For nearly the entire first half of Saturday's GW women's basketball game against St. Bonaventure it was the Colonials, not the Bonnies, who looked like the inexperienced team, flustered by the pressure of late-season college basketball. Poor shooting and sloppy ball-handling by GW translated into a 20-point deficit midway through the fist half.
Thankfully for the Colonials, those roles reversed in the second half and GW came back to win 66-60 on the backs its seniors.
In a game with major Atlantic 10 Tournament implications, GW answered the opening whistle flat, shooting just over 38 percent in the first half and turning the ball over 10 times, which led to a 35-26 Bonnie advantage at halftime.
The second half proved to be the stronger one for the Colonials. GW scored 40 points while locking down on defense, allowing the Bonnies to shoot only 29 percent from the floor in the half.
The Colonials were led by senior starters Yolanda Lavender, Jessica Adair and Antelia Parrish, all of whom scored in double figures. Adair contributed her usual double double, contributing 15 points to go with her 12 boards and Parrish broke out of a slump with a 20-point performance, five short of her season high. Lavender rounded out the top scorers with 19.
Head coach Mike Bozeman was happy to see his seniors step up and show their experience in a pivotal late-season game.
"When (Director of Athletics) Jack (Kvancz) hired me, he didn't want to have a drop off," Bozeman said. "These girls were a part of that. These seniors were a part of those back-to-back Sweet 16 years. So there's some pride that's coming out right now."
For GW, the win could mean the difference in getting a first round bye in March's A-10 tournament. Coming into the game, the Colonials were in a three-way tie for second place with St. Bonaventure and Temple.
With the victory, GW's chances of getting the bye that comes with finishing first or second in the conference greatly increase. Temple will face No. 17/16 Xavier at home Wednesday before traveling to Washington to play the Colonials March 1.
The significance of getting a win Saturday wasn't lost on Colonial players, especially seniors looking to put themselves in position for a third-straight NCAA tournament run.
"You know, we struggled throughout the season," Parrish said. "So we know that if we make a good run towards the end, then we'll come in second place in the A-10, so that's what we're trying to do."
Getting big performances out of his seniors like he did Saturday will be a great help to Bozeman, as he tries to teach his young backcourt how to play in big games on the fly.
"They're showing the freshmen how to do it," he said of his seniors. "What it is, is like it's in a classroom. They're teaching them what it takes."
Still, Bozeman wants to keep his team focused on its two final regular-season games and not on any postseason play.
"Right now, all that's in the backburner," Bozeman said. "Right now, it's about everybody's 0-0, and we need to win these games and play up to our potential. And I fully believe that's where we're headed. You haven't seen the best yet."