Five weeks, two major holidays and nine postponed or canceled games later, Georgetown College women's basketball finally returned to the court Tuesday evening.
It had all the earmarks of such an unusual, probably unprecedented situation, including some key missing pieces from the lineup and a second-quarter bad patch that spelled doom in an 82-66 loss at undefeated University of the Cumberlands.
Madison Darnell scored 17 points and hauled down eight rebounds to lead GC (1-2, 0-1) in its Mid-South Conference opener at Rollins Center in Williamsburg.
Grace White and Alexis Stapleton each added 13 points, with White collecting a game-high 11 boards. Seven of those were courtesy of the offensive glass to go along with five steals in a tenacious effort.
Stapleton sank three of the Tigers' five 3-pointers.
Lexi Taylor provided 10 of her 12 points off the bench for Georgetown, which hadn't played a game since a 98-86 loss at Asbury two days before Thanksgiving.
Whitney O'Mara (seven) and Lauren Boblitt (four) provided GC's only additional scoring.
GC was without the services of starter and 3-point threat Michaela Kennedy as well as Terri Abram and Maddie Burcham, both of whom averaged double digits off the Tigers' bench in their first two contests.
After Darnell's two free throws in the closing seconds provided the margin for a 21-19 lead, Cumberlands (7-0, 3-0) scored 26 of the next 35 points and ripped open a 45-30 halftime advantage.
That deficit peaked at 24 midway through the third period before the Tigers cut it in half. Stapleton's 3-pointer and a Taylor free throw twice brought GC within a dozen before the Patriots pulled away with seven unanswered points.
Silvia Veloso and Hannah Lawson led five Cumberlands players in double digits with 14 points apiece. Lawson went 4-for-6 from 3-point range, including a bomb that put UC in front to stay with 7:37 remaining in the second period. There were eight lead changes before the Tigers fell into catch-up mode for the duration.
Abbi Douglas drained two threes later in that quarter. Destiny Haworth added another. After holding GC to three points for the first 5:25 in the period, UC sank six of its final eight shots to rip it open.
Compounding GC's defensive difficulty from deep were a fistful of missed free throws. The Tigers took 12 more attempts than the Patriots in the first half but went only 8-for-17. They finished below the break-even mark at 13-for-27 on the evening.
Douglas wound up with 13 points and four assists for Cumberlands. Channing Lewis added 11 points and a team-leading six rebounds off the bench. Carla Covane chipped in 10 points.
Veloso, Douglas and Reagan Begole each made three steals, contributing to 22 GC turnovers.
Cumberlands received votes in the most recent NAIA coaches' poll. The 7-0 start is its best since the 2003-04 season, when it opened the season with 21 consecutive wins.
The road gets no easier for Georgetown, which plays four of its next five games against teams in the top 25, including three of the top eight.
Georgetown hosts No. 19 Lindsey Wilson College at 1 p.m. Thursday and Cumberland University at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Each will be followed by a men's game.
After that, the women face a six-day road gauntlet against No. 2 Campbellsville, No. 7 Shawnee State and No. 8 Thomas More.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.