The last time GW faced St. Joseph’s, the two teams were squaring off in the final of the 1997 Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Last time, the red-hot Colonial women lost a heartbreaker, 59-56, to the Hawks that ended GW’s 22-game winning streak.
This time, GW returned the favor. The Colonial women handed the A-10’s East Division leader St. Joe’s its second conference loss of the season on national television at the Smith Center Sunday.
With the win and a loss to Virginia Tech earlier in the week, the Colonial women (13-7, 7-3 A-10) move into a three-way tie for second place in the A-10 West Division. They trail only Duquesne, which is 9-2 in A-10 play.
GW 57, St. Joe’s 47
GW’s 57-47 victory over St. Joe’s (15-6, 7-2 A-10) was a sweet one for the Colonial women and head coach Joe McKeown, even though just three players from this year’s squad played in 1997’s A-10 Tournament final last March.
“Coaches have long memories,” McKeown said. “It took me 11 months to get to this game. For some of our players it is the first time playing St. Joe’s, but it is still a big win for them against one of the best teams in the conference.”
The first 10 minutes of the second half turned out to be critical for the Colonial women as they went on a 14-1 run to push their lead from 35-29 to 49-30 with 10:24 left in the game. The run was keyed by consecutive steals and fast-break buckets by sophomore Marlo Egleston and freshman Corrin Reid.
“That (10-minute span) was as good as we’ve played this year on both ends of the floor,” McKeown said. “I thought we did a good job of getting Noelia (Gomez) the ball in good spots.”
Gomez, who finished the game with 16 points and eight rebounds, was able to catch the ball, turn to the basket and shoot an easy layup on several occasions during the second half. Sophomore point guard Elisa Aguilar led GW with 18 points, and dished out 7 assists.
After the run, though, GW began to stall on offense. The Colonial women played almost seven minutes without scoring late in the second half, and St. Joe’s went on a 9-0 run to trim GW’s 19-point lead to 10 at 51-41.
“It’s bittersweet when we were up 19 and we couldn’t finish them off,” McKeown said. “We got stagnant on offense and we were a little tired.” The Colonial women were playing their fifth game in 10 days.
The Hawks closed to within six points with a minute remaining, but four free throws by Aguilar and forward Mandisa Turner iced the game for GW.
St. Joe’s struggled offensively for most of the game. The Hawks shot just 32 percent from the field and hit only two of 19 three-point attempts. St. Joe’s made 58 percent of its free throw attempts.
“The people we are used to having as our go-to players weren’t there,” St. Joe’s head coach Stephanie Gaitley said. “That set the tone for the game. We had to change our whole game plan because we were down the whole game.”
Virginia Tech 67, GW 55
Sweeping the Colonial women in a season series doesn’t happen very often.
In fact, with a 67-55 victory over GW Thursday night at Cassell Coliseum, Virginia Tech became the first team to complete a season sweep of the Colonial women since 1992. Tech also defeated GW 64-57 Jan. 17 at the Smith Center.
GW took a 35-34 lead into halftime, but the Hokies went on a 15-4 run in the second half to take the lead, which they never relinquished. Tech was led by freshman Tere Williams, who registered her third straight double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
The Hokies were able to shut down GW’s best scoring threat, Noelia Gomez, who scored just four points in 29 minutes of play. Elisa Aguilar led the Colonial women with 19 points, and sophomore guard Chasity Myers chipped in with 15 points. Mandisa Turner also turned in a solid performance for GW with 10 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots.
GW, though, had problems in nearly all facets of the game, especially on the boards. Virginia Tech out-rebounded the Colonial women 38-27. GW also missed all nine of its three-point attempts, and the team combined for just five assists for the entire game.