Colonials shoot down the Hawks, 70-67

GW entered Sunday’s game a perfect 12-0 at home. St Joseph’s entered the Smith Center a perfect 9-0 on the road. After the 40-minute battle ended between these two A-10 division leading teams, something would have to give way.

When St Joe’s Jana Lichnerova’s game-tying three-point attempt with four seconds remaining hit the left side of the rim and went out of bounds, the GW women’s basketball team won the thriller, 70-67.

It was a great basketball game to watch, GW head coach Joe McKeown said. I think the fans really got their money’s worth. You can see why both teams have the records that they have.

GW’s 18th-straight home victory came in front of 3,116 frenzied fans, the largest regular-season crowd to ever watch a women’s basketball game at the Smith Center. GW junior Starr Jefferson had a double-double with a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with 12 points and was one of four Colonials in double-digits.

We had a lot of heroes out there today. McKeown said.

The Colonials (18-3, 9-1 Atlantic 10) held their largest lead of the game 65-57 with three minutes left after GW junior Petra Dubovcova (13 points) banked in a short jump shot.

But the Hawks (18-4, 9-2 A-10) roared back behind Lichnerova (17 points, 13 rebounds) and sophomore Susan Moran (15 points). Lichnerova’s spinning layup with under two minutes left was followed by a Moran three-point play on St Joe’s next possession. The Hawks had the ball trailing 65-64 with 40 seconds left when Moran missed a layup and Dubovcova grabbed the rebound. Dubovcova was fouled and made two critical free throws to give the Colonials a three-point advantage .

With GW ahead 69-64, St Joe’s Angela Zampella (10 points, seven assists) drained a long three-pointer cutting the deficit to 69-67 with 12 seconds to go. GW’s Kristeena Alexander only made one of two free throws on the ensuing possession, giving the Hawks a chance to send the game into overtime.

The second half was just a war, McKeown said. But I thought the last four minutes we really executed pretty well when we had to.

The earlier part of the second half was a see-saw affair that produced seven lead changes in a four-minute span. Down 46-45 with 12 minutes remaining GW spark-plug Alexander (14 points, seven assists) powered a 11-4 Colonials run with three-point field goals on consecutive GW possessions. The Hawks managed only free throws during GW’s run as St Joe’s missed 11 straight shots.

We got caught up in the adrenaline and the enthusiasm of the crowd, and I lost a little discipline on our defense, said St Joseph’s head coach Stephanie Gaitley. I think that hurt us.

After freshman Cathy Joens tied the game at 46-46 with a free throw, teammate and A-10 Rookie of the Week Erica Lawrence hit a jump shot from the foul line to give GW a lead it would not give back. Alexander’s first trey followed the Lawrence basket and her second came less than a minute later.

It felt good when it left my hands, Alexander said. I knew we needed something to get us going.

St Joseph’s Zampella opened the scoring with a trey 20 seconds into the game to which GW’s Elisa Aguilar (16 points) replied with a three-pointer of her own 15 seconds later. Moran scored six points during a St Joe’s run following Aguilar’s basket to give the Hawks an 11-3 lead. Aguilar made three three-point field goals in the first half to keep GW close, and Jefferson picked up the offensive slack inside for the Colonials with nine first-half points. The Colonials only led for brief moments during the first half but found themselves only down by two points at halftime.

I felt like at home we were gonna keep our poise, McKeown said. We regroup pretty well. Aguilar hit a couple (three-pointers) that really settled us down a lot. I thought they were big.

-Adam Marlowe contributed to this report.

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