March 22, 2024 

Georgetown toughs out first WBIT victory

Hoyas continue impressive season under newly minted head coach

SEATTLE, Wash. — Stepping to the free throw line for the tenth and eleventh time in the match, nothing could stop Kelsey Ransom from sinking her shots. Despite the best efforts of the home crowd, with four seconds left in the game, Ransom’s free throws put the Hoyas up by eight points. And with that, Georgetown sealed their first-ever win in the Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament (WBIT).

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The story of Ransom’s night was clutch-bucket after clutch-bucket, with lots of and-one opportunities and free throws mixed in. The senior guard led the game in scoring with a total of 28 points on the night, shooting over 50% from the field and hitting 9 of 11 free throws attempts Whenever Ransom’s team needed her, she showed up; and ironically enough, she was just playing her normal game.

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“The things I was doing, the shots I was taking, are things that we rep in practice all the time and things that the coaches have prepared us for, so it was really just resting on my principles,” Ransom said postgame. “I was confident in myself and I’m thankful that my team and coaches were confident in me to do that but … it just is a testament to all of us being capable shooters, capable threats on the floor at all times.”

Georgetown head coach Darnell Haney was less modest, opening the presser with praise for the New Jersey native. “I knew it was time for Kelsey Ransom to take over, and she did that.”

Principles of Georgetown basketball shine

The first round matchup at Alaska Airlines Arena between the Washington Huskies and Georgetown Hoyas began evenly. But with three minutes left in the first half and the teams tied at 26, the visiting Hoyas started to take control of the game. Forcing multiple shot clock violations with their disruptive defense helped Georgetown end the first half on a 6-0 run.

Continuing their scoring run, Georgetown grew the lead to 15 points halfway through the third quarter. Causing turnovers, intercepting passes, and forcing backcourt time violations all led to offensive success. Rather than trying to shake things up, Georgetown’s scoring run came from getting back to Georgetown basketball.

“We didn’t really change anything, we just started doing what we do better … coach tells us all the time to stop overthinking. So we just go in and do what we do. And when it looks like that, that’s when we’re at our best and that’s how we should be playing, more than just the end of the second [quarter] into the third, so we expect more for ourselves,” Ransom said.

Coach Haney echoed his senior leader when talking about scouting. He expressed how easy it can be to get caught up worrying about the other team,. At the end of the day, though, Georgetown has its own defensive principles and standards that Haney expects will dictate how they play.

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Despite opening up a sizable lead, Georgetown did not necessarily sail smoothly to victory. The Washington Huskies made a run of their own through the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, taking a one-point lead with 5:42 left in the game. Haney acknowledged that his team got a little lax on the defensive end, messing up assignments and allowing Washington’s run.

Losing this lead did not stir panic on the experienced Georgetown bench, though. The lead change led Haney to remind his team to calm down. Teams always go on runs, Haney knew, and his own squad needed to remain level-headed and stick to their stuff.

“We’ve got to understand that it’s not a race, it’s a marathon,” Haney explained. “We weren’t trying to blow anybody out. We were trying to go possession by possession and play Georgetown basketball. And at the proper time, we needed to take care of business, that’s all it was. It wasn’t much panic or nothing like that, we just got to make sure we were solid and owning our principles and we’ll be just fine.”

With his team locked back in defensively, the Hoyas were able to retake the lead and stay in front until the final whistle. “I’m proud of the way we adapted and got out of that run and made sure we took care of business at the free throw line,” Haney said of securing the victory. “Just proud of our group overall. This is a win in the first ever WBIT and Georgetown got a chance to do it.”

Brand new secondary tournament

The WBIT is sponsored by the NCAA as the women’s secondary tournament, replacing the non-NCAA-sponsored WNIT. With this new tournament, the NCAA now foots the bill for teams competing, and there is an equivalent to the men’s NIT.

The WBIT, in its inaugural season, is naturally not without its issues. It lost some respect immediately after seeding when No. 1 seed Miami opted out and the committee replaced them with James Madison — a team that had not previously been invited to the tournament in any capacity.

None of that matters to the BIG EAST team that came in unseeded to the home of the No. 2 Washington Huskies. They are approaching the WBIT the same way they would have the NCAA Tournament, which they had their sights set on from the beginning of the season.

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“Any team we’re faced with, we’re going to approach the same way. And being in the WBIT for the first year ever is an honor and we’re going to approach it the same way we would approach the NCAA tournament — with grace and gratitude and knowing that it’s a privilege to be here and we earned our way here,” Ransom eloquently explained.

“So we’re not going to take it lightly. We’re proud of ourselves for being able to do this and getting this win and any team that we come across, whether it is in the tournament, the WBIT, we’re gonna play basketball because not everyone’s playing basketball in March.”

Officially ‘Head Coach Darnell Haney’

This victory comes just one day after Darnell Haney officially had the interim tag removed from his title as head coach of Georgetown women’s basketball. After initially learning this was in the works after the BIG EAST Tournament Championship game, there were less emotions this time around, but the exciting moment was not lost on Haney.

“I’m elated to be the head coach at Georgetown … It’s a big thing. I’m just a young kid from Miami, Florida and I got a chance to be the coach at Georgetown University,” Haney said. “I used to dribble the basketball up and down the street for miles, [and] I get a chance to do this.”

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But when it came to game preparation nothing was different. It was the same it’s been all 34 games of the season. Same game planning, same shoot around, same meal time. The only divergence was a trip to Pike Place Market to have a little fun, which Haney certainly did have after getting to partake in the market’s tradition of fish throwing. While a little fun was had, the trip was otherwise serious for everyone in the program. They knew they were here to take care of business.

Haney’s players are thrilled that he is officially the program’s head coach, but they also acknowledged that the title barely reflects the situation. “It’s a fantastic title to have, but the respect we have for him as just a mentor and a leader, there’s no title you could put on that,” Ransom said of her coach. Ransom also extended credit to the entire coaching staff for how much work they put into their roles that led to the team being where they are now.

The Hoyas will continue their WBIT run at No. 3 Tulsa. The second round match will tip off at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 24, and will be broadcast on ESPN+.

Written by Bella Munson

Bella has been a contributor for The Next since September 2023 and is the site's Seattle Storm beat reporter. She also writes for The Equalizer while completing her Journalism & Public Interest Communication degree at the University of Washington.

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