No. 10 Georgetown 56, Longwood 45
Sugar Rodgers and Alexa Roche looked a bit sheepish as they leaned on the podium following Georgetown's first game as a Top 10 team.
''I'll just say,'' Roche said, ''it's not a good indicator of how we're going to play on Sunday.''
Over and done was a sputtering, closer-than-expected 56-45 season-opening win over Longwood for the No. 10 Hoyas. Sunday refers to another grudge match with No. 11 Maryland, whom Georgetown beat twice last season - including an easy win in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
So were the Hoyas looking ahead?
''We attribute everything we did wrong today to early season rust,'' Roche said. ''We'll be fine on Sunday.''
The words ''early season rust'' were so much of a theme that Rodgers and Roche said them in unison. Preseason Big East first-team guard Rodgers, followed relentlessly by Longwood's Mina Jovanovic, went only 2 for 10 from the field but made all eight of her free throws to score 13 points
''Early season rust,'' Rodgers said again with a laugh. ''And she followed me everywhere. She was like a little shadow, but I'm getting that all season.''
The Hoyas have their highest ranking ever after returning four of five starters from the team that lost by only five points to Connecticut in the Sweet 16. They love to play fast and furious, but they shot only 32 percent as the Lancers (0-1) kept trying to slow the game down.
''Do you want to come out and look absolutely perfect your first game? Sure,'' Terri Williams-Flournoy said. ''But I don't think I've ever seen that happen. ... You can call it whatever you want: rust, first-game jitters. It's a `W.'''
Erin Neal and Brittanni Billups scored 14 points apiece to lead the Lancers (0-1), whose coach, Bill Reinson, took over early last season after Kristin Caruso was fired. Longwood went 7-23 last season and has never beaten a ranked team or a team from the Big East.
''Moral victories? No,'' Reinson said. ''But I told the girls in the locker room just now that they need to feel as good as they possibly can about losing a game because they came out and they battled from beginning to end.''
The Hoyas led only 29-23 at halftime despite forcing 13 turnovers, and even though Longwood didn't take a free throw until 2:30 to go before the break.
Georgetown opened the second half cold and foul-prone, scoreless for the first 4:12. The score was only 31-27 approaching the 14-minute mark when Rodgers made two free throws to start a 6-0 run that pushed the lead back to double digits.
The Lancers stayed in it, though. Neal's three-point play cut the deficit to six with 7:03 remaining, but Longwood couldn't get any closer the rest of the way and finished with 23 turnovers.
Longwood is the type of soft-schedule team the Georgetown men are notorious for scheduling early in the season, only with a bit more buildup. The men practiced in the McDonough on-campus facility until 6 p.m., leaving only an hour to set up the bleachers and otherwise prepare the gym for the Top 10 women's game. Not that there was exactly a rush to get in: The attendance was 673.
There will be a lot more attention paid to the game at College Park on Sunday.
''Ask them the questions,'' said Rodgers, referring to the Terrapins. ''We beat them last year. Twice.''
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP