Xavier defeats GW for Atlantic 10 Championship

PHILADELPHIA-When the final buzzer sounded with Xavier claiming the Atlantic 10 Championship with an 80-66 victory over the GW women’s basketball team at the Liacouras Center, the Colonials’ most potent offensive weapon was on the bench.

In fact, Petra Dubovcova and her game-high 20 points had been sitting there for the final 6:53 after picking up a fifth foul for reaching in on Xavier’s Taru Tuukkanen. The absence of the GW junior and the Colonials’ inability to hit the outside jump-shot made their second-half double-digit deficit too much to overcome as Xavier earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

The Colonials (25-5) and St Joseph’s (24-5), which blew a 19-point halftime lead to Xavier in Sunday’s semifinals will have to wait until Sunday at 5 p.m., when both teams are expected to receive at-large NCAA Tournament berths.

Dubovcova picked up her fourth foul and went to the bench when she and Xavier’s Jennifer Phillips were called for a double foul at the Colonials’ defensive end with 13:06 left. Off the Xavier in-bounds pass from underneath the basket, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, Nicole Levandusky (19 points), hit a layup and was fouled, giving the Muskateers the lead for good at 47-45.

Well, I think if you had to throw a dart at it, I think the main, probably the biggest play in the game if you’re GW is we’re up one, and they called a double foul, Petra’s fourth, GW head coach Joe McKeown said. They went on a, I don’t know, 12-2 run after that. It really hurt us, and that was the game.

Xavier (26-4) went on a 12-1 run behind two Levandusky baskets and a three-pointer by A-10 Rookie of the Year Amy Waugh (14 second-half points) after Dubovcova left the game. GW’s lone point came on a free throw from freshman Cathy Joens. Erica Lawrence’s basket with 7:50 left cut the deficit to 56-48 and came just over a minute after Dubovcova re-entered the game. Lawrence struggled in the game, shooting 2-of-11 from the floor.

When Dubovcova fouled out, Levandusky hit a three-pointer, and Waugh followed with one of her own to extend Xavier’s lead to 68-53 with four minutes to play. The Colonials came as close as 70-62 with just over two minutes when junior Kristeena Alexander hit her only basket of the game (1-of-8, two points), a leaning jumper right of the foul line. Marlo Egleston hit a three-pointer and senior Elisa Aguilar hit a basket during the Colonials’ quick 9-2 run, but GW couldn’t muster much offense after that.

I thought we played well for about 28 minutes, 30 minutes, McKeown said. The last 10 minutes, (Xavier) just kicked it into another gear, it seemed like. Give them a lot of credit.

Levandusky opened the game firing from the outside, hitting a three-pointer and a layup in the first minute of the game. Xavier cooled down after that, missing its next nine field goal attempts and shooting only 27 percent (9-of-33) in the first half. The Colonials trailed 17-12 in the first half when freshman Lindsey Davidson hit a trey. Davidson made a lob pass to Leslie Carlson for a layup at 5:38, GW took its first lead at 21-19 and went into halftime with a 31-27 halftime lead.

Dubovcova led GW’s offense during the weekend, averaging 19 points per game, almost seven points higher then the junior’s average during the regular season against A-10 opponents. The Colonials’ leading scorer this season, Aguilar, averaged just more than 10 points per game and shot just 20 percent (7-of-35) from the field, including a dismal 2-for-15 from behind the arc.

I’m excited about next week, McKeown said. I’m about ready to put this game behind me.

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