March 8, 2013
HARTFORD, Conn. - The Georgetown University women's basketball squad (15-15) started strong in the opening round of the BIG EAST Championship Friday evening with an 81-61 victory over the Providence College Friars (7-23) at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The 11th-seeded Hoyas used a big second half to overcome a hot shooting night by the 14th-seeded Friars. Georgetown will face sixth-seeded Villanova University tomorrow in the second round of the championship at 8 p.m.
"We won and we hadn't won in a while, I thought our girls played hard coming off of three losses," said Georgetown Head Coach Keith Brown. "We really defended, we rebounded and we shared the ball and when we do that we're a pretty good team."
The paint was the key for the Blue & Gray in the first half as the Hoyas made an impact down low. Leading 11-9 on a layup from junior forward Andrea White (Lancaster, Va./Lancaster), Georgetown staged a 12-0 run that spanned five minutes to make the score 23-9. The run included six points by freshman forward Ki-Ke Rafiu (Offa, Nigeria/Saints Neuman-Goretti).
The Friars' Tori Rule began to get hot from beyond the arc as she hit to cut the lead to seven, 33-26, with 1:29 remaining.
However, a pair of late layups from senior center Sydney Wilson (Silver Spring, Md./St. John's College Prep) and freshman forward Dominique Vitalis (Bloomfield, N.J./Gill St. Bernard) made it 37-28 at the break in favor of the Blue & Gray.
Rebounding made a difference in the first as Georgetown outrebounded Providence, 22-17, with eight on the offensive glass. Rule had five 3-pointers in the first.
The Friars cut it to four early in the second, but once again it was the low post that proved to be the answer for the Blue & Gray as Wilson kept GU ahead.
The Hoyas maintained the small advantage as the half continued when both teams went cold at 44-37.
After a quiet first half, senior shooting guard Sugar Rodgers (Suffolk, Va./King's Fork) got her own rebound and the put back to end the drought and take a nine-point lead at 14:45.
Rule continued to hit, as Rodgers heated up and the pace quickened. The senior scored six-consecutive points as the Hoya offense worked to counter Rule on the other end.
Rafiu pulled down an offensive rebound at the seven-minute mark and made the put back to give Georgetown the 14-point lead, 65-51, for the team's largest lead of the game. This was part of a 12-2 run from Rafiu and Rodgers as the Blue & Gray began to pull away.
Despite Rule's hot hand, down the stretch, the Hoya defense managed to stop the rest of the Friars and maintain a significant lead.
Late in the game, Providence just didn't have an answer as the Blue & Gray cruised to the 81-61 victory.
It marked the first BIG EAST Tournament victory for Brown in his first season at the helm. The win was also Georgetown's largest BIG EAST Tournament win since the 1995 season when the squad defeated Boston College, 84-60.
Rodgers led the Hoyas with 26 points, including 21 in the second half, and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season, along with six assists. Rafiu had a career night as well with 14 points and 10 boards. White and Wilson both added 10 as four Hoyas scored in double figures.
The Hoyas outrebounded the Friars, 47-33, and shot an impressive 50.8 percent while holding PC to just 29.0 percent from the field and forcing 15 turnovers.
Rule led the way for Providence with 35 points including 10 3-pointers which set a new BIG EAST Championship record.
Georgetown will face sixth-seeded Villanova University on Saturday evening at 8 p.m., in the second round of the tournament. The game will be televised live through the BIG EAST Network. Fans can watch it locally on MASN or SNY. Live stats will also be available at the conference's Championship Central.