Sugar Rodgers broke the single-game record for points at the Big East Tournament on Saturday, with a little hope from Villanova Coach Harry Perretta.
Villanova Coach Harry Perretta is no stranger to controversial record breaking. When Nykesha Sales was a senior at UConn, she missed the Huskies’ final regular season game against the Wildcats due to injury, but Perretta arranged with Geno Auriemma to put Sales in the game so that she could score the two points she needed to break the school’s all-time record.
Perretta was back at the center of a similar event on Saturday night. Villanova had its second round game against Georgetown wrapped up by halftime, and midway through the second half broke the Big East Tournament record for 3-pointers in a game, when the Wildcats hit their 15th (they finished with 17).
Meanwhile for Georgetown, senior Sugar Rodgers, one of the conference’s most respected players, was carrying the offense. When she broke her career high with her 40th point with just under one minute to play, Coach Keith Brown decided to pull his star to give her the ovation she deserved.
But was it premature?
What Brown did not know is that Rodgers was just one point shy of tying the tournament record for points in a single game.
Perretta knew, and he wanted to make sure Rodgers got her shot.
“I had no idea,” Brown said of Rodgers proximity to the record. “Harry’s yelling and screaming at me, getting my attention. I’m trying to figure out, ‘What is he yelling and screaming at?’”
When Perretta finally got Brown’s attention, Rodgers returned to the game, and Villanova fouled her to put her on the line for one last chance. There, she sank both free throws to break the record, and then left the court to a rousing ovation, one fitting for a player of Rodgers’ caliber.
“I thought she deserved a shot,” Peretta said. “She played so well. We fouled her and she had to go earn it at the foul line. If she had missed it, I wouldn’t have fouled again. I told her her she had one shot at it and that was it.”
Rodgers impact on the game, especially at Georgetown, cannot be undersold, and Brown could not stop talking about the tremendous player that is now turning her sights to the WNBA.
“What Sugar has meant probably can’t be articulated in just simple words,” Brown said. “You know, I love her as a player and I love her as a student at Georgetown, but I also love her like a daughter.”
Villanova defeated Georgetown 89-58, and will play Syracuse tomorrow in the Quarterfinals.