No. 17 Georgetown (22-9, 10-7 Big East) battled back from an 11-point deficit in the second half of its second-round Big East tournament clash with Syracuse (22-9, 9-9 Big East), shrugging off a recent slump with a 61-60 victory on Saturday afternoon.

The Hoyas’ reward? A rematch with Maya Moore and No. 1 Connecticut, who edged past the Blue and Gray, 52-42, in a hotly contested defensive struggle exactly one week ago.

“We’re not thinking about Connecticut,” Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said to reporters after the game. “We need to cherish this moment.”

The result was representative of the recent growth of a program that had not won a Big East tournament game since 2001 and marked Williams-Flournoy’s first victory in conference tournament play.

The Hoyas scored their final nine points of the game from the charity stripe, including one make by junior guard Alexa Roche that broke a 57-57 tie and gave the Blue and Gray the lead for good with 0:17 remaining in the game. Sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers extended the advantage seconds later to give the Hoyas a two-point lead, and junior guard Rubylee Wright iced the victory with two more free throws with seven seconds left to play.

“We do this in practice every day,” Wright said to reporters about the team’s free throw shooting. “Either you make the free throw or you run. I just calmed down and focused.”

After closing the regular season with an unexpected loss at lowly South Florida, Georgetown took out its frustration against Syracuse in the opening minutes with an 11-0 run to begin the game. The Orange responded with an 18-3 run, however, holding the Hoyas scoreless for a stretch of 6:31midway through the half and taking a 27-22 lead into the locker room.

Senior guard and team leader Monica McNutt brought the Blue and Gray to within a point at 32-31 soon after the break on a trio of free throws following a foul on a three-point attempt, the Orange responded with a 10-0 to establish an 11-point lead with 14:58 remaining, but Georgetown continued to chip away at the deficit.

The Hoyas would trail for the rest of the half until Rodgers converted a pair of attempts from the stripe to give the Blue and Gray a 54-53 lead with just 3:58 remaining in the game.

Syracuse slowed down the Blue and Gray attack by focusing its defense on Rodgers — the Big East’s second-leading scorer and a unanimous selection to the all-conference first team. The standout sophomore was limited to 12 attempts from the field, but still finished with 18 points to lead the Hoyas. Wright chipped in 11 points, while McNutt, who received an all-conference honorable mention, finished with nine points.

The Orange were led by sophomore guard Elashier Hall’s 16 points, and junior guard Iasia Hemingway added 14 points — hitting 10 of 12 free throws — in the losing effort.

While Georgetown’s shooting from the field was slightly below average, points at crucial junctures came from the free-throw line, where the Hoyas shot above their season average with a 16-for-20 team effort.

The Hoyas did not allow the Orange to exploit them on the boards, hauling in 15 offensive rebounds compared to their opponents’ 10. As per usual, the Blue and Gray won the turnover battle, forcing 19 while committing just 10.

While Williams-Flournoy and her team will certainly savor the victory, there is little time to regroup before taking on the tournament favorites in the third round. Georgetown will tip-off against Connecticut at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon in Hartford, Conn.

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