In its finest moments, the Georgetown women’s basketball team’s 2011-2012 season was as sweet as Sugar Rodgers’ long-range jump shot. At its low points, however, offensive struggles and inconsistent performances were enough to dampen the Hoyas’ sense of overall success.
The veteran squad, led by junior guard Rodgers and a cast of seven seniors — including forward Tia Magee, point guard Rubylee Wright and forward Adria Crawford — finished with a record of 23-9 overall and 11-5 in the Big East. The Blue and Gray cemented their position as an elite program in the world of women’s hoops with a third consecutive at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, a program-best fourth-place finish in the Big East and a national ranking for the duration of the season.
“For our seven seniors to have won 20-plus games for the four years that they have been here has truly been amazing,” Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said after the season ended. “I’m very sad to see these seven seniors go, but one thing’s for sure: They know that what they’ve done for this program, and that will never be touched by any other group that comes in here, because they put Georgetown on the map.”
But reminiscent of Georgetown’s roller-coaster season, the program’s future — so bright at the end of the year — may have taken a hit, as Williams-Flournoy recently announced her intention to leave for Auburn next year. The departure of the eighth-year coach, coupled with early exits from both the Big East and NCAA tournaments this season, made for an uncomfortable conclusion to another winning campaign.
The season began in auspicious fashion, as the then-No.10-ranked team dropped two of its first three games, mustering just 53 and 40 points in road losses at Maryland and Louisiana State, respectively.
“Obviously we didn’t want it to go this way, but we have a lot of growing and a lot of maturing to do,” Magee said at the time. “I want my teammates to know that we’ll learn from this and get better.”
The Hoyas responded promptly with an 11-game winning streak that stretched from Nov. 19 until a loss on Jan. 3 and included a 71-46 home thrashing of then-No. 7 Miami. Its trademark press wreaked havoc among opponents, and its up-tempo transition offense resulted in quick buckets, allowing Georgetown to enter the heart of its conference schedule with guns blazing. Rodgers, the regular-season Big East scoring leader with 18.8 points per game, recorded 39 points in a Dec. 30 rout of Dartmouth.
“We’ve seen Sugar do this before — we’ve seen her shoot the lights out,” Williams-Flournoy said that day. “But what people don’t realize is that Sugar does so much more. She rebounds, she gets steals, she plays defense [and] she just played an all-around game.”
The rigorous conference schedule, however, was a wake-up call for the hopeful Hoyas. The Blue and Gray dropped their home opener to DePaul, and abysmal accuracy on field goals doomed Georgetown in subsequent home defeats to Notre Dame and Louisville.
“This was one of those games that we’ll go back and look at and kick ourselves,” Williams-Flournoy said after the loss to the Cardinals. “Our shooting was what hurt us tonight: We turned them over 25 times and had 18 offensive rebounds, but we can’t shoot 33 percent and expect to win.”
Georgetown responded to the Louisville loss by concluding the regular season with seven wins in nine tries, sewing up a double-bye in the Big East tournament for the first time in program history.
However, a 39-32 quarterfinal defeat to West Virginia in the league tournament was followed by a second-round loss at the hands of Georgia Tech in the NCAA tournament. The fifth-seeded Hoyas fell, 76-64, to the fourth-seeded Yellow Jackets, crushing their dreams of a storybook ending for the senior class.
After the season, Rodgers was named to the Big East’s first team and was recognized as an honorable mention AP All-American. Magee received an all-Big East honorable mention.
In the final assessment, despite the uncertainties going forward and the unfortunate ending against Georgia Tech, it is clear that this group of seniors and their coach will be remembered for years to come. Their work and success firmly placed Georgetown as a powerhouse in women’s basketball for the first time in the program’s history.