CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Georgetown's tough defense got the best of Fresno State's high-powered offense.
Tia McGee scored 17 points and Georgetown held on to beat Fresno State 61-56 on Sunday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Adria Crawford and Sugar Rodgers added 11 points apiece for the fifth-seeded Hoyas (23-8).
They never trailed but blew most of a 17-point lead and made just four field goals during the final 15 1/2 minutes – none in the final 6 minutes – before improving to 4-0 in NCAA tournament openers.
Ki-Ki Moore scored 22 points and Rosie Moult added 12 for the 12th-seeded Bulldogs (28-6). They shot 34 percent, finished with a season-low point total and remained winless in six NCAA tournament appearances.
Still, they nearly erased that huge deficit and gave themselves several chances in the final minutes. Fresno State had the ball down by a possession on three occasions in the final 3 minutes – and turned it over each time.
With Georgetown up 59-56, Rodgers missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 28.3 seconds left, giving the Bulldogs 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.
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 after that, which 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.
She started the rally with a jumper in the lane with 15 1/2 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.
Madison Parrish added 10 points – all on free throws – for the Bulldogs.
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.