 percent from the charity stripe.
“It’d be nice if we could cut our turnovers in half,” Rizzotti said. “We’d score a lot more points. So secondly, when we do get to the line, we just haven’t been very consistent. Sometimes it depends on who goes to the line.”
Georgetown tried to bounce back in the fourth quarter. Halfway through the quarter, each team made just one field goal.
Georgetown seized another two-point lead with three minutes and change left in the game. But Hyduke assisted sophomore center Kayla Mokwuah for a layup to knot the game at 47, and Stephenson stepped up with veteran defensive communication, rebounding and shooting to snatch the lead in the game’s most crucial moments.
Stephenson notched five points, two rebounds and one assist in the game, and her contributions made down the stretch helped capture the victory. Her free throw shooting down the stretch helped the team stay on top.
Rizzotti said pressure free throws are the hardest aspect of basketball because you cannot simulate the situation in practice.
The team has been plagued by injuries, forcing Rizzotti to shuffle the lineup between freshmen and sophomores. Rizzotti said Stephenson’s return from injury provided much-needed experience to the court.
“She’s played in more college basketball games than anyone on our team, and some of them two classes combined probably,” Rizzotti said. “If you combine our freshman and sophomore classes, she’s played more games than all of them.”
The Colonials will hit the court again at the Smith Center Dec. 1 against Coppin State. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.