Despite a sloppy opening performance, the GW women’s basketball team overcame a 10-point second half deficit and held off the University of Hartford 70-61 at the Smith Center Saturday. GW held Hartford star forward Janeka Lopp to one basket in the second half after she dominated the first half with 16 points.
Tied at 53 with less than six minutes remaining, GW’s Marsheik Witherspoon grabbed a rebound and sped down the court to find Erica Lawrence for a fast break lay-up. Less than a minute later, Lawrence sped downcourt again, this time making a lay-up from Lindsey Davidson’s pass to spark a late run.
When Ugo Oha drew Hartford’s inside threat Kelly Ann Charles into foul trouble with three minutes left, the Colonials secured their lead, scoring 12 points in the final three minutes.
It was an impressive comeback for the Colonials, who were down as many as 11 points early in the second half. Lopp dominated from the outside in the first half, scoring 16 points, 7-of-10 from the field and 2-of-3 from behind the arc.
“I thought our defense looked like Swiss cheese,” head coach Joe McKeown said of his team’s inability to stop Lopp.
Lopp finished the first half 11 points ahead of teammate Kenitra Johnson, who had five points heading into the break. This lopsided scoring hurt Hartford when GW shut Lopp down in the second half. Hartford guard Dorcas Miller added 11 second-half points while GW trapped Lopp in double-teams.
The Colonials had trouble getting the ball to Lawrence, and she and Davidson were held to a combined five points in the first half. Off the bench, Cathy Joens contributed rusty shooting, going 1-for-3 with three points in the first half.
“CJ struggles. She’s trying to rush a bit,” McKeown said. “She’s going to have nights where she’ll light it up and have nights like tonight.”
Before the game, McKeown said he wanted to start Witherspoon at the point, hoping Joens would contribute double figures off the bench.
It took Witherspoon a little while to settle into her role. She had eight points and six assists on the day.
“She needed to get this out of her system to get some confidence, McKeown said. “In the last five minutes when the game was on the line, she made a lot of big plays.”
Realizing their outside shooting was off, the Colonials resorted to their inside game in the second half. Oha scored nine of her 17 points in the second half. She added three blocks, two more than Hartford’s entire team total, and had a team-high seven rebounds. Senior Elena Vishniakova added nine points.
Sophomore Valerie Williams added eight points and freshman Anna Montanana completed the inside domination adding all of her six points in the second half.
“We just need to execute,” Lawrence said. “We were sloppy, and it all come down to execution.”
The Colonials travel to for a game against No. 11 North Carolina State Tuesday night.