The good news is that it was only an exhibition game. The bad news is it was an exhibition of sloppiness for the Colonial Women, who suffered a 69-67 loss to the Hungarian team Zala Volan in front of 341 at the Smith Center Tuesday night.
Trailing by two points with nine seconds remaining, the Colonials could not complete a comeback, missing key defensive rebounds after having to force Zala to the line.
With just under five minutes remaining, the Colonials had battled back from a seven-point deficit for the game’s eighth tie of the evening. Trailing 50-57, senior shooting guard Lindsey Davidson’s three-pointer set the wheels in motion, and a steal by junior forward Valerie Williams and subsequent dish to Ugo Oha for the bucket pushed GW closer. The Colonials tied it at 61 on an Oha jumper from Davidson.
The teams traded leads for the next five possessions, but Zala’s Zsuzanna Horvath’s three pointer with 2:07 remaining dampened any hopes of a comeback, as the Colonials could not regain the lead.
The loss should not hurt GW in the rankings (they were recently ranked No. 21 on the Associated Press top 25 poll) but does show the Colonials they need to shake off the dust fast if they are to compete with tough early-season opponents like Tennessee and Syracuse.
Last night, the Hungarian team took on future GW opponent Georgetown, suffering a brutal 80-55 loss. But the Colonials had no such luck.
While the GW’s inability to close off the game was particularly frustrating for head coach Joe McKeown and his players, it did not come as much of a surprise given the earlier play. At the end of the first half team-leading rebounder, center Oha, had none. The team had 11 turnovers. By the end of the game they would have 20, resulting in 20 Zala points compared to the eight points GW scored off of Zala’s 18 turnovers.
With leading-scorer Cathy Joens on the bench nursing an ankle injury, the Colonials back court game suffered. The team’s average from the three point range was a dismal 14.3% (1-7) and no one scored for the first 1.68 seconds of the game as both teams combined to miss four shots in that time. The lack of an outside threat made it easier for Zala to close in on GW’s usually strong inside game, preventing Oha from completely dominating.
The game marked a homecoming of sorts for Zala’s Jana Lichnerova, a senior on the 1998-1999 Saint Joseph’s team that beat the Colonials in that year’s Atlantic 10 Championship Finals. She burned the GW again tonight, one of four Hungarian players to score in double digits with 18 points.
There were some bright spots for the Colonials. Oha matched Lichnerova, scoring a team-high 18 points while Valerie Williams came from nowhere to tally 11 points. At times, she looked better in the paint than Oha, grabbing key rebounds (6) and providing a stronger inside presence than her 6-foot-1 frame would suggest.
The Colonials have almost three weeks to prepare for their opening game of the season against the Howard Bison. GW escaped with only a two-point loss tonight, but if the kinks are not worked out by then, upcoming opponents No. 2 Tennessee and Syracuse will take serious advantage, and that will hurt GW in the rankings.