The largest regular season crowd ever attended the GW women’s basketball game against Xavier Sunday – a welcome sign that the perennially ranked Colonial women are finally getting the respect they deserve.
A total of 3,217 fans helped rally the Colonial women to a thrilling comeback victory as GW claimed sole possession of the title best in the West in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Along with a long line of great players, GW has benefited from the genius of one of the great coaches in college basketball.
Coach Joe McKeown, in his 11th season at GW, has coached the Colonial women to nine trips to the NCAA Tournament and an Elite Eight appearance in 1995. A much sought-after coach, McKeown was offered head positions with the WNBA’s New York Liberty and Western Kentucky University, traditionally a women’s basketball powerhouse.
Subtle differences between men’s and women’s games abound. While students at men’s games tend to be more vocal, students at women’s games stay relatively quiet. And while the men’s squad went undefeated at the Smith Center last season, the women’s squad accomplished that very feat this season, compiling a 14-0 home record with one home game left.
As the Colonial women notched home victories against last year’s NCAA Tournament squads Rutgers, Santa Clara, Virginia Tech, St. Joseph’s and Xavier, more GW students have come out to the games, bringing with them the electric atmosphere of men’s games.
Nationally, the growth in popularity of women’s basketball has been infectious. At the universities of Tennessee and Connecticut support of women’s basketball has reached a fever pitch. But support hasn’t been uniform. The long-time head coach of the St. Peter’s University women’s basketball recently sued the college over the disturbingly apparent disparity in funding between the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
The GW women’s basketball team experienced a decade of unparalleled success. The difference at Sunday’s game was that GW fans recognized that success to a degree unseen in Colonial women’s basketball history.