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Georgetown College women's basketball is hoping for a nice Christmas present in the coming weeks - for all members of the team to be healthy and be able to play.
Second year coach Andrea McCloskey has yet to know what it is like to have a full complement of her players on the floor together, but it also has not stopped the No. 18 Tigers from playing the coach's style of uptempo, stiff defense and crash the boards.
Even against NCAA Division II Bellarmine College (5-1) Tuesday night in Louisville. GC (4-3) trailed by as many as 27 early in the second half, but rallied to close the gap to 10 on several occasions. The Knights thwarted the comeback for the eventual 81-69 win in Knights Hall.
Junior Lizza Jonas, who averages a team-leading 19.7 points per game and averages almost eight rebounds a game, was out because of illness, while sophomore center Devanny King has been battling a foot aliment since the opening weekend of November. In two games, King was averaging 15.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg, but has missed the past five games.
"We don't make excuses," McCloskey said. "Every night, every practice, we go with who we have and know that we can play with anyone if we enforce our will.
"If we relied on the thought of what it will be like when we are all on the floor together, then we don't learn what we can from the game at hand. You have to grow with every competition. I liked our fire and grit tonight against a very good Bellarmine team."
Andrea Howard, who is playing in just her third game this season after a hand injury in preseason, found her offensive spark to lead the team with 25 points. Devon Golden chipped in 15 points and snagged 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. Kourtney Tyra was just shy of a triple-double with 15 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Freshman Jessica Foster stepped up for a career-high 10 points and grabbed a career-high six rebounds.
Six ladies played more than 10 minutes for the Tigers Tuesday evening, while the Knights used 10. GC was edged in the rebounding category, 40-33. The team did force 23 turnovers and had 15 steals, while only committing 17 miscues.
The Knights charged out to an 8-0 lead, forcing McCloskey to burn a quick 30. But, her team responded with an 8-0 run itself for the game's only tie. The two teams played close for the next seven minutes, before BU finished the half on a 24-9 spurt. Bellarmine's lead swelled to 27 before the Tigers found some offensive fire to pull within 10 a couple of times inside the final five minutes.
"We didn't go away and that is another key to my coaching philosophy," McCloskey said. "As long as we keep battling we always have a chance."
This game kicks off a nine-game road trek that will test the Tigers in all kinds of environments, against all kinds of teams. It will continue next weekend in the Shawnee State University Classic in Portsmouth, Ohio before a trip to Puerto Rico for a pair of games. The month of December is wrapped up with a trip to Alabama for the Coaches' vs. Cancer Challenge. Then it's back into conference play Jan. 3 at University of the Cumberlands.
"By the time we get back to Davis-Reid Alumni Gym, we will be extremely road-test and ready to be home," McCloskey said with a laugh. "It's good for us to get on the road. Hopefully in the coming weeks we get healthy and get to use the month or so away from home to bond further.
"It's times such as this when March rolls around that makes all the difference."