Howard’s 1st Season Capped by WNIT Berth
The Georgetown women’s basketball team had a successful 2017-18 season, appearing in the semifinals of the Big East tournament for the first time since 1999 and earning an appearance in the second round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament for the first time since 2009.
Georgetown finished 16-16 overall and 9-9 in Big East play in the 2017-18 season, earning wins over both the eventual Big East regular-season champion Marquette and Big East tournament winner DePaul.
After starting 2-5 in conference play, the Hoyas earned an 85-58 victory over the Marquette Golden Eagles on Jan. 19. Then-senior forward Cynthia Petke and then-junior guard Mikayla Venson earned a combined total of 59 points, outscoring Marquette by themselves. The win marked Georgetown’s largest margin of victory in conference play last season.
The women’s team also defeated DePaul 86-85 on Feb. 16. Then-junior guard Dionna White tallied a career-high 33 points in the Hoyas’ first win over the Blue Demons since 2010.
Georgetown ended its conference schedule with two straight wins to finish 9-9 in the Big East, edging out Creighton by three points and defeating Providence by 26.
In the 2017 Big East tournament, sixth-seeded Georgetown upset third-seeded Villanova in the quarterfinals with a score of 63-58. Petke led the way with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while White contributed 20 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
In the semifinal of the tournament, however, the Hoyas were dominated in their rematch with the Blue Demons, losing by 32 points.
After the Big East tournament, Georgetown received an at-large bid to the WNIT, where the team faced the University of Delaware in McDonough Area. The Hoyas advanced to the second round with a 10-point win over the Blue Hens. Petke tallied 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while White recorded 16 points and six assists.
Head Coach James Howard’s first season at the helm ended with a three-point loss to Duquesne University in the second round of the WNIT. In that game, White notched 33 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, and Petke recorded 24 points and 10 rebounds.
This season, Georgetown will have to replace Petke’s scoring and defensive contributions to the team, as she graduated from the Hilltop last year after transferring from Chipola College as a junior. Petke was named the Big East’s most improved player, an honorable mention All-Big East selection and to the Big East all-tournament team for her performance last season.
Howard had high praise for Petke, saying the Hoyas will miss her hustle and leadership.
“Cynthia was good at stepping over and taking that charge; she was good at going in there and sticking her nose in there and getting that rebound in traffic,” Howard said in an interview with The Hoya. “Those things right there are something that we’re still trying to replace.”
The Hoyas recognized White’s excellence as well, naming her the team’s most valuable player and defensive player of the year. White led the Hoyas with 18.7 points per game, ranked second on the team with 6.5 rebounds per game and led the Big East with 88 steals.
Howard has continued to instill the fundamentals into his team’s style of play, White noted.
“[Howard] still stresses fundamentals; that’s the foundation. If you don’t have fundamentals, then I can’t play basketball,” White said. “He really focuses on the fact of not relying on talent mainly, because when the talent’s not there, then you have to fall back on your fundamentals.”
Georgetown will welcome the return of graduate student guard Dorothy Adomako, who did not play at all last season because of injury. As a junior, Adomako averaged 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, while contributing 38 blocks.
Adomako will add a dimension to Georgetown’s offense that it lacked last season, according to White.
“She’s going to do what she always did since she came here: She’s a scorer,” White said. “She knows how to score the ball, get buckets, rebound and just bring that extra offensive piece that we didn’t have last year.”
Adomako said that the Hoyas will continue to play their high-tempo style of game, earning easy baskets in transition as they did last season.
“We’re going to look to come out and run teams like we’ve done in the past,” Adomako said. “Coach Howard preaches about it every day in practice, so hopefully we got that going for the first game.”
Howard’s first season on the Hilltop marked a steady improvement, but he expects bigger things from his team going forward.
“I expect us to compete for a Big East championship this season,” Howard said.