BENO PICCIANO/THE HOYA Sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers led all scorers with 26 points and guided Georgetown to the second round of the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive year.
Sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers led all scorers with 26 points and guided Georgetown to the second round of the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive year.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Two of the biggest knocks on the Georgetown women’s basketball team have been its lack of consistency and over-dependence on sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers. While Sunday’s win over Princeton did little to negate those concerns, it did show that the Lady Hoyas are going to be a tough out in this NCAA tournament.

Rodgers racked up 26 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals as fifth-seeded Georgetown coasted to a 65-49 victory over the 12th-seeded Tigers. The star sophomore outscored the entire Princeton team in the first half, 16-14.

Sunday’s game was in many ways a typical Lady Hoyas win, but it seemed all the more impressive coming from a squad that had dropped five of seven games to close the year. The Blue and Gray forced the overmatched Tigers into 14 first-half turnovers, harassing them with various full-court presses and forcing an appalling three shot clock violations in the halfcourt game.

“We actually switched up our press,” Georgetown Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We usually do a 1-2-2 or a 1-3-1, but this time we went to our full-court ‘madness’ press.”

The Ivy League champions entered the tournament on a 10-game winning streak even without the services of sophomore forward Niveen Rasheed, who tore her ACL after leading her team in scoring through 12 games. However, the Tigers immediately lost any confidence the winning streak may have provided, as Georgetown answered Princeton junior Lauren Edwards’ opening basket with a 9-0 run.

Junior forward Tia Magee had one of her better games, lighting up Princeton for 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. She scored back-to-back baskets from the post early in the second half, then showed her versatility by knocking down a three-pointer on the next possession.

“I was just feeling it today,” Magee said. “My teammates have talked to me about being more aggressive and being more of an offensive threat. When your teammates tell you that they need you in that type of way, I felt like it was my job to step up.”

Though Georgetown looked dominant at times in an easy win, the resilient Tigers were still able to exploit the Lady Hoyas’ most glaring weaknesses. Princeton won the second half, 35-31, largely by pounding the ball inside against Georgetown’s undersized post players.

“It’s always a concern for us defending in the post, because we are very undersized,” Williams-Flournoy said. “But I actually think we did a good job on [Princeton junior center Devona] Allgood in the first half. She got loose a few times in the second half, but for her to only score eight points, that’s actually very good for a team that doesn’t have a big presence in the paint.”

The weakness of the Blue and Gray bench was also on full display, as junior guard Alexa Roche’s fadeaway jumper provided the only bench points of the afternoon. Princeton’s reserves, on the other hand, scored 20 points.

Still, the Lady Hoyas cannot be taken lightly in this tournament. While the holes in their game are apparent, their defensive pressure is often distressing enough to take other teams out of their game plans.

Connecticut, the nation’s No. 1 team, turned the ball over 28 times and nearly lost at Georgetown last month. If the Lady Hoyas can defeat a tough Maryland squad on their home court Tuesday night, UConn lurks in a potential Elite Eight matchup.

Of course, the Lady Hoyas have to beat the Terps first. But if Georgetown can replicate performances like Sunday’s first half and extend them for 40 minutes this week, don’t be surprised to see the Blue and Gray bounce Maryland and give the Huskies another run for their money.

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