The last time the Colonial women posted back-to-back victories came more than a month ago when, after a sloppy loss to Georgetown, the Colonials beat De Paul on Dec. 9 and Rutgers Dec 12. A disappointing loss to George Mason followed, which characterized the start of the Colonials season – tough losses scattered among a few sloppy wins.
But McKeown and his team are turning it around at just the right time, with Sunday’s win over Xavier marking the Colonials fourth straight victory in Atlantic 10 play. After finishing second at the Pepperdine Holiday Classic, in Malibu, Calif., the Colonials returned home and posted convincing victories over La Salle, Fordham, Dayton and Xavier, making them perfect in conference play. GW went 5-1 over winter break.
The biggest difference for the Colonials is the return of the outside shot. Cathy Joens, labeled one of the nations best shooters, struggled offensively at the beginning of the season but has been red hot over the last six games, averaging more than 14 points a game. Lindsey Davidson, who was 4-for-22 in her first four games, went 4-of-5 from three-point range against Dayton and seems to have regained her touch.
Freshman Anna Montanana’s minutes have also impacted the Colonials. Her play earned her two consecutive A-10 Rookie of the Week honors Jan. 6 and 13.
GW 81, Xavier 59
Elena Vishniakova and Cathy Joens proved an effective inside-outside combination as they scored more than half of the Colonials total points in Sunday’s victory. While the game may not be a pivotal one in the standings, the win was a sort of redemption for the Colonials, who were defeated by Xavier for the Atlantic 10 title last season.
Vishniakova, in spite of being in foul trouble for much of the game, finished with a career-high 25 points. Ugo Oha also picked up her second double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Joens was on fire from behind the arc, going 5-for-7 on her way to 21 total points.
GW 80, Dayton 57
With five players scoring in double figures, the Colonials balanced attack was more than enough to topple Dayton as GW shot over 50 percent for the first time this season.
Ugo Oha led the attack with her season-high 20 points and Elena Vishniakova and Erica Lawrence helped out inside adding 14 and 10 points respectively. Cathy Joens (17 points) and Lindsey Davidson (14 points) made sure the Colonials backcourt game matched their low post efforts.
GW 67, Fordham 53
GW overcame Fordham’s 9-0 second half run by shooting 40 percent for its second straight conference victory.
After the break, the Colonials saw a 12-point halftime lead dwindle to three until Elena Vishniakova scored 11 of her 18 total points in the second half to pull the Colonials back in the game.
GW 67, La Salle 50
Cathy Joens (16 points) led the Colonials on a 22-4 run over the first 10 minutes of the second half to overcome a first-half slump.
GW improved its shooting by 10 percent in the second half while stifling La Salle’s offense. After a quick La Salle basket to open the half, GW prevented the Rams from scoring until 12 minutes remained in the game.
Freshman Anna Montanana scored a career-high 10 points,adding six rebounds, three steals and two blocks (all career highs), earning her an A-10 Rookie of the Week honor.
Pepperdine 74, GW 72
The Colonials climbed back from a 16-point deficit but failed to rally over the Waves in the title game of the Pepperdine Holiday Classic.
GW edged Big Twelve Conference Oklahoma State University 60-58 to reach the title game. Kara Faulk blew a chance to send the game into overtime by netting only one of three fouls shots.
-Mira Katz contributed to this report