WASHINGTON - The No. 6 seed Georgetown University women's basketball team broke a 19-year streak Sunday evening upsetting the third-seeded Villanova University Wildcats (22-8), 63-58, in the quarterfinals of the 2017 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Tournament, presented by the Jeep Brand at Wintrust Arena. With the victory the Hoyas (15-14) advanced to the tournament semifinals for the first time since 1999. Georgetown will face second-seeded DePaul University on Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. ET.
"Our kids fought hard today," said Georgetown Head Coach James Howard. "We started off with a little adversity on the defensive end, and Villanova shot the ball well and jumped out to an early lead. But for our kids to rally around being down, not lose their focus and being able to get back into it? We're so proud of them."
Senior forward Cynthia Petke (Yaounde, Cameroon/-/Chipola College) was a force with her 18th double-double of the season tallying 24 points and a team-best 11 rebounds. She also managed two steals. Junior guard Dionna White (Baltimore, Md./Milford Mill) was the other Hoya in double figures with 20 points while also pulling down nine rebounds and managing three assists.
The teams tied in rebounds managing 34 apiece, and GU forced 12 turnovers on six steals while committing just six turnovers in the contest. Georgetown shot 41.7 percent (25-of-60) from the field, and allowed 43.1 percent (22-of-51) shooting from Villanova.
Georgetown scored first, but a 10-0 Wildcat run forced a Hoya timeout midway through the quarter as the Blue & Gray looked to pick it up on offense. Villanova managed to shut down the Hoyas offense building the lead to 12, 16-4, before a jumper from Petke ended the run. Petke was the lone scorer for the Blue & Gray for the first quarter until the final seconds when White hit a buzzer beater to make it 19-11 in favor of the Wildcats.
Petke opened the second quarter with a trey to get the Hoyas rolling as Georgetown staged an 8-2 run to pull within two, 21-19. The roles were reversed in the second stanza as the GU defense held Villanova and fought to get back into the game gaining all of the momentum.
Late in the half, the Wildcats put together a run as the Hoyas went into the locker room trailing, 29-23, at the break.
Senior guard Mikayla Venson (Arlington, Va./Yorktown/Virginia) began the second half with back-to-back jumpers as GU pulled within two, 29-27. The Hoyas battled to keep it close before a 3-pointer, steal and layup by Petke tied the game at 36 forcing a Villanova timeout and hyping up the Hoya bench.
The Wildcats didn't go away as they came back to regain the lead. However, Georgetown stayed within a possession for the remainder of the stanza, and a jumper at the top of the key from Venson gave the Hoyas their first lead since the opening minute of play, 42-41. A foul in the final second allowed the Wildcats to sink a pair of free throws as VU led 43-42 at the end of the third.
Villanova continued to hold onto a small lead early in the fourth quarter, but a layup from senior guard DiDi Burton (Baltimore, Md./Baltimore City College Prep) sparked an 11-1 run that changed the game. Georgetown cut the lead to one, 49-48, on a pair of free throws from White. The junior then stole the ball at the top of the key and went in for the layup as GU took the lead, 50-49.
Villanova added a free throw, but a 3-pointer by Petke gave the Hoyas the lead again and forced a Nova timeout with five minutes remaining. Both teams came up with defensive stops as the Hoyas clung to the three-point lead from Petke's triple.
With seconds left on the shot clock, sophomore guard Morgan Smith (Upper Marlboro, Md./Riverdale Baptist) drove the baseline and scored to give GU the five-point advantage. Villanova then hit a trey at the one-minute mark as it would come down to the wire. The Hoyas gained possession and called timeout to set up a play as White went in for the layup making it 57-53 with 31 seconds remaining.
The Hoya defense came up with the stop, and Villanova was forced to foul. White sank both, but the shots were followed by a layup from the Wildcats. White was fouled again on the in-bounds, and hit two more. Villanova converted a conventional three-point play, but Venson answered with two free throws. The Wildcats had one more look, but the GU defense made the stop and Petke hit a free throw to seal the 63-58 victory and make history.
"They believed we were playing for those folks that supported us," said Howard referring to his players' mindset this season. "That's when I started to see more team. I saw it meant something, and when it means something, it's bigger than me. It's bigger than them. It's just been a blessing to be here with them along on this ride. We prepare, but it's them right now believing that they can win."
Monday's game will be broadcast live on FS1 with Lisa Byington calling the play-by-play and LaChina Robinson serving as the color analyst. Live stats will be available on www.GUHoyas.com.