Standing inches from the maroon and white E that divides the court at Episcopal in Alexandria, Georgetown Visitation junior Ellie Mitchell beamed when recounting the 22-point run with which the Cubs opened Thursday's game.
Georgetown Visitation hardly allowed the Maroon to cross half-court during the first six minutes, using a suffocating full-court press to rattle Episcopal's ballhandlers and generate easy looks at the basket. The Maroon finally scored with 1:40 left in the first quarter, but by then the outcome was all but determined in No. 9 Georgetown Visitation's 65-40 win.
“That's the best we've played the whole year,” said Mitchell, who scored 18 points. “Our defense was on.”
It was an important win for Georgetown Visitation, a young team with two seniors that Coach Mike McCarthy said was still learning to jell. The Cubs (11-3, 4-0 ISL AA) have been prone to confounding defeats this season, including a 55-31 loss to unranked Good Counsel on Dec. 30 at the Title IX D.C. Classic .
Georgetown Visitation quickly made it clear Thursday would not bring another upset. The Cubs routinely beat the Maroon (7-3, 0-2) in transition, only being stopped when 6-foot-2 senior Lexi Weger, a Princeton commit, caught up on defense and was in position to disrupt layups at the rim.
The Cubs also deployed a powerful press. McCarthy knelt in front of his bench, imploring Georgetown Visitation's defenders to “Attack!” Two possessions after Mitchell finished at the rim thanks to a steal and assist from a teammate, the junior forced a turnover herself and scored another layup.
“We have a lot of good athletes. It’s one of the most athletic teams we’ve ever had,” McCarthy said. “If we’re moving, we’re going to get steals and deflections. Even if they get up here and get a shot, we wear them out a little bit.”
Episcopal Coach Katrina Reed urged her team earlier in the week to relish its status as the underdog, using it as motivation against a Georgetown Visitation team that has won 11 straight conference titles.
Reed had to burn two timeouts in the first quarter before senior Maya Goree's three-pointer gave Episcopal its first points. The Maroon finished the first quarter on a 7-0 run, but the comeback was short-lived. The Cubs canned five three-pointers in the second quarter and entered halftime with a 43-13 lead.
“We came out really strong,” Cubs senior Julianne Greenville said. “When we’re getting stops on defense, it helps everyone on offense also, which was happening tonight.”
Cubs sophomore Taylor Webster, who scored 14 points, said she saw coaches from Sidwell Friends and Flint Hill in the stands before the game. It proved effective motivation once the ball tipped and Georgetown Visitation began its blistering first-quarter run.
“We wanted to show them we were the best team in the ISL,” Webster said.