Fresno St women fall to Georgetown 61-56 in NCAAs

JOEDY McCREARY AP Sports Writer Published:

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- After erasing most of a deep deficit, Fresno State gave itself several chances to tie its first-round game against Georgetown.

The Bulldogs turned it over each time.

Ki-Ki Moore scored 22 points but Fresno State kept giving the ball back to Georgetown at the most inopportune times during a 61-56 loss Sunday in the Des Moines Regional.

"We just couldn't find that weakness (in the Hoyas' defense) to get over the top," coach Adrian Wiggins said.

No. 12 seed Fresno State (28-6) trailed by 17 with 15½ minutes left but stormed back. Three times in the final 3 minutes, the Bulldogs had the ball down by three -- and they gave it right back each time.

The last time was the toughest to take. With Georgetown up 59-56, Sugar Rodgers missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 28.3 seconds left to give Fresno State one last chance. But Taylor Thompson's pass to the corner went off teammate Bree Farley's hands and out of bounds with 17.9 seconds remaining.

"We struggled a little bit, but at the end we were able to just finish it off," Georgetown's Tia Magee said.

Magee scored 17 points, and Adria Crawford and Rodgers added 11 points apiece for the fifth-seeded Hoyas (23-8), who never trailed. They made just four field goals during the final 15½ minutes -- none in the final 6 minutes -- but forced 19 turnovers and held the Bulldogs to 7-of-29 shooting from 3-point range to improve to 4-0 in NCAA tournament openers.

"We either want to force teams to turn the ball over, or we want to force team to play quicker than they probably really want to play," Georgetown coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "We knew Fresno State was going to shoot the 3. That's not any secret. The fact that they took only 29 was actually good, because I told my team they would take 40."

Fresno State's Rosie Moult added 12 points, but was just 3 of 14 from 3-point range. The Bulldogs shot 34 percent, finished with a season-low point total and remained winless in six NCAA tournament appearances.

Georgetown came in with one of the nation's best defenses, allowing an average of fewer than 52 points, but figured to receive a test from a Fresno State offense that averaged 75.5 points and had been held to fewer than 60 points only twice.

For a huge chunk of the game, it was all Hoyas. They took their largest lead when Rubylee Wright hit a 3 from the corner to make it 46-29 with 15:45 to play.

But they went cold, and that allowed the Bulldogs to rally.

Moore, the Western Athletic Conference player of the year, scored nine points during the 24-10 run that erased most of that huge deficit.

"We started limiting their second shots and also playing faster," Moore said. "We moved faster in transition and we got open looks."

She started the rally with a jumper in the lane with 15½ minutes left, hit one of her team's three 3s during that spurt and closed it with consecutive buckets from close range. Her fast-break layup pulled Fresno State to 56-53 with just under 5 minutes left.

"With Fresno State and a team that shoots 3s, they're always going to be in the game," Williams-Flournoy said.

Madison Parrish added 10 points -- all on free throws -- for the Bulldogs.

"I think we've got confidence that we can play up with teams like Georgetown," Moult said.

Georgetown entered the tournament on a two-game losing streak that included a loss to West Virginia in the Big East quarterfinals in which the Hoyas managed just 32 points.

They had more than that by halftime of this one, despite missing 13 of 14 shots over an 8-minute period.

Rodgers gave Georgetown its first double-figure lead when she buried a 3-pointer from the corner with about 20 seconds left before the break to make it 33-21.