The Georgetown women’s basketball team continued their winning ways in the NCAA Tournament, so far, beating the fourth-seeded Maryland Terrapins in College Park Tuesday night, 79-57, in a dominating performance once again led by sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers. Rodgers had a career-high 34 points en route to the Hoyas victory, which puts them in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1993.
Although the second round match was hyped up as a big local rivalry, Georgetown saw it as just another game.
“For us it was just the second round of the NCAA tournament, and Maryland was the team we had to get through … on their homecourt,” head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said.
The key to Georgetown’s success against both Maryland and Princeton on Sunday was their defensive performance. The Hoyas jumped out to an early 11-0 lead before Maryland finally made a free throw over five minutes into the game. The Hoyas 1-2-2 full-court defense forced 20 turnovers on the game as the Terps struggled to break the suffocating press. After going into halftime leading 40-24, the Hoyas went on an 11-2 run coming out of the locker room, coasting the rest of the game, with Maryland never getting within 14 points.
But the main story of the night was Rodgers, who made 7-of-10 three-point field goals, including a miraculous one-handed bank shot over two defenders as the shot clock expired late in the first half. She also led the team with nine rebounds and two blocked shots. The Maryland defense, who knew she would be a problem, simply had no answer.
“We tried to throw the kitchen sink at her and we couldn’t get it done,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said.
Rodgers also had two steals and four assists, while making it count from the free throw line, going 7-for-8.
“When she gets in the zone it doesn’t matter what you do. She could shoot with her eyes closed and it would still go in,” Williams-Flournoy said.
The Hoyas shot 52 percent from beyond the arc as a team. Maryland only managed to shoot 19 percent from the same distance.
Some of the dropoff in their offensive efficiency was affected by Maryland’s loss of forward Diandra Tchatchouang, who left the game in the third minute with a knee injury and didn’t return. She is the third leading scorer on the team, averaging 8.9 points per game.
In her injured teammate’s absence, freshman forward Alyssa Thomas had a solid performance, scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. However, her play alone was no match for the Hoyas’ offense, who had four players score in double digits.
Junior point guard Rubylee Wright was that fourth player with 14 points, all in the second half, including 12-for-12 from the line.
The Hoyas go in to the next round with little fear, even against the team that has beaten them twice this year and the last 25 times they have faced them, which happened to be in 1993, the last time the Hoyas were in the Sweet Sixteen.
“They’re a great team,” Senior guard Monica McNutt said. “It’s no secret, but they’re human, they’ve gone down. Why can’t we be the team to take them down again?”
If the team can play the way they have so far in the tournament, they will at least stand a formidable chance against No. 1 UConn. The Hoyas’ full-court press has worn down opponents and forced numerous turnovers. The offense led by Rodgers also has been performing exceptionally well, even though the opposition knows what’s coming. And the Hoyas don’t need any added motivation for their upcoming game.
“When ESPN said that UConn had a potential matchup against Maryland, we were like what? President Obama had us out in the first round,” McNutt said. “So we had a chip on our shoulder this game.”
Connecticut has held Georgetown’s offense at bay in the two previous matchups, limiting Rodgers to less than 17 points in each game and forcing the team to shoot just 25 percent.
But, these Hoyas have beaten their fair share of tough opponents, including Tennessee, Maryland (twice), and West Virginia. One more won’t faze this tough-minded team.
“I mean UConn is UConn,” Rodgers said. “We’re just going to come out and play hard.”