Early in November 1999, three freshmen stepped out onto the Smith Center’s Tex E. Silverman court for their first game as Colonials. They were ready to add a climactic chapter to the history of GW women’s basketball and change the face of their new team.
This November, the trio of superstars will step out on the court and try to add a happy ending to their storybook careers. In their last season together, seniors Lindsey Davidson and Erica Lawrence and red-shirt junior Cathy Joens will cap off their successful collegiate basketball careers, leaving a legacy that will not be easily forgotten.
Looking at their rookie statistics, one would never guess they were freshmen. Lawrence started at small forward. Davidson was praised for possessing leadership and composure not usually found among freshmen. Joens was fifth on the team in scoring.
That year the team went 26-6 en route to an Atlantic 10 championship title. They advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, beating a tough UCLA team. It was the players’ inherent talent that took them far, but it was these early team accomplishments that gave them confidence.
“Their confidence is based on success,” head coach Joe McKeown said of his All-Conference players. “They’ve had great careers. They know they’re good. They know what they’re capable of.”
Lawrence agreed the early successes had an influence on her present game.
“I guess there’s a certain swagger that we have to have. It’s about being confident about yourself and your team,” she said.
The three have added maturity to their game and are now busy transferring their attitude to the younger players.
“I think you can see the evolution of it,” McKeown said. “They kind of put their stamp on this team and you can see that carrying over. They want to walk out of here with their heads high, saying that they had great careers.”
Sophomore Liz Dancause said she has learned a lot from each of the seniors and that helping them go out on top is motivation to do well this year.
“There is definitely some incentive to do well for (the seniors),” she said. “They’ve worked so hard in their four years here. Our team is so tight this year; we really want to go out with a bang, the way they want.”
Lawrence said she wants to “make a little noise” before she leaves.
“I want to become the leader that everyone wants me to be,” she said.
While Lawrence and Davidson made noise in their sophomore years, Joens’ tale took a turn for the worse. She shattered her anterior cruciate ligament in the first day of preseason, disrupting her progressing career. With reconstructive surgery and months of recovery, Joens was out for her entire sophomore year.
But looking back, Joens said she did not see this as a tragedy or a career-ending incident.
“I think it gave me time to think about how to play and how to play with my teammates, and I learned a lot from it,” she said. “At the beginning it was tough because I just wanted to play, but looking back, it was a good experience.”
Meanwhile, sophomore Lawrence secured her starting position as Davidson earned her own. Lawrence led the team in scoring that year, while Davidson set the record for field goal percentage by a sophomore, shooting 73.3 percent from the field in GW’s first three A-10 games.
When Joens returned the next year, the three picked up where they left
off a year earlier, leading the team to a 21-9 season, an Atlantic 10 West division championship and a 15-1 conference record.
“It was amazing when she came back, it was like she never lost any time,” Lawrence said.
Joens scored in double digits in 27 of the 30 games she played and led the team in scoring. She was named to the A-10 All-Conference First Team and is a current All-American candidate.
Lawrence scored her 1,000th point in a Women’s National Invitational Tournament win over the University of Delaware in March. Davidson battled with an injury during the first half of the season but came back to score in double digits in seven of the last 11 games and was named the A-10’s Sixth Player of the Year.
To complete their story, each veteran has her own ideal ending in mind – winning the A-10 championship, advancing in the NCAA tournament and retaining their national ranking. Whichever happens, they all said they want to end their careers with no regrets.
“In your senior year, you don’t want to go in saying, ‘Well, I want to be an All-American,'” Davidson said. “You go into it really saying that when it’s all said and done, no one is going to remember me 20 years down the road. But when they do, they’ll remember me as being a part of a great team.”