While senior day is bittersweet, it is a little sweeter in victory. The Colonials closed out their final two home games with routs against St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island, two non-threatening Atlantic 10 teams.
The Colonials finished the regular season with 20 wins and will receive a first-round bye as a second seed in next weekend’s A-10 Tournament at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
Prior to the tip-off of Sunday’s game against URI, GW’s four seniors were honored at center court in their final Smith Center appearance. Kristeena Alexander, Petra Dubovcova, Corrin Reid and Leslie Carlson received framed action shots of themselves. Both Alexander and Dubovcova reached the 1,000-point plateau this season and were awarded showcase basketballs to honor the accomplishment.
“It’ll be sad to see those four go,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said. “They bring so much to the program. On the flipside, they’ve all had a great experience at GW.”
All four seniors started the URI game, but McKeown quickly removed Carlson for center Ugo Uha when the Colonials got off to a slow start.
After the 81-68 win over Rhode Island was complete, the four seniors admitted that their final regular season game at the Smith Center felt like any other because there are still more important games to be played.
“Maybe I’m weird,” Dubovcova said. “But it didn’t hit me. Maybe after the season it will.”
The Colonials (20-8, 14-2, A-10) will play Saturday at 4 p.m against the winner of the first-round St. Bonaventure-Duquesne game.
GW 81, URI 68
Sunday, Feb. 25
The Colonials defeated Rhode Island 81-68 on senior day at the Smith Center in front of 2,567 fans. During the game, Oha broke Tajama Abraham’s single-season blocks record with her 68th of the season. But after the game McKeown was concerned more with an injury his center sustained late in the fourth quarter.
GW had the game wrapped up and led 77-56 with 4:28 remaining. Oha was under the GW basket when she jumped for an offensive rebound and collided with two URI players. It looked as though she landed awkwardly on her left foot and rolled over on it.
Oha walked away slowly after lying on the ground for several minutes. McKeown hadn’t seen or examined the foot closely enough to comment on it.
“If it’s a sprain, we’ve got time to heal,” McKeown said. “If it’s more serious than that, I’ll start going to church.”
Sophomore Erica Lawrence scored a team-high 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting and led the Colonials.
URI dressed only seven players but seemed unfazed by GW’s balanced attack. They refused to let GW break loose in the first half. GW could not contain URI’s three-point shooters.
“They put up three-pointers like they were layups,” McKeown said. URI hit seven three-pointers in the first half as Rhonda Pacheco was 3-for-3 in the period.
The Colonials led for most of the game. After a brief collapse in the first half in which Pacheco and Shayla Johnson hit back-to-back three-pointers to give URI a 26-20 lead with eight minutes remaining, the Colonials recovered on a Lindsey Davidson three-pointer with one second remaining.
Davidson intercepted an inbound pass from Lyrica Smith and dribbled it to the three-point line. Her basket put GW on top 43-37 into halftime.
Midway through the second half GW surged behind a 20-2 run led by Dubovcova, Reid and Lawrence.
GW 78, St. Bonaventure 48
Thursday, Feb 22
Dubovcova was unguarded and waiting at the three-point line for a Davidson pass as three St. Bonaventure defenders collapsed around her in the first half. Dubovcova, who had been scoreless in the game, took the pass and immediately drilled a three-pointer for her 1,000th point at GW.
The shot fell at 16:57 in the second half and by then the game was decided in GW’s favor. That three-pointer gave the Colonials a 50-18 lead, and the team went on to win 78-48. Dubovcova was relieved.
The senior threw up her hands and threw off a burden that had been creeping and increasing with each game. Reaching one thousand points seemed a certainty earlier this season for the senior, who was one of the team’s leading scorers. But an injury to her knee earlier this year sidelined Dubovcova and her time and effectiveness had been diminished.
Dubovcova entered the game needing only three points to join 17 other GW women’s basketball players on the elite list. About thirty seconds after she hit the three-pointer, Dubovcova drained another jumper, giving her 1002 points.
Coach Joe McKeown called a 20-second timeout with 16:23 remaining and Dubovcova joined her teammates near the sideline. The crowd stood and cheered and McKeown gave Dubovcova, whom he has called the best freshman he ever saw, a giant hug.
“It’s been a great life lesson for her to have to overcome a lot of these obstacles,” McKeown said after the game. “Petra – I love her to death. She’s a great person. She’s had to battle and battle and battle and fight her way back.”
Dubovcova missed most of her freshman season, after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament in her ninth game at GW. She has reached the 1,000-point plateau in what amounts to three complete season, not four. The Colonials never struggled during the game.
After a 24-7 GW run in the opening ten minutes, two things happened – McKeown made an effort to get freshman guard Marsheik Witherspoon playing time and freshman center Ugo Oha blocked just about every shot the Bonnies took.
McKeown said Witherspoon may be called on during the A-10 Tournament to give starting point guard Kristeena Alexander some relief.
Oha finished with 16 points and nine blocks. Oha has more blocks than seven other A-10 teams.
The team’s leading scorer Erica Lawrence scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting. The Colonials held the Bonnies to just 15 points in the first half, forcing 14 turnovers while shooting 65 percent (17-for-26) from the field. The Bonnies could not shoot over the taller Colonials, and left the floor at halftime losing 41-15, having shot just 26 percent (6-for-26).
Things improved slightly for the Bonnies in the second half. The Colonials offense slowed down, but this was because McKeown emptied his bench.
Lawrence was 4-for-4 in the second half and Oha swatted away seven shots in just 12 minutes of play. At one point, the Colonials led by as many as 41 points.