Xavier stole one earlier this month and the Colonials want it back this weekend. If the two teams meet in the championship game of the Atlantic 10 Tournament at the Liacorous Center in Philadelphia, the GW women will be able to draw from a resource that they did not have last time the two teams met – anger.
There is a lot at stake. Respect, revenge. The two teams have met twice this season and split. They met twice last season and split. Then Xavier knocked off GW in the championship round of the A-10 Tourney.
The Colonials have a much different team this season. They are younger but taller. They are slower but stronger. They have a stronger inside game, but they will need a different kind of inside strength to prevail this weekend.
They have proven they can beat Xavier. In December, GW defeated the Musketeers at home by 14 points. Sophomore guard Lindsey Davidson scored 27 points and GW asserted itself as the top team in the A-10. But the last time GW and Xavier met on Feb. 4, Xavier mounted a late comeback that the Colonials could not hold off. Xavier’s Taru Tuukkanen was at the free-throw line shooting to tie with six seconds remaining. She hit both shots, sending the game into overtime, where the Colonials eventually lost 86-84.
Davidson said it was the team’s lowest point. Each player’s heart was lying out before her on the locker room floor in Cincinnati. That game and the following road loss to Temple ousted the Colonials from first place in the A-10 and made it doubtful that the Colonials would crack the top 25. Xavier had once again reestablished itself as the top team in the A-10, and since Feb. 4, nothing has changed.
“We’re ready to rumble,” Davidson says.
The Colonials want revenge.
There isn’t a team at this weekend’s A-10 Tournament that the Colonials have not beaten. There isn’t a team they want more than Xavier. But the road to a possible rematch with Xavier will not be easy. The challenge they face isn’t just getting to the championship round; it’s getting there with Xavier, who also has a tough road. .
GW will have to get through either St. Bonaventure or Duquesne in the quarterfinal round Saturday. This should not be difficult. GW is 3-0 against those teams this season with an average margin of victory of 21 points. GW beat the Bonnies by thirty points last Thursday.
If the Colonials win and move into the semifinal round, they will play Temple assuming the Lady Owls win their quarterfinal-round game against either La Salle or Fordham.
The Colonials need discipline to win in this tournament. They lost to Xavier and Temple by giving each team free rein at the free throw line. The Colonials unraveled against Temple with giving the Lady Owls 45 tries from the free throw line.
Temple converted 26-of-45 there. GW went to the line only 20 times. You can’t win with those numbers. The Colonials squandered a seven-point lead in the second half by allowing Temple to get to the free throw line and convert.
Is GW capable of beating now No. 12 Xavier? They have done it once this season, nearly twice. The Colonials were six seconds away from handing Musketeers their third loss and you had better bet that every Colonial player is confident the team can dethrone Xavier and exact revenge from the title loss last year.
The Colonials probably have the inside edge with freshman center Ugo Oha. Oha is 6-4 and leading the league in blocks with 68. McKeown raves at her ability to alter opposing teams’ shots with her long arms. But who knows how Oha will stand in playoff action? She’s extremely mature for her age. But last time she went up against Xavier, Oha scored six points and grabbed only one rebound.
McKeown has said Oha learns exponentially from each game. She’ll need to keep Xavier’s Tuukkanen and Nicole Levandusky at bay. The pair combined for 46 points in Xavier’s home win.
The Colonials will have to watch out for Xavier’s Amy Waugh, last year’s A-10 Rookie of the Year, can hit the clutch three-pointer. Waugh suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon this season, but she returned just in time to nail a clutch three-pointer putting Xavier on top of GW 65-63 with just a few minutes remaining Feb. 4. A year earlier, Waugh hit a three-pointer with 5.7 seconds left, sending a semifinal game with St. Joe’s into. That’s respectable. But GW wants revenge.