Women’s basketball: Georgetown, Rodgers roll over Pitt

By Greg Trietley

For much of the first half of the Pitt women’s basketball team’s game against No. 19… For much of the first half of the Pitt women’s basketball team’s game against No. 19 Georgetown, just crossing the half-court line — not to mention scoring — was a challenge.

Georgetown’s press frustrated Pitt all game, and the Hoyas thumped the Panthers 82-54 in both teams’ Big East opener Wednesday night at the Petersen Events Center.

Junior guard Sugar Rodgers scored 28 points for the Hoyas (8-2, 1-0 Big East), who held Pitt to 3-for-19 from the floor to start the game. The Panthers (4-5, 0-1 Big East) had five turnovers in the game’s first five minutes, as Georgetown trapped and pressed the inexperienced group to force costly mistakes.

“We’re actually one of the only teams in the country that actually presses all 40 minutes,” Georgetown head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said after the game. “When we say we press, we press. Most teams who say they press, they press after a free throw.”

The Panthers had 24 turnovers compared to Georgetown’s 16.

Unable to do much in the paint against 6-foot-6 center Sydney Wilson, Pitt leaned on its perimeter scorers for offense, but the Panthers started 0-for-7 from 3-point range. By the time guard Abby Dowd hit Pitt’s first 3-pointer with 6:18 remaining in the first half, Georgetown had built a comfortable 29-12 lead.

Pitt had a nearly 11-minute span in which it missed 14 consecutive shots.

“Going that long a time without getting a score is tough,” sophomore center Leeza Burdgess said. “We were getting stops, finally getting our defense together, and then it’s a little disappointing that the shots that you get weren’t going in.”

The Panthers finished 1-for-21 from 3-point range and shot 26.7 percent overall.

At the other end, Georgetown found soft spots in Pitt’s zone, with senior forward Tia Magee attacking the rim and using quick passes to free Rodgers and Taylor Brown at guard. The pair’s strong play forced the Panthers to switch out of zone to start the second half.

Georgetown finished with 20 assists on 29 baskets. Magee and Brown each had 12 points.

Pitt head coach Agnus Berenato generated some momentum for the team in the second half when she put Burdgess and freshman forward Cora McManus on the court together. But Georgetown’s defense proved too dominant, and the Hoyas pulled away by out-battling Pitt for loose balls.

Burdgess finished with 10 points and seven rebounds in her first start of the season, and McManus had three points and six rebounds.

“I’m so excited for [Burdgess] as a first-time starter,” Berenato said after the game. “Leeza just worked so hard in the last couple of weeks. Leeza made us put her in the lineup.”

Sophomore Asia Logan had a career-high 15 points off the bench in the loss. She played power forward against the Hoyas after playing small forward on Pitt’s recent road trip.

“Asia really has been versatile for us, almost like a utility player,” Berenato said. “We needed her quickness at the four, and I said, ‘Asia, I need to have you at the four,’ and she said, ‘No problem.’”

Pitt won’t play another Big East game for nearly a month. Villanova hosts the Panthers on Jan. 3 at 7 p.m.

Berenato said that she will continue to have a difficult early-season schedule because that is what is best for the Panthers in the long run.

“You all know what the Big East is,” she said. “But if we’re going to play, and we’re going to take it on the chin, I want my student-athletes to play against the best and not have any false perception of what it’s like. We have a goal that one day we want to win big. This crew, when they’re juniors and seniors, can do that. But they can’t do that if we go 10-0 and then play in the Big East.”