The last time the GW women's basketball team invited ESPN to Smith Center to televise a marquee match-up, the game did not turn out the way the Colonials had hoped, and they fell by 25 points to Rutgers University. The game Sunday against Xavier was a different story.
No. 17 GW slid past the Musketeers 56-46 for their eighth straight victory in what might be its last true test before the postseason. Sunday's game was part of the NCAA's attendance bolstering promotion, called "Pack the House," and 3,689 fans were on hand to see the Colonials knock off one of their toughest conference rivals.
"(It was a) hard-fought game," GW coach Joe McKeown said. "Typical GW-Xavier game. They've been great match-ups since (Xavier came) into the league. Today was really no different."
Junior Jessica Adair had 15 points to lead the Colonials (13-3, 1-0 Atlantic 10) offensively, and senior Kim Beck added 12 points on four three-pointers.
Adair's 15 points came despite Xavier's Ta'Shia Phillips, the 6-foot-6 center that guarded GW's leading scorer for the majority of the game. Adair shot 4-for-10 from the floor, but also capitalized from the charity stripe, hitting seven of eight free throws.
"She's a big body and she was very physical," Adair said of Phillips. "I wasn't worried about it. I'm a big body too and very physical, so it was a great match-up and I did my job."
GW hit the floor running against Xavier, leading by as many as 15 points in the game's first half, but the Musketeers responded in the second half and cut the lead to six with twelve minutes remaining.
The Colonials responded sharply. Junior Jazmine Adair stuffed a shot from the heart of the Xavier squad, Amber Harris, and moved the ball down the court to Beck, who hit a three-pointer from the baseline and sparked a 15-2 Colonials run that put the game in GW's hands for good.
"I thought we kept our poise in the second half when they made a run," McKeown said. "When you've got Kim Beck on the floor running the show, you feel confident that we're going to handle the runs that Xavier made on us."
McKeown recognized that his team still has some things to work on, pointing to the seven-plus points more per game that GW is allowing compared to last year.
"I'm not happy at all where we are (compared to) last year," McKeown said. "I thought we were a great team last year. That team took pride in every possession defensively. This team, right now, we're still finding ourselves."
GW next takes the floor Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Rhode Island. The Rams dropped their first conference game to Massachusetts, 91-53.