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Georgetown Hoyas earn No. 3 seed in women's Big East tournament with win

By Mark Giannotto
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 2, 2010; D05

Years from now when the Georgetown women's basketball team reminisces about its historic 2009-10 season, the outcome of Monday night's regular season finale against the Big East's worst team will likely be a meaningless footnote. Already with more wins than any team in program history, a double bye in this weekend's Big East tournament and just one senior among their top six scorers, the Hoyas had any number of reasons to just look past Seton Hall.

That No. 12 Georgetown did the exact opposite, easily disposing of the Pirates, 71-49, in front of approximately 300 fans at McDonough Arena, may be the best sign yet that these surprising Hoyas have more in store now that March has arrived. Georgetown (25-5, 13-3) stormed out to a 27-6 lead in the game's first nine minutes, and Seton Hall never trimmed the deficit lower than 17.

"You can't start another chapter until you close one," said junior Monica McNutt (14 points). "We're extremely excited to be ranked and all that good stuff, but honestly, we want to go to the Final Four."

The victory ended a grueling nine-day stretch for Georgetown in which it played five games after last month's blizzard forced the Hoyas to reschedule its game with Jacksonville State on Thursday. Georgetown does not play again until Sunday at 8 p.m. in the Big East tournament quarterfinals, where it will be a No. 3 seed.

Whatever wear and tear they may have accrued, though, was nowhere to be found in the first half against Seton Hall (9-20, 1-15). The Hoyas got off to a blazing start thanks to a record shooting night from three-point range. Averaging just six threes per contest this season, Georgetown finished with 13, including seven of its first eight baskets of the game.

Freshman Sugar Rodgers led the charge with seven baskets from beyond the arc, finishing with a game-high 24 points. McNutt added four more three-pointers, while sophomore Alexa Roche had two.

"Moni and Sug shot the lights out of the ball," Georgetown Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "But they're capable of shooting that well, so it's not that surprising to us because we see it in practice."

Rodgers, the Hoyas' leading scorer this season, moved up to sixth all-time and is now just 65 points behind Kris Witfill's single-season scoring record, set in 1990-91. Witfill, coincidentally, was a member of Georgetown's last NCAA tournament team in 1993, when the Hoyas made a run to the round of 16. That 17-year drought will likely come to an end in less than two weeks when the NCAA tournament field is announced.

How they fare there is still up for debate. In Williams-Flournoy's six seasons on the Hilltop, Georgetown has never won a Big East tournament game, even last year when the Hoyas finished with a solid 20-14 record.

Don't tell Georgetown that, though. After playing her final game at home, senior Jaleesa Butler shook off that dubious statistic, still in disbelief that the only team in front of Georgetown in the Big East standings is mighty Connecticut. She doesn't want the dream to end.

"I'm gonna change my name, have a whole new four-year contract," she said as her coach laughed in the background. "I don't think any of us predicted we were gonna be this good this year."

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