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 | Hoyas Gunning for Top Dogs

CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA Sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers was just 1-of-8 from beyond the arc at Connecticut in an 84-62 loss last season.
Sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers was just 1-of-8 from beyond the arc at Connecticut in an 84-62 loss last season.

While the 2010-2011 season has shown that No. 1 Connecticut (27-1, 14-0 Big East) is not quite perfect, No. 18 Georgetown (21-7, 9-5 Big East) might just need to be on Saturday afternoon when the Hoyas take the court against Geno Auriemma and the two-time defending national champions.

The Huskies rolls into the clash with a 15-game winning streak, a 29.3-point average margin of victory and a chance to clinch their fifth straight Big East regular season championship. The good news for the Hoyas: They’ve been down this road befor e.

“We see it as just another top-10 opponent that we’re facing. It’s not like we haven’t been there before. It’s not anything new,” Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “It’s a top-10 opponent, a very good team in the Big East, and just another game of basketball. It doesn’t matter that the fronts of their jerseys say Connecticut. We still have to go out and play just as hard.”

Georgetown, sitting in a four-way tie for fourth place in the Big East, has already toppled two top-10 teams in what has been a very successful season. For the Blue and Gray, success comes from focusing on what they can control – their own performance – and not on their opponents, even if that opponent has won 105 of their past 106 games.

“We believe in our abilities as a team, we’ve played good teams before. The Big East is the toughest women’s conference in the country,” senior guard Monica McNutt, who will be honored before tip-off for Senior Day, said. “We’re not concerned about UConn — the lore of UConn — it’s just a matter of us playing sharp.”

However, the Hoyas will need to find answers for a star-studded Husky lineup which averages 79.4 points per game, headed by the conference’s leading scorer and one of the nation’s elite players, senior guard Maya Moore, who averages 23.6 points per game. The visitors boast two additional double-digit scorers, guards Tiffany Hayes and Bria Hartley, as well as 6-foot-5 freshman center Stefanie Dolson.

“Are we going to have to be conscious of the inside post? Yeah, [Dolson is] huge. That’s definitely something that we have to be aware of. Are we going to have to locate the best player in the country? Yeah, we don’t want to let her get loose,” Williams-Flournoy said. “It’s not really anything different that we have to do. We have to make sure we do exactly what we’re supposed to do.”

The Hoyas are not without their own weapons, too. Standout sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers, the conference’s second-leading scorer and a member of the Naismith Award Midseason Top 30, averages 18.7 points per game. A red-hot shooter with ice-water in her veins, Georgetown’s leading scorer isn’t concerned about the big stage that comes with taking on Moore and company.

“It’s just another game to me,” Rodgers said. “I mean, I’m going to show my stuff anyways, so it’s just another team.”

However, the Hoyas will need a complete team performance to be successful against a foe that is undefeated against non-Stanford opponents in over three calendar years. The Blue and Gray will count on the leadership of McNutt, the team’s second-leading scorer and only senior, as well as the inside presences of junior forwards Tia Magee and Adria Crawford. Georgetown will also need help from the likes of junior guard Alexa Roche and junior forward Tommacina McBride, bench players who were essential in the Blue and Gray’s Wednesday night victory over Pittsburgh.

“Last night one of our coaches said we’re reaching a point where we’re really a team, because you can’t say who [the points are] going to come from,” McNutt said. “Now that everyone’s really starting to get involved and be productive, we’re in a good place going into the post-season.”

While Connecticut is accustomed to life as No. 1, the Hoyas meet the Huskies as relative newcomers on the national stage. The Georgetown program has climbed rapidly over the past two seasons, gaining recognition along the way and picking up marquee wins such as their November victory over then-No. 4 Tennessee.

“I think my team’s confidence is great. When you look at how far we’ve come and the things that they’ve done to get national ranking, to get national attention, to be winning in the Big East,” Williams-Flournoy said. “They understand how hard they have to work. They understand it’s harder to maintain success.”

Auriemma may have his Huskies playing some of the best basketball in the history of the sport, but as the cliche goes, there’s a reason they play the games.

“I think if we play well we’re a very special team. UConn’s a very formidable opponent, it’s no secret. But they’ve taken everyone’s best punches all through the year, so we intend to give them our best punch and see what happens,” McNutt said.

Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at McDonough Arena.

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