GW women upend No. 13 Arkansas

The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team received a warm reception from President Bill Clinton at the White House Friday.

Unfortunately for the Lady Razorbacks, GW wasn’t as hospitable Saturday afternoon at the Smith Center.

The Colonial women (5-1) crushed the 1998 “Final Four” team 74-56 in front of a vocal crowd of 1,562.

Arkansas (6-3) jumped out to a 10-2 lead with three and a half minutes elapsed in the first half. But with the entrance of substitute Khadija Deas, GW became a different team. Deas came in at the 17-minute mark when Mandisa Turner was hit with two quick fouls. Deas later narrowed the gap to 12-8 with a layup.

“Khadija Deas turned the game around in the first half,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said.

The Colonial women went on a 25-16 run to take the lead at 29-28 with a little more than three minutes left before halftime, and Arkansas would never lead again.

A strange play near the end of the first half led to GW taking a substantial lead into halftime. Deas got an offensive rebound with 53 seconds left in the half, and Arkansas head coach Gary Blair was assessed a technical foul for complaining that she had gone over the back of one his players to get the ball. The officials were confused and gave Deas a foul shot, although no foul had been called on Arkansas other than the technical. Petra Dubovcova sank the two technicals to give GW a 36-30 lead, but then the officials conferenced and took away Deas’ foul shot. Noelia Gomez made a layup off the ensuing in-bounds play to give GW a 37-30 lead going into halftime.

GW outscored the Lady Razorbacks 37-26 in the second period to secure the victory.

Gomez and Deas – both of whom recently returned from injury – were virtually unstoppable in the paint. Both tallied their first double-doubles of the season, and the first of Deas’s career. Gomez connected on 10 of 14 field goal attempts for a game-high 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Deas scored 12 points and grabbed a game-high 12 boards.

“These are the games we look forward to because it proves that we’re a `Final Four’ team ourselves,” Deas said.

The difference in the contest was field goal percentage. GW shot 50 percent from the field (26 of 52) while holding Arkansas to just 32 percent shooting (19 of 60).

“Tonight we played hard but we played a team that was a lot smarter than us,” Blair said. “When you look at GW on film sometimes you’re not impressed with them till you get out on the court and you actually see the good thinking and the well-coached team and how the backcourt plays.”

GW’s leader in points and assists, Elisa Aguilar, had her worst shooting performance of the year. She shot only three of 16 from the field and two of 10 from three-point range for 12 points, but equaled her season average of assists with a game-high six.

“I can’t believe that we would win against a very good team with Elisa shooting 3 for 16,” McKeown said. “I have never seen her shoot that poorly, but obviously her floor game today was tremendous.

On defense the Colonial women were led by guard Chasity Myers. While she scored seven points and dished three assists, Myers’ biggest contribution was her defense on Arkansas’ guard Wendi Willits. Willits came into the game averaging 14.6 points per game, including 58.1 percent (25 of 43) shooting from three-point range, but Myers held her to seven points and no three-pointers.

“Myers did a great job on Wendi Willits today,” Blair said. “She goes and gets the little things done.”

GW’s next game will be on the road against cross-town rival American University at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The Eagles defeated GW 71-69 last season at the Smith Center.

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