Preseason exhibitions are supposed to be blowouts.
But when the host team is playing its first game of the season without its all-American candidate, the outcome becomes more unpredictable.
The GW women’s basketball team – without star senior forward Noelia Gomez – opened against Athletes in Action, winning 78-72 in a tight game at the Smith Center Monday night. Gomez couldn’t play because of an injured left knee.
At the two-minute mark of the second half, the Colonial women led 65-64, when junior guard Elisa Aguilar took control.
Aguilar found an opening in the Athletes in Action defense on the left side of the three-point arc and nailed the shot in front of an onrushing defender, giving GW a 68-64 lead. Moments later, Aguilar exploited the same weak spot, hitting her last of four three-pointers on the night to add to GW’s lead, 71-64.
“It’s a good test for us to see if we could defend them late in the game, make the stop and hit a big shot which Elisa did with the three in the second half,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said. “She drilled it.”
Aguilar took up the slack for her ailing teammate, Gomez, by scoring 11 of the Colonial women’s final 13 points and a game-high 24 points.
GW came out rusty in the first half, managing to hit only 28 percent of its field goal attempts. But Athletes in Action couldn’t do much better, scoring just two points in the first 9:27 of the game.
Down 13-2, Athletes in Action clawed back behind the play of its deep bench, which scored 17 of the team’s 28 first-half points. Guard Nikki Gilmore connected on all three of her first-half three-point attempts, tallying team-highs of 11 first-half points and 19 for the contest. The Athletes’ Jackie Ransom played tough in the paint, grabbing a team-high eight rebounds and scoring 16 points.
Athletes in Action took advantage of those times when Aguilar was out of the game, going on a 32-19 run at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half to take a 34-32 lead – its only second-half lead.
With Aguilar running the point, GW took back the lead. Forward Petra Dubovcova tied the game on a layup after collecting a no-look pass that Aguilar zipped from the top of the key. On the Colonial women’s next possession, Aguilar drove, drew the defense and dished to Mandisa Turner for an easy layup and the 36-34 lead, which GW wouldn’t relinquish.
Dubovcova scored 13 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds while Turner tallied 18 points and six boards.