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Marist-Georgetown Preview

Mar 19, 2010 - 7:15 PM By KATE HEDLIN STATS Writer

Marist (26-7) at Georgetown (25-6), 8:21 p.m. EDT

After earning its first NCAA tournament bid in 17 years and second in school history, Georgetown is looking to make a deep run during the next few weeks as the No. 5 seed.

Marist, meanwhile, hopes to take advantage of previous tournament experience to do the same as the 12th seed.

The 13th-ranked Hoyas take on the Red Foxes on Saturday in Berkeley, Calif., in the first round of the Memphis Regional on Saturday.

Georgetown (25-6) set a school record for victories and boasted an 18-game winning streak Nov. 21-Jan. 23 which brought the Hoyas into the national spotlight. They are making their first tournament appearance since 1993, when they advanced to the round of 16 before losing to Virginia.

"This is incredibly exciting and it's great for the Georgetown program," coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "I haven't made this happen on my own. We've had a consistent coaching staff and brought some really good players to get to this point."

The Hoyas have one of the top defenses in the nation, forcing 24.7 turnovers per game to rank third in the country while holding opponents to an average of 57.8 points. Junior guard Monica McNutt, who averages 11.4 points and 3.9 rebounds, was third in the Big East with 2.4 steals per game.

Georgetown's offense may be a concern, however. After earning a double-bye to start the conference tournament, the Hoyas shot 26.5 percent in a 63-56 double-overtime loss to Rutgers in the quarterfinals. McNutt especially struggled, shooting 2 of 14 from the field for six points.

How far Georgetown advances may also hinge on the play of Sugar Rodgers, the Big East freshman of the year who averages 18.2 points.

While experiencing the NCAA tournament is a first for Georgetown's current roster, it's become commonplace for Marist (26-7), which secured a fifth straight berth.

The Red Foxes won eight of their final nine games and took the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament title for a fifth straight year with a 66-49 victory over Fairfield. They also captured the regular-season crown.

"A lot of people doubted us," tournament MVP Rachele Fitz said. "I think it gave us more heat under our skin, whatever. I think it helped having people against us."

Fitz, a senior forward, led Marist with 18.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. She has been one of the Red Foxes' most consistent players in the NCAA tournament, averaging 15.0 points and 6.3 rebounds in six games - all starts.

Marist made an impressive run when it last began the tournament in the Bay Area as the No. 13 seed in 2007, reaching the round of 16 before losing to eventual national champion Tennessee.

The Red Foxes were also a No. 12 seed last season, losing 68-61 to Virginia in the first round.

Georgetown beat Marist 74-50 on Nov. 24, 2000, in their only meeting.

The winner faces No. 4 seed Baylor or 13th-seeded Fresno State in the second round Monday.