First-place GW completes Smith Center sweep

Get ready to turn the calendar to March Madness. The Atlantic 10 West Division champion GW women’s basketball team completed a perfect Smith Center season Thursday and completed its stellar regular season Sunday with a 61-42 win at Duquesne. The 86-77 victory over Dayton gave the Colonials a 15-0 home record for the regular season with still an outside chance for GW to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

I’m really proud of this team, for them to go undefeated at home, Coach Joe McKeown said. It’s a really special group. I think when you look at when we started out in October, if you look at our home schedule you see Rutgers, Virginia Tech coming off the `Sweet 16.’ You see St. Joe’s coming off the NCAA Tournament, Xavier coming off the NCAA Tournament also, Villanova, Santa Clara coming off the NCAA Tournament – we had a tough home schedule. So to go through it undefeated, man, it just says what a special year it’s been for this group.

Yesterday’s road victory at Duquesne gave GW (23-4, 14-2 A-10) the best overall A-10 record. GW and A-10 East champion St. Joseph’s are both 14-2 in conference play, but the Colonials won the head-to-head matchup earlier this season. The win also meant the Colonials earned a first-round bye and will play the Temple/La Salle winner in the quarterfinal round of the A-10 Tournament. The game will be played at noon Saturday, March 4, at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia. The A-10 West crown gives GW its fifth first-place finish in the last six years as the Colonials will look to win their first conference tournament championship in four seasons.

GW 61, Duquesne 42
Sunday, Feb. 27

The Colonials wrapped up their tremendous regular season in dominating fashion Sunday, defeating Duquesne 61-42 at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

Senior Elisa Aguilar scored a game-high 16 points and junior Petra Dubovcova added 15 to lead GW to its 23rd overall win. The last time GW won 23 games in the regular season was in the 1996-’97 season when the Colonials advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

The Colonials took a commanding 31-19 halftime lead, using two double-digit runs in the first half to counter a sluggish start – GW was down 8-2 through the first four minutes. GW’s 15-2 run following the early deficit and a 14-4 run in the final eight minutes gave the Colonials the double-digit advantage.

Aguilar capped an early 13-5 second-half run with a three-point field goal to give GW a 44-24 lead that Duquesne would not challenge.

Duquesne (8-19, 4-12 A-10) shot a poor 24 percent (12-of-50) from the field as the Dukes went 0-for-9 from behind the arc. GW’s defense also forced 26 turnovers and held all Duquense players to single-digits in points.

GW 86, Dayton 77
Thursday, Feb. 24

GW’s 86-77 victory over Dayton Thursday earned the Colonials the A-10 West crown and the team’s second perfect home record in four years.

Petra Dubovcova starred on GW’s Senior Night – honoring Aguilar, Starr Jefferson, Marlo Egleston and Katarina Baskova – as the junior tied a career high with 25 points (10-of-15 from the field) despite fouling out with over five minutes remaining in the game. Egleston scored 13 points and six assists for GW while Aguilar contributed 12 points and a game-high eight assists for the Colonials.

When I sit down later tonight, it’ll probably sink in that it’ll be the last time I’ll walk on the floor with Aguilar and Egleston and Katarina – you don’t know what she means to this team, she’s a very special person, Coach McKeown said. And Starr Jefferson has left her sweat on that floor everyday. And what can you say about Marlo, she’s the leader, heart and soul of this program. She is the epitome of a student-athlete. And Elisa Aguilar is one of the greatest players I’ve ever coached.

GW made 18 second-half free throws (the Colonials had no attempts in the first half) including seven in the last 1:22 to assure itself the comeback victory after trailing by as many as seven points in the final half. Egleston’s two free throws with 20 seconds left clinched the win, making the 84-77 score a three-possession game.

I thought we just had to get to the basket more, McKeown said. We didn’t get to the free throw line the entire first half. I felt like we had to get more of an attack-type mode and Dayton, I’ll tell you, they went basket for basket with us.

The Colonials used a 14-1 run sparked by the aggressive play of guard Corrin Reid (eight points) and Dubovcova, whose heavily contested three-pointer gave GW the lead for good at 59-58 with just over 11 minutes to play. GW junior guard Kristeena Alexander nailed a three-pointer following two Erica Lawrence free throws to complete the run and force a Dayton timeout. Freshman Cathy Joens played only four minutes in her first action in a week, but hit a big three-pointer to cut the deficit to 53-50 just two minutes before the GW run.

Dayton’s 48-41 lead just under four minutes into the second half was its largest of the game. Dayton reserve Raelynn McIntosh scored 25 points (18 second-half points), pulled down 15 rebounds and was able to get Dubovcova and Jefferson in foul trouble (both GW forwards had fouled out with over four minutes left). McIntosh went to the free-throw line 13 times in the game, missing just two attempts. The GW defense was able to contain the talented Dayton guard Christi Hester (23 points) to only five points in the second half.

Dubovcova and the four seniors started for GW, running out to an impressive 12-4 lead over the first four minutes. Hester’s three three-pointers jump started a Flyers’ 11-0 run midway through the first half that enabled Dayton (14-13, 9-7 A-10) to take a 35-34 halftime lead.

The Colonials were out-rebounded 40-31 in the game, but GW committed only 12 turnovers and made 14 steals.

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