By Kathy Orton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 31, 2010; D03
After back-to-back losses this month, Georgetown Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy challenged her players. She told them not to lose any more games the rest of December.
The No. 19 Hoyas responded by not only winning their next five games but also by crushing each of those opponents. With its 75-54 victory over Clemson on Thursday night at McDonough Arena, Georgetown finished off 2010 with a 12-3 record and made its coach happy.
"They got their goal. Didn't I say they had to be 12 and 3?" Williams-Flournoy said. "I think we've got them back hungry again. They understand a little bit more of what it is that we're trying to do. We have to be aggressive at all times. I just didn't think earlier, and mainly in our two losses, we just weren't going as hard as we needed to. And I told this team, that's one thing nobody will ever say is that we don't go hard."
Since losing to Miami and Rutgers, Georgetown has won its past five games by an average margin of 24.4 points. And by beating Clemson (6-8), the Hoyas improved to 4-1 against ACC teams this season.
"We are realizing as a team how hard we have to play," Tia Magee said. "In the past, we would get up by 20, teams would come back, then we'd have to get up by some more points. Now we're realizing we have to get up and stay up. We don't let them stick around."
Georgetown didn't start off the game particularly well. The Hoyas missed 14 of their first 22 shots. And although they were forcing Clemson into turnovers (21 for the game), the Lady Tigers were making 52 percent of the shots they were taking. As a result, Clemson took the lead briefly midway through the first half.
"I told them at halftime I thought we were rushing," Williams-Flournoy said. "We just had to slow down a little bit. I guess I got them going too fast."
Toward the end of the first half and in the beginning of the second half, Georgetown found its patience and used a 16-3 run to take control of the game. Then Sugar Rodgers delivered the coup de grace during a four-minute span between the first and second scheduled timeouts after halftime.
Rodgers scored 13 of the Hoyas' 15 points as they built their lead to 68-35. She made her first five field goal attempts of the second half and didn't miss a shot until four minutes remained in the game. Rodgers finished with 28 points in 25 minutes, going 11 of 16 from the floor, including 5 of 8 from three-point range.
"With a shooter, when they get in that rhythm, they can score in abundance," Williams-Flournoy said. "She just got in a rhythm."
Georgetown's Rubylee Wright, who hails from Latta, S.C., had a career game against her home state team. Wright finished with 16 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds. Wright said she was motivated to play well by a pregame incident.
"At the beginning of the game, when we were shaking hands [during the] captains' meeting, I felt a little disrespected," she said. "When we finish, we always wish each other good luck, but the girl walked off and that didn't sit too well with me."
Magee also played well for the second game in a row. After leading the Hoyas in scoring against Houston on Tuesday with 15 points, she scored in double figures again, finishing with 13 points. Magee, who missed four games earlier in the season because of knee pain, seems to be returning to form as Georgetown enters Big East play.
"Coming off an injury, it just takes awhile to get comfortable," she said. "Now I feel like Tia. I'm more comfortable."
With their nonconference schedule complete, the Hoyas now turn their attention to league play. They are 0-1 in the Big East after losing to Rutgers and will look to even their record when they host No. 24 Syracuse on Jan. 4.