The Georgetown women’s basketball team knew it would have to play nearly perfect on Wednesday night to have any chance of beating third-ranked Connecticut, especially four days after the seven-time national champions lost for the first time this season.
The Hoyas were far from that in the early stages at McDonough Gym, but a burst shortly before intermission combined with uncharacteristically sloppy play from their opponent gave Georgetown a glimmer in its Big East home opener.
But the Huskies stamped out any notion of an upset behind a barrage of three-pointers to open the second half in a 75-48 victory to avoid falling to 0-2 in the conference for the time since 1985-86. Connecticut also extended its streak of not losing consecutively to 707 games.
“I think they came out and played really hard,” Hoyas senior center Sydney Wilson said. “I think we played really hard as well, but I think that they capitalized on our turnovers. We were kind of killing ourselves in a way.”
The Hoyas (10-4, 1-1 Big East), meantime, matched their lowest point total this season and lost for a 28th consecutive time to Connecticut despite a game-high 23 points from senior guard Sugar Rodgers. Georgetown’s last victory in the series came on Feb. 27, 1993, during a season in which it advanced to the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 for the first time in program history.
Within 31-22 with 3 minutes 48 seconds to play in the first half following two foul shots from Rodgers, Georgetown unraveled against full-court pressure while the Huskies began sinking three-pointers. Kelly Faris’s three-pointer at the buzzer ended the first half, and Connecticut added six more in the first seven minutes after the break to build a 62-37 lead.
“I think that was the turning point,” Georgetown Coach Keith Brown said. “Anytime you’re playing a team tough like U-Conn., the first five minutes in the second half is the most important time, and our girls knew that. They understood what it was about. We just didn’t quite get over the hump.”
The Hoyas flirted with trimming the margin to less than 20 when Rodgers first made a free throw and then sank a three-pointer while being fouled. But the leading scorer in the country entering the game missed the bonus free throw, and Connecticut was ahead by 62-41 with 10:15 to play.
From there, freshman Breanna Stewart, the national high school player of the year, scored 10 straight points for the Huskies (13-1, 1-1), who had four players reach double figures. Faris led the way with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting, including 4 of 7 three-pointers, and added four rebounds, four assists and five steals.
The Huskies made 12 three-pointers, the most Georgetown has allowed this season, and forced the Hoyas into a season-high 26 turnovers off which Connecticut scored 30 points. Georgetown also shot 31 percent and missed 11 of 19 free throws, including its first five in a row to open the game.
The Hoyas had four players miss all their shots from the field. Junior guard Samisha Powell was 0 for 7 with six turnovers, and sophomore forward Brittany Horne went 0 for 6, all on three-pointers, and committed five turnovers.
Rodgers was the only Georgetown player to hit double figures, although she needed 22 shots to do so with Faris guarding much of the game. The three-time first-team all-Big East selection did have a team-high nine rebounds with two steals but was one of four Hoyas with at least five turnovers.
“We forced a lot of tough shots, and she made a lot of incredibly difficult shots,” Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma said of Rodgers. “We weren’t really concerned with how many shots anybody else would get. We just felt like their points, their assists, anything good that was going to happen to Georgetown tonight was going to be because of Sugar.”