COLLEGE PARK — — The fifth-seeded Georgetown women's basketball team was plenty vocal in the days leading up to its second-round NCAA tournament game against Maryland. The Hoyas brashly dismissed their opponent's tradition as inconsequential and proclaimed a shift was at hand in area women's basketball supremacy.
On Tuesday night, Georgetown presented a most convincing case on the home court of the 2006 national champions, rattling the fourth-seeded Terrapins with relentless pressure and getting another dazzling performance from Sugar Rodgers in a 79-57 dismantling before an announced 4,493 at Comcast Center.
Rodgers was almost unguardable, making seven of 10 3-pointers on the way to a career-high 34 points, to thrust Georgetown into its first berth in the round of 16 in just the school's third NCAA tournament appearance. The Hoyas will play top-ranked Connecticut on Sunday at the Liacouras Center in the Philadelphia Region.
"We came out with an agenda," Georgetown senior guard Monica McNutt said. "We believe in ourselves. For some reason, we keep hearing people don't believe in us and weren't taking us seriously ... so absolutely, we had a little chip on our shoulders. We had something to prove."
Georgetown (24-10) left no doubt about that just seconds after the opening tip, when McNutt stole the ball from junior point guard Anjalé Barrett at midcourt on the first possession of the game.
That led to a 3-pointer by Rodgers that triggered an 11-0 run. After Maryland rallied to tie the score at 14, Georgetown made four straight 3-pointers and then closed the half on an 11-3 run.
The Hoyas continued to pile on with an 11-2 burst to begin the second half that included a pair of 3-pointers by McNutt. Maryland (24-8) never got closer than 16 the rest of the way.
"Obviously it was a tough night for us," Terrapins coach Brenda Frese said. "Very difficult for us to try to get into any kind of rhythm. Credit obviously goes to Georgetown. They had a sensational night shooting the basketball."
Georgetown shot 13-for-25 from 3-point range, including 4-for-7 by McNutt (14 points), and junior guard Alexa Roche added 10 points that included a pair of 3s.
It became abundantly clear, however, this was to be Rodgers' night when, with the shot clock expiring late in the first half, she banked in an acrobatic 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 40-24 lead. On her way back on defense, she simply shrugged her shoulders and smiled as if in disbelief herself.
Shortly after intermission, Rodgers had the ball on a fast break with only guard Dara Taylor between her and the basket. But rather than driving to the basket for a layup attempt, she pulled up with the rest of her teammates still trailing and drained another 3-pointer. That expanded the lead to 51-28 with 16:32 to play and effectively ended the competitive portion of the game.
Virtually all that was left to sort out was whether Rodgers would set a personal mark for single-game scoring, and she did that with a layup with 3:06 to play that made it 71-49. Rodgers' previous high was 30 points, and she finished 10-for-16 shooting, 7-for-8 from the foul line and added nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in 36 minutes.
"I told you we weren't scared," Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "I thought our team came out right from the jump and let our pressure defense dictate our offense. I told our girls in the locker room that if we made shots, we could easily get into our press."
Rarely was Maryland able to withstand that pressure, and as a result the Terrapins have an entire offseason to evaluate what went terribly wrong in a second loss this season to their nearby adversary and just their third loss in 15 NCAA tournament games in College Park.
Georgetown had beaten Maryland, 53-45, in the second game of the season for both teams, but Tuesday's drubbing made that outcome seem rewarding. This time the Terrapins shot 32 percent, committed 20 turnovers and, perhaps most stunning, outrebounded the much smaller Hoyas by only two in the most lopsided tournament loss under Frese and their worst tournament loss overall since 1997.
The Terrapins did play most of the game without starting forward Diandra Tchatchouang, who twisted her knee three minutes in. The sophomore was trying to get around a screen and fell to the court, where she lay for several minutes before being helped to the locker room with what initially was believed to be an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
"We knew what they were going to do," Barrett said. "We were prepared for it. We face teams that pressure us just like that. They took us out of our rhythm early, so it was really hard to get back in our rhythm. Our defense kept breaking down, and that usually leads to our offense, and we just really weren't in sync."