Even with their three seemingly impossible last-second comebacks, untimely injuries are teaching GW it is not an invincible team.
Last month, freshman Anna Montanana replaced senior Elena Vishniakova after a torn ACL ended the forward’s season. Now, Montanana is on the bench nursing a strained knee that has been a reoccurring problem all season and kept her from both weekend games.
Halfway through GW’s win over Duquesne Friday, the Colonials received another blow as Erica Lawrence went down with a knee injury. As she hobbled to the end of the bench and sat by Vishniakova, Montanana and red-shirted freshman Tylon Harris, the number of injured players it seemed outnumbered the uniformed players on the bench.
But GW proved its starters are not the only ones who can come up big in the clutch, as the team pulled out two close wins last weekend over Duquesne and Richmond to keep its 12-game winning streak alive and remain undefeated in the Atlantic 10.
Lindsey Davidson returned to the starting lineup – a first since Dec. 29. She did not disappoint, pulling in 19 points in 69 combined minutes with 11 assists last weekend.
Even more important as a sign of things to come for women’s basketball, freshmen Greeba Outen Barlow and Liz Dancause came up big and at just the right moments. In Friday’s game, it was Outen Barlow’s two foul shots that helped GW pull away from a late-game surge by the Dukes and seal the win.
The two combined for 20 points in Saturday’s win at Richmond, and Dancause’s game-high four steals proved important in an otherwise evenly matched game.
With the constant double-figure numbers from Cathy Joens and Ugo Oha and the break-out performances by the Colonial bench, the Colonials are proving that while they are not invincible, they can still win nail-biters with half their starting lineup on the bench.
GW 85, Richmond 80
Although injuries forced a new starting line up which included Valerie Williams and Lindsey Davidson, five Colonials scored in double figures to lift the Colonials over host Richmond Sunday evening.
Richmond, the newest addition to the Atlantic 10 Conference, gave GW a scare when the Spiders visited the Smith Center last month. The Colonials trailed the entire game, but pulled out a win with seven points and three steals in the final minute of play.
With two more starters down with injuries since then, and Richmond playing on its own turf, it looked like the Spiders could be the ones to snap GW’s 11-game winning streak.
But Ugo Oha’s team-leading 18 points marked a turn around from her disappointing performance Friday where she fouled out with only six points and two rebounds. Sunday, Oha was one board away from a double-double and added two blocks.
Joens continued her torrid shooting pace with 16 points. She is averaging 18 points over her last five games. Lindsey Davidson, on a streak of her own, has hit at least two three pointers in each of her last five games. She went 3-for-7 from behind the arc Sunday on her way to 13 points.
But the newest additions to the Colonials double-figure club were freshmen Greeba Outen Barlow and Liz Dancause. They each scored 10 points, a career-high for Dancause, who added a game-high four steals.
GW and Richmond were almost dead even from the field, both shooting just over 40 percent in the first half and improving to 50 percent in the second. The difference was GW’s three-point percentage, which was six percent higher than the Spiders. While three-point threat Krysten Gull lit it up from behind the arc (22 points on 4-for-10 shooting) when the Spiders came to the Smith Center, the Colonials held her to 11 points, 3-of-7 from behind the arc.
GW 63, Duquesne 59
The Colonials proved their depth goes way beyond their starting five Friday night, as their bench was an instrumental part of their 63-59 win over Duquesne Friday. With three starters sidelined with injuries by the end of the game, the bench held off a Duquesne charge for the win. Freshman Greeba Outen Barlow’s free throws with 12 seconds left secured the win.
GW, already missing senior Elena Vishniakova to an ACL tear sustained last month, was also without inside threat Anna Montanana who did not dress for Friday’s game due to an ongoing strained knee injury. McKeown said her absence was more of a precautionary measure and that he’d rather have her sit out now than risk further injury in tournament play.
Erica Lawrence and Cathy Joens picked up the slack, each with a team-high 13 points. Lawrence sustained a knee injury after coming down hard after a rebound early in the second half forcing her out for the rest of the game. Lawrence said Saturday at the men’s game she sprained her knee and that it was still swollen.
Center Ugo Oha, GW’s last big-man standing, fouled out with only six points and two rebounds.
With Lawrence and Oha out, Outen Barlow and Liz Dancause combined for 10 points during a 12-5 Colonial run that jump-started the Colonials previously slow game. GW held onto the lead for the rest of the game, though the Dukes tried to made it interesting with an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to one with just under 10 minutes remaining. GW did not score for nearly six minutes.
“We just got real sloppy in the first half and the second half we told them just be a little more patient, run your offense and make the easy play,” head coach Joe McKeown said. “We were trying to make great plays every time down instead of trying to make simple basketball plays.”