By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 31, 2010; D07
Early in the second half of the Georgetown women's basketball team's game against Rutgers on Saturday, the Hoyas' male counterparts walked into McDonough Arena fresh off beating Duke. The men received a steady ovation even though the women's team is ranked No. 17 and is amid its finest season in school history.
Saturday was just another example of how the Hoyas' women's program is keeping pace with the men's team during a banner season that continued with a 59-50 victory over the Scarlet Knights. It was Georgetown's first game since its school-record 16-game winning streak was snapped by Marquette on Wednesday.
"I knew they would come back strong," Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "I knew they would hurt first, and I was going to make them hurt because I was going to show them everything they did wrong. But I knew they would come back strong from it. I told them -- and I wasn't going to tell them -- but I told them, 'We won 16 in a row. We cannot lose our minds over one loss, because we have way too many games left to play.' "
Although it's a down year for Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights' string of success in the Big East keeps them among the conference's heavyweights -- if not in record, then certainly in prestige. Georgetown (18-3, 7-1) had not beaten Rutgers (12-9, 4-3) in the previous eight attempts and secured just its third victory over the Scarlet Knights in 18 meetings.
"I think last year gave them some confidence that, 'Hey, we are getting much better, we can play with these so-called big-name teams,' " Williams-Flournoy said, referencing an overtime loss to the Scarlet Knights.
It helps the Hoyas that Sugar Rodgers is on the court. The freshman scored 18 of her 27 points in the second half. It was two points shy of her career high and she drew praise after the game from Rutgers's Hall of Fame Coach C. Vivian Stringer, who said Rodgers has "nerves of steel" and is proving that a freshman can star in the Big East.
"We've got an incredible player" in Rodgers, junior guard Monica McNutt said. "I think for a freshman to come in and be so mature as an athlete, as a player, is incredible. What you saw tonight was incredible."
During a 16-3, second-half run that put the game out of reach, Rodgers hit two three-pointers and two layups. When Williams-Flournoy was asked what held the offense back during a first half in which the Hoyas made just 20.6 percent of their field goals, she jokingly looked in Rodgers's direction.
No other Georgetown player scored in double figures, although no one else needed to score with the way Rodgers performed. Georgetown stayed in the game early on only because of a rebounding margin (the Hoyas' 15 first-half offensive rebounds matched Rutgers's total rebounds in the first half) and Rutgers's own struggles.
"It was just a matter of time for us finding the basket," said Williams-Flournoy, whose team shot 55 percent in the second half.
Saturday's win concluded the best first half of the Big East schedule in Georgetown history. While the Hoyas have accumulated wins and ascended in the rankings, they've yet to play any of the Big East's other three ranked opponents.
Those three games come in a seven-game February slate that begins Tuesday against St. John's -- and provides the women's team a head start in keeping its win total higher than its more celebrated men's counterpart.
"It's great to have both basketball teams win," McNutt said. "There's a little friendly back-and-forth about it. They won, so we don't want them to show us up."