Colonial Women tear through A-10 schedule

As has been its custom in recent seasons, the GW women’s basketball team started this season slowly. Injuries and inexperience contributed to unorganized and shoddy play during the season’s first month, and the Colonial Women began the season only 1-3.

While most GW students relaxed and partied over winter recess, however, the Colonial Women buckled down, playing great basketball and putting together a 11-1 stretch in the process. When its 12-game odyssey ended, GW was left with an 12-4 record and a 8-0 mark in the Atlantic 10.

Another highlight for GW has been its dominant play at home. With a perfect 8-0 record at the Smith Center this season, the Colonial Women have now won 27 games, the third longest active streak in the nation.

“We’re starting to put it all together as a team, and hopefully this will turn out to be a real fun year,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said after his team’s 97-54 romp over Temple on Jan. 12.

The Temple game came on the last day of winter break, and with students groggily returning to campus, the alert Colonial Women played a complete game. GW shot a remarkable 59 percent from the field in the game while collecting 43 rebounds. The overmatched Temple team managed only 34 percent shooting and 30 rebounds.

Junior forward Noelia Gomez, whom McKeown has been advertising as a superstar all season, scored a career-high 27 points on 13-15 shooting from the field. She also grabbed nine rebounds. Along with senior center Tajama Abraham (25 points, seven rebounds), Gomez helped GW dominate Temple in the paint.

“Hopefully this was a break-out game for Noelia,” McKeown said, adding that she is a “special person and player.”

Gomez is a junior who transferred to GW this year after two seasons in her native Spain.

The Colonial Women were up 48-32 at the half on Temple, and by the time Gomez scored inside at 17:03 of the second half, the score was 60-32 and the rout was on.

The remainder of the game allowed many players to receive major playing time. These included junior guard Tami McGlynn and sophomore forward Mia Chiparus, who each had career-highs with five and four points, respectively.

In their Jan. 8 game at St. Joseph’s, GW got 23 points in the second half from Abraham to roll to a 84-71.

Abraham scored 14 of GW’s first 16 points in the second half as the Colonial Women took a 56-45 lead with 13:31 remaining.

Freshman guard Chasity Myers scored 21 points, while Gomez added 12 and senior guard Colleen McCrea handed out 10 assists.

GW also beat the Lady Hawks from outside, making five of 10 three-point shots as a team.

In GW’s 83-57 home win over Virginia Tech Jan. 6, GW senior forward Lisa Cermignano put forth the type of solid effort she has been known for during her four-year career at GW: 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists. The difference in the Virginia Tech game, however, was that her consistency added up to something big.

On the second of four three-pointers Cermignano made on the night, she became GW’s all-time leader in three-point field goals made. When her third trey swished through the hoop, Cermignano had scored her 1,000th career point.

Besides Cermignano’s heroics, GW was aided in the victory by Abraham’s 29 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore center Khadija Deas chipped in with a career-high 10 points.

Playing on Jan. 4 against a Princeton team that made it to the National Women’s Invitational Tournament a year ago, GW adapted its style and still controlled the smaller Lady Tigers.

Much like its better-known men’s team, the Princeton women like to slow down the pace of the game and try to win by outsmarting their opponents.

In this game at the Smith Center, however, the Colonial Women were not fazed by Princeton’s strategic efforts. Abraham led GW with 19 points, while Gomez added 15 and Cermignano 11 in the 62-42 domination.

Princeton was simply overmatched inside, and the bigger Colonial Women took advantage of their sizable height advantage to the tune of a 46-29 rebounding advantage.

“We knew Princeton would spread it out on us,” McKeown said. “But rather than try and force the issue, I called off the press to see if we could play that way.”

Playing in the second round of the Big Four Classic in Greensboro, N.C., Dec. 29, GW upset then-No. 13 Duke 54-48 in a tight game.

The Colonial Women parlayed 13 percent first half shooting by Duke into a 25-14 halftime advantage, and then held on despite being outscored in the second half.

The star for GW was freshman guard Marlo Egleston, who had a near-perfect game in amassing a game-high 19 points. The 5-7 sparkplug hit five of six shots from the field, including all three of her three-point attempts, and also connected on all six of her free throw shots.

For Egleston, her efforts landed her a couple of accolades. She was named to the all-Classic team, and also earned the A-10 rookie of the week award.

Both Egleston and Myers have been a huge part of the Colonial Women’s success, averaging five and 12 points, respectively.

In the first round of the Classic on Dec. 28, then-No. 8 N.C. State hit seven three-pointers and got 23 points from guard Jen Howard en route to a 72-62 victory.

GW’s starting frontcourt was saddled with foul trouble throughout the game, as Abraham, Cermignano and Gomez each finished with four fouls. Together, the three totaled just 25 points.

The Colonial Women were led by sophomore guard Vesna Perak’s 16 points in 22 minutes off the bench. Perak’s great game was marred, however, as she suffered a knee injury and has not returned to the court since.

Starting the winter break in brilliant fashion on Dec. 21, GW overwhelmed Ivy League foe Harvard 88-44 in a home game.

GW applied pressure defense throughout the game, forcing Harvard into 29 percent field goal shooting and 30 turnovers.

The Colonial Women saw four players reach double figures, led by Myers’ career-high 22 points.

“Chasity plays with such poise,” McKeown said after the game. “She’s real solid and has a very well-balanced game.”

On Dec. 19, GW welcomed the UCLA Lady Bruins to the East Coast with a 76-53 whipping at the Smith Center. Abraham led the way for GW with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The Colonial Women also received a nice outing from McCrea, who had 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Prior to its recent 11-1 stretch, GW had lost on the road at Penn State, George Mason and Old Dominion, and won at home against Maine.

As A-10 play begins in earnest, GW is feeling confident. Both Abraham and Cermignano have said they hope and expect the team to go through league play undefeated. If the past is any indication, the Colonial Women should be confident.

GW has dominated its league in recent seasons, compiling a sterling record of 78-18 during the A-10 regular season since the 1990-91 season. If that trend continues this year, as it appears it will, GW should again make noise in the NCAA Tournament, and may even advance past the Sweet 16 for the first time ever.

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