Two games into the season, the No. 25 Georgetown women’s basketball team (2-0, 0-0 Big East) is already making history. The Hoyas opened their season this weekend with wins over Sacred Heart and No. 17 Delaware, in the process advancing to the semifinals of the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament for the first time.

Georgetown began the season Friday in a 90-63 thrashing of Sacred Heart (0-1, 0-0 Northeast) at McDonough Arena, a win that represented the first in Head Coach Keith Brown’s tenure. Brown is just the second coach in program history to win in his coaching debut.

The Hoyas dominated the Pioneers by taking advantage of the visitors’ relative lack of size and strength. Georgetown outrebounded Sacred Heart, 54-39, and outscored the Pioneers by a 50-10 margin in the paint.

“Basketball is supposed to be played [inside out]. We have great inside players,” Brown said. “[Senior guard] Sugar [Rodgers] is always going to be able to get her shot, but the more we pound the ball inside, her shot gets easier.”

From the opening tip, the Blue and Gray were in control. They quickly opened a seven-point lead before Sacred Heart responded with a six-point run to cut it to 7-6.

That was the closest the Pioneers would come, though, as the Hoyas then went on a 26-13 spurt to take a 33-19 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the first half. In the closing minutes of the first half, Georgetown would extend upon its lead and enter halftime with a 47-24 advantage.

In the second half, the Hoyas continued to overwhelm the much smaller Pioneers, although sloppy play by the hosts led to 11 second-half points off turnovers. Despite that carelessness, the Hoyas were able to extend upon their lead, and as the final buzzer sounded, Georgetown had defeated Sacred Heart by a staggering 27 points.

The Blue and Gray were led by the phenomenal play of junior forward Andrea White, who scored 24 points and chipped in seven boards and five steals.

“I think that Andrea is one of those kids that is coming into her own her junior year. She played behind those seniors last year,” Brown said. “I told her that if she could give us a whole year, she could be one of the most improved players in the league.”

Rodgers also contributed a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

“I think her game is at a different level,” Brown said of Rodgers, who was a preseason All-American. “She can do it all now — she can score the basketball, rebound the basketball and she can be a great leader on and off the floor.”

Despite the wide margin of victory, the Georgetown defense turned in a subpar performance, especially in transition.

“We must play better defense. One of our goals was not to give up more than 60 points, and we gave up 63,” Brown said. “Our motto is to defend, rebound and share the ball, and we didn’t do a great job of defending in the second half.”

Regardless,  the win advanced Georgetown to play Delaware in the second round of the WNIT, and they went on to upset the Blue Hens — who were without All-American senior forward Elena Delle Donne — with a 62-56 win. The Blue and Gray handed Delaware its first regular season loss in 18 contests and its first home loss in 15 games.

“[Delle Donne not playing] is one of the factors why [Delaware] probably played so hard. Delaware wanted to show everyone in the country and us at Georgetown that it can play without her,” Brown said.

Even though they did not have to get past Delle Donne, the victory is a definite resume-booster for Georgetown.

“A win like that [moves you up] in the rankings,” Rodgers said. “That is all I was thinking about the whole time.”

Rodgers was in control of the game from the tip-off, scoring Georgetown’s first eight points and giving her team the early 8-0 lead. But Delaware quickly responded and cut the advantage to one after an 8-1 run.

It still wasn’t until just over three minutes remained in the first half that Delaware took its first lead at 23-22, one that, seconds later, it extended to three points.

Georgetown would tie it up again at 28-28 soon after, but the Blue Hens drained two free throws and took a 30-28 advantage into halftime.

The Hoyas opened a five-point lead after the intermission, led by Rodgers’ seven straight points. Georgetown’s strong defense helped it maintain the lead until a three-pointer by Delaware with 6:33 left in the second half tied the game at 44.

But the Hoyas responded quickly, and sophomore guard Jasmine Jackson’s jumper put them up for good.

Down the stretch, clutch free-throw shooting and solid defense put Georgetown in position to pick up the 62-56 win. Rodgers led all scorers with a staggering 35 points — the most points an individual has ever put up against the Blue Hens.
“[The defensive effort] was much better. We have to play that way. We are an up-and-down team, a transition team. We want to be regarded as a defensive team. We want to be able to hold people and put as much pressure on them as we can,” Brown said. “We caused 22 turnovers, and we were in foul trouble, so we couldn’t get the pressure that we normally do full court, but we did a great job in the half court.”

With the win, the Hoyas moved into the national polls and advance to the semifinals of the WNIT. Georgetown will take on North Carolina on Wednesday in Chapel Hill. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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