For the Georgetown women’s basketball team, the 2011-12 season was all about missed opportunities.

It doesn’t look terrible on paper. The Hoyas finished 23-9, made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament and put two players on all-Big East teams. For a program that only marked its most recent arrival on the scene four years ago, that’s an objectively successful season.

But you’ll have to forgive Georgetown fans if they don’t see it that way.

The season was characterized more than anything by a failure to show up when it mattered. From a 19-point November drubbing at the hands of local rival Maryland to a brutal 39-32 loss to West Virginia in the Big East tournament, the Hoyas struggled to execute — especially on offense — in the season’s biggest games.

The trend was especially disheartening considering the high expectations with which the Blue and Gray entered the year.

The vaunted class of 2012, pivotal in turning the program around, had finally reached its senior year. Dominant shooting guard Sugar Rodgers had another year of experience under her belt. Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy’s swarming defense had nearly propelled Georgetown past powerhouse — and No. 1 seed — Connecticut in the 2011 NCAA tournament.

By all accounts, this team appeared ready to step into the national spotlight.

But nearly every time they had a chance to prove themselves against a highly ranked team, though, the Hoyas went belly up. They remained in the top 25 for the entire season — climbing as high as No. 15 in the nation after a 13-game winning streak — but never secured the marquee victories that would push them over the edge.

So when fourth-seeded Georgia Tech ended fifth-seeded Georgetown’s season with relative ease in the second round of the NCAA tournament, it was with disappointment that the Hoyas’ seven seniors walked off the court for the last time.

 

AN INAUSPICIOUS START:

NO. 11 MARYLAND 72, NO. 10 GEORGETOWN 53

After beginning the season with an uninspiring but satisfactory home win over Longwood, Georgetown made the short trip to College Park to take on local rival Maryland. The Terrapins entered the game with revenge on their minds. In the second round of the previous year’s NCAA tournament, the Hoyas had blown out the Terps on their own court, and the likelihood that Maryland would roll over again was fairly low.

Few were expecting, though, that Georgetown would roll over the way it did in a match of the No. 10 and No. 11 teams in the country. Rodgers was a paltry 1-of-12 from the field, while Georgetown was outrebounded by a huge margin and made only seven shots in the second half. Still, Williams-Flournoy wasn’t fazed.

“We don’t rebound well — we’re small — these are all things we have to deal with,” she said after the game. “But we can focus on what we do well. We press well, and Maryland handled that. Sugar won’t have these types of nights. A lot of what happened tonight typically won’t, and we need to focus on getting better at what we do.”

HITTING THEIR STRIDE:

NO. 17 GEORGETOWN 71, NO. 7 MIAMI 46

The Hoyas lost their next game — a tough 11-point decision at LSU — but Williams-Flournoy was proven correct when her team subsequently proceeded to reel off 11 straight wins. Many of those wins came against cupcake teams, but not all: Georgetown traveled to Miami and laid a 71-46 beatdown on the seventh-ranked Hurricanes in its final game before Christmas, a win that was overlooked by many because of its timing but that may have been the best of the year for the Blue and Gray.

“They were averaging 81 points per game, and we were only giving up 51 points per game,” Williams-Flournoy said at the time. “We continued to preach over the past 10 days that if we could play defense, we would win.”

The theme of defensive intensity was consistent throughout the extended winning streak, during which Georgetown never gave up more than 60 points and even held some opponents below 40. It was the offense, however, that stole the show in the last few games of the run.

The Hoyas traveled north to Hanover, N.H., to take part in Dartmouth’s Blue Sky Classic. While they were undoubtedly the favorites, few could have predicted just how dominant the Blue and Gray would be. Rodgers went off for 34 points against Vermont and a career-high 39 against Dartmouth, outscoring her opponents’ entire roster in the latter game.

“We’ve seen Sugar do this before. We’ve seen her shoot the lights out,” Williams-Flournoy said. “But what people don’t realize is that Sugar does so much more. She rebounds, she gets steals, she plays defense. She just played an all-around game.”

BIG EAST BLOWOUT:

NO. 3 UCONN 80, NO. 14 GEORGETOWN 38

The conference schedule brought Georgetown back to earth in the worst way. The Hoyas continued to pick up wins, most notably a blowout of No. 20 Rutgers in late January, but most of the Big East’s ranked teams — DePaul, Notre Dame, Louisville, St. John’s — beat the Blue and Gray with ease.

Perhaps the worst of these losses came in an early February trip to Storrs, Conn., to take on third-ranked UConn. The Huskies were undoubtedly better on paper, but, then again, Williams-Flournoy had shown herself capable of outfoxing Geno Auriemma with her tough defensive strategy the previous year.

That didn’t happen this time. Freshman Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 23 points off the bench, and UConn crushed Georgetown, 80-38, for its 99th consecutive home win. Licking their wounds, the Hoyas went on to win three straight games, but there was no underestimating the confidence-killer of losing a 42-point decision to a conference rival.

“There’s nothing we can do about this game now,” Williams-Flournoy said then. “We can’t go back and grab it.”

OUT LIKE A LAMB:

WEST VIRGINIA 39, NO. 12 GEORGETOWN 32

If disappointment was the byword for the season, humiliation was the takeaway from Georgetown’s postseason.

The Blue and Gray came out completely flat in the Big East tournament, scoring a measly 32 points in a loss to unranked West Virginia. They were awarded a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament and beat an overmatched Fresno State team before falling to Georgia Tech in the round of 32. Tia Magee, Rubylee Wright and the other seniors ended their impressive careers with little fanfare.

When Georgetown learned that it would be losing defensive genius Williams-Flournoy to Auburn at the end of the season, it became clearer than ever that the loss to Georgia Tech didn’t just end a season.

It ended an era.

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