- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 27, 2011

PHILADELPHIA | The Georgetown women’s basketball program was certain it, maybe more so than any team in the NCAA tournament field, possessed the ability to knock off redoubtable Connecticut.

The Hoyas were right - for nearly 35 minutes.

The hiccup, during which the Huskies turned a seven-point deficit into an eight-point edge, did in plucky Georgetown and put an end to its season.

“If I could take that five minutes back, I would,” forward Tia Magee said Sunday after the fifth-seeded Hoyas fell 68-63 in the Philadelphia regional semifinals at the Liacouras Center. “I would pay a million dollars just to have that five minutes back.”

It’s one of the few things Georgetown (24-11) would want to erase from its postseason experience, which featured its second appearance in the round of 16 and first since 1993.

The Hoyas handled Princeton, then ripped Maryland in College Park for some Beltway bragging rights last week. But pushing the top-seeded Huskies (35-1) was perhaps the most impressive feat of all.

Except the Hoyas found little satisfaction in a near-victory.

“Absolutely not,” senior guard Monica McNutt said. “In case you haven’t noticed, our program is on the rise. I’m extremely proud of the coaching staff and the girls that I’ve had the opportunity to play with. We’re past moral victories. We should be in the Elite Eight.”

And Georgetown would have been if not for a couple quirks and the performance of the nation’s best player. Connecticut’s Maya Moore surged late and finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Georgetown star Sugar Rodgers had 11 points on 3-for-17 shooting just five days after scoring a career-best 34 points at Maryland. The sophomore dealt with an added wrinkle in the first half, moving to point guard when Rubylee Wright picked up her second foul early.

“That was the difference for me,” Rodgers said. “I had to look for everybody else instead of looking for my shot.”

Yet even with Rodgers struggling and Wright and Adria Crawford glued to the bench for a large swath of the first half, the Hoyas led 35-32 at the break. They withstood an early UConn push, relying on stingy defense and outside shooting to keep the Huskies in check and build a 53-46 lead.

But then the Hoyas missed some layups and wedged five turnovers into a seven-possession span. Connecticut, owner of a 113-1 record over the last three seasons, exploited those errors as it so often does.

“Against a team like Connecticut, you just cannot make those kind of mistakes,” Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “When we were up by seven, you’ve got to put it up by 10, and you’ve got to put it up by 12. That’s the only way you’re really going to give yourself any kind of cushion to beat Connecticut, because they’re coming back at you.”

And so the Huskies did. Still, it was unfamiliar territory for Connecticut, which trailed at the half for only the third time this season and won an NCAA tournament game by five points or less for the first time since 2006.

The Hoyas, who lost by 10 and 16 points in two previous meetings with UConn this season, did what few teams can manage: to flummox and fluster the country’s top program.

“I think we had them on their heels,” Magee said. “I’m not saying they thought they were going to come out and smash us. They know we’re a tough team. We play them tough every single time. But I don’t think they expected that from us.”

The Huskies’ rally, though, was fully expected. Connecticut moves along to its fifth straight regional final, and Georgetown heads home.

The difference between the two, though, wasn’t vast. It was just five minutes.

“It was just one small segment in there where we didn’t score and Connecticut continued to score,” Williams-Flournoy said. “We didn’t get the stops we needed to get. I think that little small segment right there cost us the game.”



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