St. Joe’s stuns GW women in A-10 semifinal

PHILADELPHIA – It looked like the GW women’s basketball team and Virginia Tech were on a collision course to meet in the Atlantic 10 Tournament final Monday night.

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But St. Joe’s and Xavier had other plans. The Hawks took out GW (19-9), and the Musketeers downed Tech in the semifinals at The Forum at the Apollo of Temple in Philadelphia Sunday night.

The Colonial women must now wait to see if they will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“`N-I-T’ are three letters I don’t like,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said, referring to the National Invitational Tournament. “We play a national schedule and I think we have a good chance (at making NCAAs).”

St. Joe’s 74, GW 56

With Xavier knocking Virginia Tech out of the A-10 Tournament moments before their game with St. Joe’s, the Colonial women would have to stay focused on the goal at hand.

That goal – to defeat a pesky Hawks’ squad that handed GW one of its four A-10 losses this season. The Colonial women would fail to avenge the Jan. 2 62-59 loss at St. Joe’s, as the Hawks out-executed GW for 74-56 victory Sunday and a berth in the tournament final.

St. Joe’s (20-7) jumped out to an 18-2 lead and wouldn’t look back as the Colonial women never get closer than nine points.

St. Joe’s shot 52 percent from the field and dominated the Colonial women in almost every aspect the game. GW shot just 36 percent, turned the ball over 19 times and was outrebounded on the offensive end, 14 to 6.

The Colonial women were buried by the Hawks’ 11 three-pointers, seven coming from Melissa Coursey, which tied an A-10 Tournament record.

“They executed really well,” GW guard Marlo Egleston said. “Their three-point shots were all wide open.”

The Colonial women had almost no semblance of continuity for the first 11 and a half minutes of the game as they managed just two points. St. Joe’s defense stifled the GW offense, forcing the Colonial women into poor shots and denying them offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities.

Elisa Aguilar, who returned from an injury in GW’s semifinal game against La Salle, scored 11 first-half points, while senior Noelia Gomez scored just two points in the first half and was held to 13 for the game.

GW 85, La Salle 59

The Colonial women built an eight-point cushion by halftime before blowing out La Salle in the second half for an 85-59 victory in the A-10 quarterfinals Saturday.

The sixth-seeded Explorers (14-14) cut the GW lead to six at 39-33 with 18:40 left in the game. But La Salle got no closer, as Egleston and Kristeena Alexander hit consecutive three-point shots to initiate a 14-2 GW run that gave the Colonial women a 53-35 lead.

“It’s a real solid win for us against a team that can really give you a lot of trouble,” McKeown said.

Gomez led all scorers with 23 points, including 12 free throws.

“We had a little letdown at the end of the first half and La Salle capitalized,” McKeown said. “I thought in the second half, we were able to get the ball to Gomez when we needed to.”

GW’s three-guard rotation of Egleston, Corrin Reid and Kristeena Alexander accounted for 34 points and 15 assists. Reid scored a career-high 12 points.

“I was wide open off the screens,” Reid said. “They’re going to double- or triple-team Noelia in the post, so I got some good looks.”

“This is crunch time and my decisions have to lead to an assist and points,” said Alexander, who had seven assists. “I’ve never played in an NCAA Tournament. I want to get to the Dance and we have to do it here.”

The Colonial women wreaked havoc on the defensive end. GW forced La Salle into 25 turnovers and held the Explorers to 36-percent shooting.

In the first half, the Colonial women jumped to an 11-0 advantage by the 14:39 mark, although La Salle closed to 39-31 by halftime.

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