A frenetic, pressing defense has been the hallmark of the Georgetown women’s basketball team during its recent ascension to national prominence, and on Sunday, the 18th-ranked Hoyas got started right away.
That meant a long, error-filled afternoon for No. 11 Rutgers, which was no match in a 54-36 loss before 2,211 at McDonough Gym that included Hoyas senior point guard Rubylee Wright setting the school’s all-time assist record.
By the time Wright recorded assist No. 472 with 3 minutes 45 seconds to play, Georgetown was well on its way to its first victory over a ranked team since Dec. 21 and its fourth win in five games. The Hoyas had dropped three consecutive games at home to ranked teams since throttling No. 7 Miami, 71-46, four days before Christmas.
“What I told the team was we beat some ranked opponents in December, but now it’s the end of January, and at this point you need a signature win,” Georgetown Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “We really needed a signature win over a ranked opponent. I’m not going to say people forget what we did in December, but it comes to mind a little quicker when it’s something that just happened.”
Senior forward Tia McGee led the Hoyas with a game-high 21 points and made 9 of 11 shots for her most efficient shooting performance this season. She added five steals, three rebounds and two blocks.
Junior guard Sugar Rodgers scored 19 points but was just 5 for 22 from the field. The Big East’s leading scorer contributed, though, in virtually every other area, collecting six rebounds, five steals and three assists with no turnovers. She also made all seven of her foul shots.
The Hoyas (17-5, 6-3 Big East) forced 22 turnovers and limited Rutgers to 31 percent shooting, including 0 for 14 from three-point range. It was the Scarlet Knights’ second-lowest shooting percentage this season and the first time they have failed to make a three-point basket.
Georgetown had Rutgers (17-4, 6-2) off balance shortly after tip-off with a 12-0 flurry that included consecutive three-pointers from Rodgers. McGee closed the run with a jumper for a 16-8 lead, and the Hoyas followed with six consecutive points for a 22-12 buffer with 5:33 to play in the first half.
Moments later, the Scarlet Knights lost starting guard Khadijah Rushdan for the rest of the game after the senior landed hard on her head. Rutgers’s second-leading scorer lay on the court for several minutes before trying to get to her feet, but trainers had to bring out a wheelchair to assist her to the locker room.
Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer said Rushdan would be evaluated further once the team got back to Piscataway, N.J., on Sunday night.
“We were just outplayed,” Stringer said. “They were a much better team than we were today. I thought they played inspired.”
After limiting Rutgers to its fewest first-half points this season (17), the Hoyas continued to pour it on immediately after intermission with a 7-0 run that began with Rodgers’s jumper in the lane. McGee converted a three-point play and then stole the ball and sank a layup for a 33-17 lead with 18:11 to go.
The margin grew to 46-24 on seven consecutive points from Rodgers, whose commitment to defense included drawing charges on fast breaks and getting her hands on one loose ball after another.
“They say if I don’t shoot the ball, then play defense,” Rodgers said. “I got some layups, but the shooting wasn’t there, so I just played defense.”