It’s 8:35 p.m.

Complete silence. In a an austere room usually reserved for watching game film, even boisterous Head Coach Dave Nolan has nothing to say. Twenty-seven girls wait hunched forwards on the edges of their seats in complete silence. Sixty teams have been announced and yet Georgetown – a team that had won 14 games, beat two top-25 teams, and advanced to the semifinals of the Big East Tournament – finds itself on the outside looking in. The next few words out of ESPN commentator Dari Nowkhah’s mouth would decide their fate – will decide whether the team lives to play another day or not.

But to fully understand the atmosphere in that small room on the second floor of McDonough Gymnasium, the story begins a half hour earlier.

It’s 8:05 p.m, and the Hoyas are found relaxing, watching ESPN news and eating pizza. ESPN is hyping an average Monday Night Football game and even Mike Tirico cannot dampen the Hoyas’ mood.

It’s 8:10 p.m, and a cheer goes up from the team as the anchor announces that the selection show is coming up. The anticipation in the room grows as each moment passes. The commercial break seems to last an eternity. ESPN returns to a preview of Ohio State’s first basketball game of the season.

It’s 8:20 p.m., and the tension is building. Another preview – this time for the NASCAR Nextel Cup. The team is clearly growing annoyed, prompting one player to blurt out, “No one cares about NASCAR!”

It’s 8:26 p.m., and the selection show begins. University of North Carolina, the defending national champion, is the announced as the first No. 1 seed. The team comments on the highlights being shown. Notre Dame, to which the Hoyas lost 2-0 on Friday, gets a fourth seed. Nolan is not surprised, but some of the players seem to be. Next, Georgia gets the third seed in the bracket, and Nolan shakes his head anxiously.

It’s 8:33 p.m., and West Virginia, Notre Dame, Louisville and Connecticut have all been announced, but no word yet on the Hoyas. The team, which has faced adversity all season with an air of calm and confidence, is losing its nerve. Only four teams remain to be announced. Someone quietly mumbles, “Oh God, we’re not going to get in, are we?” No one wants to acknowledge it, but it is evident that the thought has flashed through everyone’s mind, as Virginia is announced next as the last fourth seed.

It’s 8:36 p.m., and then it flashes across the screen – the name that they have seen thousands of times before, the name they wear proudly on their backs nearly every day – Georgetown University. They glance at each other in shock to make sure it is true. There is an explosion of screams, and the team erupts into celebration.

It has never been easy this season for Georgetown, and ESPN made sure that the theme continued with the suspenseful selection show. Now the Hoyas know they are in, and are ready to face a strong William & Mary team.

“We thought we were probably in so I was thinking, `Oh my gosh, what if we don’t get in?'” senior defender Vanessa Joyce said of watching Georgetown’s first NCAA tournament bid finally hit the screen. “We’ve been talking about it all day, so it is definitely a relief.”

While many people in the country may be surprised to see this upstart program moving up to the national level, the Hoyas have expected this would happen for four years.

“It has been a goal of ours since we arrived here as freshmen,” said senior forward Sara Jordan, who was selected second-team all-Big East last week. “It is definitely something the entire team wanted and expected this season.”

Nolan gave his players five minutes of celebration time before settling them down and preparing them for William & Mary. The Big East coach of the year set up practice times for today and tomorrow and focused his team for the program’s first foray into the NCAA tournament.

“It wasn’t bad enough that the show took forever to start, but then they stick us in the last bracket,” Nolan said. “I know [William & Mary Head Coach] John Daly, and he expected that we would play each other in Charlottesville.”

Nolan couldn’t help but reflect on the season, and all the hard work that has been put in to get the Hoyas to this point.

“This group set out a bunch of lofty goals, especially for after a 5-9 season,” he said. “We set out a list of our goals, and we’ve reached every one of them. Our seniors’ goal as freshmen was to take this program to the next level, and, regardless of what happens Friday, they have done that.”

Georgetown will face William & Mary on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va., but for now the Hoyas have a couple days to take deep breaths and recover from that anxious half hour in McDonough.

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