Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL | Huskies Top Hoyas, Win Fifth Straight Big East Title

CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA Sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers scored 16 points on 6-of-20 shooting against Connecticut.
Sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers scored 16 points on 6-of-20 shooting against Connecticut.

After trailing by 14 points at halftime on Saturday to arguably the best team in women’s college basketball history, No. 18 Georgetown outplayed No. 1 Connecticut in the second half of a tough defensive battle. But the Hoyas (21-8, 9-6 Big East) faded in the final five minutes and fell 52-42, to the top team in the land.

Faced with the challenge of containing an offense that averaged 79.4 points per game heading into Saturday’s matchup, the Hoyas held the Huskies (28-1, 15-0 Big East) to a season-low points total with a high-intensity press, which hampered the visitors from start to finish. The Blue and Gray forced the two-time defending national champions into 26 turnovers but failed to capitalize on those opportunities and committed 18 turnovers of their own.

“If you’re going to force a team into 26 turnovers, you have to able to convert some of those points,” Georgetown Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “It doesn’t do us any justice to force them into turnovers and come down, turn the ball over, come down, take a bad shot, come down, take a quick shot. You’re just not going to win like that.”

UConn never trailed in the contest, but their lead did not exceed single digits until 42 seconds remained in the first half. Up 26-19 the Huskies finished the half on a 7-0 run that culminated in a buzzer-beating three-pointer from freshman guard Bria Hartley.

Rather than hang their heads, however, the Hoyas responded with an 11-2 run to open the second half thanks to a trio of three-pointers from senior guard Monica McNutt, who was honored prior to tip-off in a Senior Day ceremony. The Blue and Gray held the potent UConn offense to just five points over the first 10 minutes of the half and forced the Huskies into an astounding eight turnovers in 10 possessions over part of that stretch.

“It’s unwatchable when it’s like that,” UConn Head Coach Geno Auriemma said. “I think Georgetown had something to do with that. I think the other part was [that] whenever stuff like that happens it’s not just one team. It’s a combination of Georgetown playing really hard and being really aggressive in their traps and Connecticut players being kind of tentative and going backwards instead of attacking.”

While UConn struggled to establish its offensive rhythm —sometimes struggling just to get the ball down the court — Big East scoring leader Maya Moore delivered several key three-pointers to maintain separation between the two teams. The senior forward finished with 20 points.

“When it’s a time-to-score situation, Maya knows how to get open. Maya knows how to get the ball. Maya knows how to find her teammates,” Williams-Flournoy said. “Maya’s an All-American for a reason.”

Georgetown’s standout sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers, the second leading scorer in the conference, brought the Hoyas to within four on a three-pointer with 5:16 remaining and finished with 16 points on 6-of-20 shooting.

But the Blue and Gray offense went silent for the next five minutes, allowing the Huskies to gradually build a double-digit lead and hold on to clinch their fifth consecutive Big East regular season title. Georgetown’s 42 points was a season-low, and the team shot just 25.9 percent from the field on 15-of-58 shooting.

The Huskies were 19-of-25 from the free-throw line, while the Hoyas were just 8-of-9 from the stripe. Connecticut also scored 16 points in the paint while Georgetown managed just six.

The tough loss left mixed feelings for McNutt and the Hoyas, who were disappointed by the outcome yet reassured by the team’s effort and fighting spirit.

“It just solidified the idea in our mind that we’re capable of beating anybody in the country. Our program is past the days of measuring effort,” McNutt said. “It’s crazy to be that close. You look at the statistics. That was Georgetown basketball, and we didn’t close out. … But there are plenty of positives to take away. Yes, it was a great effort.”

Next up for Georgetown is a trip to South Florida. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. tomorrow evening.

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