Leo Hainline ’22
The Providence College Women’s Basketball team returned to winning ways with an overtime win against Georgetown University. The Friars pulled away in the extra period, thanks to a 9-0 run during the final minute and a half to seal the victory. Kylee Sheppard ’25 led the way with 21 points, including seven of the team’s 15 in overtime. This was the Friars’ first win at McDonough Arena, snapping a 16-game losing streak at that venue.
The first half was controlled mostly by the Friars. PC held an eight-point lead at halftime, partly due to the shooting of Lauren Sampson ’23, who hit back-to-back threes in the second quarter, and Alyssa Geary ’22 who led the team with nine points at the break.
Georgetown crawled back into the game after the PC offense stagnated at the end of the third quarter, going scoreless for the final four and a half minutes. The game was closely contested throughout the fourth, but the Friars seemed to seize control following late scores from Janai Crooms ’23 and Sheppard. However, Georgetown managed to bank in a deep three-pointer with just seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
The Hoyas took the initial lead during the extra period and held a one-point advantage with a little over two minutes remaining, but the Friars, particularly Sheppard, rose to the occasion and got multiple stops defensively while also converting on the offensive end. Sheppard knocked down five of her six free throws in the final 40 seconds, putting the game out of reach.
Three Friars scored in double-digits—Sheppard, Geary, and Crooms—and they combined for 48 of the team’s 66 total points. Mary Baskerville ’22 was a force defensively, providing six steals and six blocked shots. The senior center also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
The win in Washington D.C. returns the Friars to .500, with a 9-9 overall record. PC is 4-5 in conference play and had dropped their previous two games against Seton Hall University and Villanova University. The loss against the Wildcats was the team’s first on the road this season, but the recent win against Georgetown elevates their away record to 4-1. Over winter break, PC went 2-4, with their two wins coming against Xavier University and St. John’s University.
Much of the Friars’ roster is composed of freshmen, while their leading scorer, Crooms, is a transfer from Michigan State University. While Baskerville and Geary are certainly the senior leaders, they are surrounded by a squad of players who are mostly amid their first season wearing black and white. This dynamic, although it may, in part, explain some of the team’s inconsistencies and struggles, is one that can improve and it may suggest a strong final stretch of the season. Sheppard has filled the point guard role exceptionally well and is a confident facilitator. Her recent play has been vital for PC’s success, as seen in their game against the Hoyas. Crooms has also established herself as an instrumental part of PC’s lineup through her playmaking ability. Leading the team in points and assists, but also in turnovers, her efficiency and decision-making is an x-factor. As these two players, in addition to the likes of Emily Archibald ’25, Olivia Olsen ’25, Audrey Koch ’25, Meghan Huerter ’25, and Nariah Scott ’25, continue to become accustomed to Friar basketball, the cohesion and efficiency of the team should improve.
In early December, PC fell to the Hoyas at home 55-47, and getting revenge on the road is an excellent way to propel them into a challenging week ahead. The Friars will travel to Omaha, NE to face Creighton University on Friday, Jan. 28. Creighton sits towards the top of the Big East with a 9-2 conference record. The Blue Jays however are coming off a loss to Villanova, a team the Friars split their season series with.
PC then has a short turnaround and returns home to take on legendary coach Geno Auriemma’s University of Connecticut at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Sunday, Jan. 30. The Huskies are ranked tenth in the nation, but they are still without Paige Bueckers ’24, who is recovering from a November surgery to repair an anterior tibial plateau fracture and torn lateral meniscus. Bueckers won the national Player of the Year award last season and became the first freshman in women’s college basketball to ever receive that honor. UConn remains a strong squad without her presence, and the Huskies are undefeated thus far in Big East play. Last season, the Friars only matched up once against UConn, in a game away from home and in front of an empty arena. PC started out the game strong on that occasion, leading 7-1 initially and only trailing by a point after the first quarter. UConn ultimately took control and won the game handily. The matchup scheduled in Providence was canceled due to COVID-19 related issues in 2020/21, so this will be the program’s first game at home against the Huskies since they returned to their rightful home in the Big East. If the Friars pull off the upset in front of a home crowd at the Dunk, it will certainly be the highlight of the team’s season and the careers of some of the players.