No. 7 seed Colonials to play UCLA in NCAAs

The GW women’s basketball team was rewarded for its 25-win season Sunday afternoon as the Colonials received an at-large No. 7 seed in the Mideast regional of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament beginning this Friday or Saturday (GW’s day was not set as of late Sunday night).

The Colonials (25-5), who are a perfect 7-0 all-time in first-round games, will battle No. 10 seed UCLA in South Bend, Ind., with a potential second-round meeting with No. 2 seed Notre Dame.

We’re just excited to play again, said Coach Joe McKeown, whose team is ranked 23rd in the latest Associated Press poll. It’s what you talk about Oct. 15th, playing in the NCAA Tournament, and the matchups and the draws. We would have loved to have played at home, but we’re playing. so that’s all that matters.

The Colonials face a UCLA team (18-10) out of the Pacific 10 Conference that was picked as a national-title contender in the beginning of the season. The Bruins feature Player of the Year candidate Maylana Martin and senior point guard Erica Gomez, who was injured for the team’s early season losses to three of this season’s NCAA No. 1 seeds – the University of Connecticut (East), Louisiana Tech (Midwest) and the University of Tennessee (Mideast). The University of Georgia is the fourth No. 1 seed in the tournament, playing in the West region.

UCLA’s a great team, McKeown said. We played them in 1997 and 1998 and a lot of those guys – Petra (Dubovcova), Katarina (Baskova), Elisa (Aguilar) all played in that game, and I think there’s a lot of familiarity with them. They’re a formidable first-round opponent.

The 1996-`97 Colonials team that defeated UCLA early in the year advanced all the way to the Elite Eight before bowing to Notre Dame 62-52 in the East Regional Finals. Similar to this season’s Colonials, the Elite Eight squad also lost the Atlantic 10 Championship game and entered the NCAAs with a 25-5 record.

GW senior guard Marlo Egleston remembers the tough battle against Notre Dame and wants another shot at the Fighting Irish.

I thought about that, freshman year, Egleston said. That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw that we were with them. I would love to get to play them again and hopefully beat them.

This is the eighth NCAA appearance for McKeown and GW in the last 10 years. GW’s most recent NCAA action came in 1998 when the Colonials defeated No. 7 seed Georgia and then fell to No. 2 seed UConn. The Colonials were a No. 7 seed in 1994 when the team lost to the University of Southern California in the second round. For freshman Cathy Joens, who came to GW from Irvine, Calif., 45 minutes from UCLA, she knows her first tournament is a special one.

It’s exciting going to the tournament for the first time and also playing a team that’s from my own home, Joens said. So obviously there’s a little rivalry there.

GW enters the NCAAs with a 10-7 all-time NCAA record that also includes a Sweet 16 appearance in 1995.

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