Everything Comes Together for Lady Hoyas in Defeat of Maryland
Sugar Rodgers' career-high 34 points underscore special night
Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 22:03
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Late in the first half as the shot clock expired, a double-teamed Sugar Rodgers let fly a prayer of a hook shot from well behind the men's three-point line. The ball sailed over two Maryland defenders, banked off the glass, and against all odds, found the bottom of the net. The star sophomore shrugged her shoulders and grinned while trotting down the court.
It was just that kind of night.
The No. 5-seed Lady Hoyas wiped the floor with the No. 4-seed Terrapins on their own court Tuesday night, 79-57. Rodgers scored a career-high 34 points, including seven three-pointers, and pulled down nine rebounds in her most masterful performance wearing the Blue and Gray.
"This young lady is an incredible player," senior guard Monica McNutt said of her young teammate. "We've said plenty of times in our locker room that we're glad she's in a Georgetown uniform. There's not too many things you can do to stop her."
Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy's arsenal of manic full-court, three-quarter-court and half-court presses kept the hosts from getting in a rhythm all night. The Terps shot 31.6 percent from the field and turned the ball over 20 times.
"Credit to Georgetown, I think they did a phenomenal job on the defensive end today," Maryland junior center Lynetta Kizer said. "They forced us to play a game that wasn't Maryland basketball."
The Blue and Gray set the tone in the first few minutes of the game, harassing the Terrapins with their press and scoring 11 points before their opponents could even get on the scoreboard.
"They took us out of our rhythm early, so it was really hard to get back in our rhythm," Maryland junior guard Anjale Barrett said. "Our defense kept breaking down and that usually leads to our offense, and we just couldn't really get in sync."
Maryland's significant size advantage was one of Georgetown's biggest concerns entering the game. Although the Lady Hoyas won the cross-town battle at McDonough Arena last November, the Terps pulled down a whopping 63 rebounds in that contest. While that disparity was still noticeable at times Tuesday night — Maryland still had 19 offensive boards — Georgetown did a surprisingly good job on the glass.
Another of the Lady Hoyas' trouble spots coming into Tuesday's matchup was bench play; the bench managed a grand total of two points against Princeton in the first round. The Blue and Gray knew they could rely on Rodgers and usually McNutt to score, but what would happen when either or both was in foul trouble?
If those fears were not totally dispelled Tuesday night, they were at least alleviated. Junior guard Alexa Roche had a huge 10 points, chipping in key baskets when the Terps defense was focusing on Rodgers. Freshman forward Andrea White did not score but effectively defended Maryland's larger posts and grabbed six rebounds in her 19 minutes.
"It was our bench that came in to help us because we got into a little bit of foul trouble," Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "I thought Alexa Roche came in and did an unbelievable job for us coming off the bench. And then our freshman, Andrea White, came in and rebounded the ball like we needed her to do."
Tuesday night marked one of the only times this year that the Lady Hoyas played a truly complete game. They showed the ability to catch fire occasionally earlier this season but rarely combined good shooting with a truly dominant, 40-minute defensive performance. If Georgetown is able to stay anywhere near this hot, Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies should start sweating.
"Sugar's whispering to me, ‘The third time's the charm,' " McNutt said of the team's impending Sweet 16 matchup with No. 1 Connecticut. "However, I think that in our league teams respect one another, and I think UConn respects us in a certain way because we've played them tough in the past. They're humans. They're a great team, it's no secret, but they're humans. They've gone down. Why can't we be the team to take them down again?"
UConn certainly looms large, but for today the Lady Hoyas can bask in their defeat of Maryland. It was at once organized and chaotic, physical and graceful, surreal and, somehow, not that shocking. Most of all, Georgetown's convincing victory — which sends the Lady Hoyas to their second Sweet 16 in school history and their first since 1993 — was an affirmation of the innovative defensive strategy Williams-Flournoy implemented a few years ago.
"They really believe in what we do," Williams-Flournoy said of her players. "We're a pressing team that presses all game long."
Sugar Rodgers might have helped a little, too.