NCAA women’s tournament 2012: Georgetown seniors trying to reach ultimate goal
By Gene Wang,
The Georgetown women’s basketball team doesn’t want for pluck, that’s for sure. How else to explain grand proclamations from the Hoyas and a surplus of confidence heading into the NCAA tournament following consecutive losses in which they combined to score 77 points?
Never mind Georgetown shot 26 for 127 in those beatings, the first by a score of 54-45 against St. John’s on senior day at McDonough Gym and most recently 39-32 to West Virginia in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.
But there was Rubylee Wright, all 5 feet 3 of her, addressing the Hoyas’ offensive travails without the slightest hint of doubt that fifth-seeded Georgetown (22-8) would recapture its game by Sunday, when it plays No. 12 seed Fresno State (28-5) in the first round in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“I feel like we’re better than any team in the country,” said Wright, who this season became the school’s career leader in assists. “We’re good enough to be there, so I don’t dwell on anything.”
“There” means the Final Four in Denver, and as soon as the senior point guard said the Hoyas belong, teammate Tia Magee offered an emphatic “Ooooh,” clearly enticed by the prospect of reaching college basketball’s pinnacle during the final few weeks of her career.
Magee and Wright have been fixtures in the lineup since they began playing for Georgetown, and their moxie in large part comes from Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy and former player Monica McNutt, both of whom last season trumpeted Georgetown as the class of women’s basketball in the Washington metropolitan area.
That got the attention of Maryland, which has been the gold standard locally since winning the national championship in 2005-06 and advancing to the region finals two other times. The teams played in the second round of last season’s NCAA tournament, and the Hoyas romped, 79-57, at Comcast Center to advance to the region semifinals for the second time in program history.
Having moved one step closer to the Final Four in each of the past two seasons, the Hoyas’ senior class has admitted this time to peeking ahead for a possible run at some of the prohibitive favorites, including undefeated Baylor, which is the No. 1 seed in Georgetown’s Des Moines Region.
Considering how far Georgetown’s program has ascended in a short time, such aspirations don’t seem as extravagant anymore. The Hoyas had reached just one NCAA tournament in the program’s 38 seasons before 2008-09, when this group of seven seniors arrived.
“My other friends went to Baylor and other big schools, and they were like, ‘Tia, why Georgetown?’ ” said Magee, a native of Tulsa. “It was so hard to explain why. I always wanted to go to a program and make my own legend and build a program and make it something. We’ve actually accomplished that here.”
Among the other seniors who have contributed significantly include forward Adria Crawford (Edison High School), second behind Magee in rebounding, and guard Alexa Roche, second on the team in blocks and third in three-pointers.
Of the eight players who average double-figure minutes, five are seniors. Reserves Tommacina McBride and Amanda Reese, both seniors, have played in 29 and 27 games, respectively, this season.
“Geez, I wasn’t even thinking about them leaving,” junior guard Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown’s leading scorer who recently was voted unanimous first-team all-Big East, said of the seniors. “I’m thinking they’re still going to be here next year, so the tournament’s going to be great. We’re going to play every game like it’s their last game.”
Then Rodgers cleared her throat with an authoritative “Ahem!” before smiling and glaring in the direction of Magee and Wright.
“I’m not going to lie. I get emotional about it and just really, really anxious in a way that I usually don’t,” Magee said. “Just because I know I have to give it all I’ve got, or that’s it for me. Still at the same time it’s very, very exciting.”