As the final buzzer sounded last Saturday, the Georgetown women’s basketball team had just beaten the No. 4 team in the country and recorded the biggest win in program history. The No. 11 Lady Hoyas (23-4, 12-2 Big East) beat the Irish (24-3, 11-3 Big East) 76-66 in front of a record 2,417 people at McDonough Arena. It was their most difficult test in a season where they have slowly climbed up the national rankings and reached third place in the ultra-competitive Big East Conference.
After the game, Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy put the game in perspective. “It’s a big game because it’s a ranked opponent; it’s a big game because we’ve never beaten Notre Dame before,” Williams-Flournoy said. “In order to continue to show people how much of a contender we are, we have to beat opponents that are supposed to be better than us.”
It doesn’t get much better than defeating Notre Dame, with its athletic tradition and history, but the Hoyas weren’t focused on the accomplishments of their opponent.
“We come out and play every game, it doesn’t matter who it is, we have to play our style of basketball and that’s what we did,” sophomore forward Adria Crawford said.
What was even more impressive about this game was the way the Hoyas beat Notre Dame. Because of foul trouble, senior Jaleesa Butler, the team’s third leading scorer, only saw the court for seven minutes and contributed just two points. Georgetown’s second leading scorer, Monica McNutt, accounted for only a single point. With two players who average a combined 20 points per game posting just three points, the other players had to step up.
In this case, a pair of sophomores came to the rescue. Forward Adria Crawford provided a lift off the bench and scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half. Complementing her classmate, forward Latia Magee continued to play well, pouring in 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
“In other games Jaleesa and Monica had my back, so if they’re not having one of their better games, then as a teammate it’s my job to pick them up,” Magee said. “I felt like I needed to take more shots, make more shots, make bigger plays.”
Keeping with the theme of underclassmen production, freshman guard Sugar Rodgers once again showed that she is skilled beyond her years. Rodgers had 24 points, including several clutch shots down the stretch, proving that the pressure of facing a top ranked team doesn’t affect her.
“It’s big, but a ranking is just a number,” Rodgers said.
One of her biggest shots came in the second half when Notre Dame managed to tie the game at 42 after going on a 7-0 run. Rodgers knocked a three to cut off the Irish momentum and give her team a much-needed confidence boost. The shot sparked a 9-1 run by the Hoyas and gave them a lead they did not relinquish for the rest of the game.
The keys to the game for Georgetown were turnovers and offensive rebounds. The team’s ability to force Notre Dame to turn the ball over wasn’t surprising, as the Hoyas currently lead the nation in turnover margin. But when the team grabbed 19 offensive boards to Notre Dame’s eight, the undersized Hoyas had reason to rejoice.
“I always tell them we have to out-rebound opponents, but anytime we do it, it’s almost like an extra cupcake in your lunch box,” Williams-Flournoy said.
After the biggest win in program history, the team can’t afford to get ahead of itself, and so far they haven’t. On Tuesday, the Hoyas traveled to Philadelphia to play Villanova. After trailing into the second half, the Hoyas turned the game around to avoid a let down after the big Notre Dame win.
“Our next game is always our biggest game. I don’t try to make anybody seem bigger than what they are,” Williams-Flournoy said.
Georgetown’s next match is against Jacksonville State on Thursday, but it will be hard for the squad not to focus on the game after that. On Saturday, the Hoyas head to Connecticut to take on the Goliath of women’s college basketball, UConn, and try to establish a new biggest win in program history.