After an easy 79-41 win over Augusta State on Saturday, the No. 13 Georgetown women’s basketball team had a chance to validate its highest-ever preseason ranking on Tuesday night.
For the first time since 1985, No. 21 Maryland made the short bus trip to the Hilltop to set up a cross-town matchup between two nationally ranked teams. In arguably the biggest early season game in program history, the Lady Hoyas (2-0) lived up to the hype with an impressive 53-45 victory over the Terrapins (1-1).
In what can best be explained by early season jitters, neither team was sharp offensively. The Terrapins shot just 17.5 percent from the field for the game, including a dreadful 2-of-21 mark from beyond the arc. The Hoyas were able to best them, but ever so slightly, shooting 29.7 percent from the floor and hitting only 5-of-20 attempted three-pointers.
In addition to the poor shooting from both sides, the teams combined for 47 turnovers, 29 by Maryland – not quite the recipe for a beautiful game.
But the only thing that matters in the end is the final score, not the way you get there.
“It was a struggle offensively for both teams,” Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We found the basket, thank goodness, at good times. … It was definitely a team effort by our crew, and a good win, not only to beat a ranked opponent, but to beat Maryland.”
As the sloppy first half wound down with the score tied at 23, standout sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers took the ball up the court and used an incredible step-over move to get her defender moving in the wrong direction; as time expired, she knocked down a three.
“That [shot] was huge,” Williams-Flournoy said. “That just gave our girls the momentum we needed going into halftime. When we came out at the beginning of the second half, we came out with a whole lot of intensity and made them turn the ball over a couple of times.”
The second half began as the first ended, with Georgetown scoring the first nine points to increase its lead to 12.
The story of the game, however, was Maryland’s dominant performance on the glass. The Hoya frontcourt, consisting primarily of 6-foot-6 sophomore Sydney Wilson and 6-foot-1 junior Adria Crawford, could not contain a bigger, more physical Maryland under the basket. The Terrapins won the rebound battle, 63-44, and 6-foot-4 junior Lynetta Kizer pulled down a game-high 16 boards.
“We are small,” Williams-Flournoy said. “Rebounding is going to be our Achilles heel all year.”
Despite its poor shooting performance, Maryland was able to get back in the game and take an eventual 45-43 lead with 1:56 remaining due in large part to second-chance points from offensive rebounds.
But big-time players make plays in big-time situations, and junior guard Rubylee Wright fit that billing Tuesday night. Wright, who was slowed by leg cramps throughout the second half, was able to muster enough energy to hit a three on the Hoyas’ next possession, propelling the Blue and Gray to a 46-45 lead that they would not relinquish.
“They left me open,” the 5-foot-3 point guard said. “Coach always says to stay confident. I missed a couple shots earlier, but I didn’t let that bring me down in the second half. I knew it was a different half, and we had to play. And I was confident knocking down the shot.”
Though they enjoyed defeating a cross-town rival and a nationally ranked opponent, this year’s Hoyas are not satisfied by single wins, no matter who their opponent happens to be on a given night.
“Our girls have learned how to celebrate and move on,” Williams-Flournoy said. “It’s so early in the year. We’re making it seem like this is the biggest game in Georgetown history when it’s only our second game of the year. . We have so many tough games ahead of us. All this game does is get us ready to continue to play tough games.”
The Hoyas finish up a three-game homestand tonight at McDonough Arena against La Salle. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.