Winter break was truly a tale of two teams for the GW women’s basketball team, and, appropriately, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times for head coach Joe McKeown.
He saw the Colonials (8-5, 3-0 Atlantic 10) drop their first four road games over break, marking the first time since 1993 that his team lost four straight games.
But after returning to the Smith Center, the Colonials started a new streak with a win over Fairfield and added to it with conference wins over Richmond and St. Bonaventure. With a last-second win over Temple Sunday in Philadelphia, the women notched their fourth-straight win, completing the turn around.
The four wins gave head coach Joe McKeown his 300th career victory at GW and kept the Colonials’ status as one of only two A-10 teams undefeated in conference play. But the damage had been done.
The team held a No. 21 (Associated Press) ranking after an impressive romp over Brigham Young University, but a one-week break for finals stopped their momentum. Trips to George Mason, DePaul, Rutgers and Georgetown all resulted in defeats, dropping GW out of the Top 25 rankings.
“After the four losses, our confidence was really low going into the Fairfield game,” senior point guard Lindsey Davidson said. “I think we needed a game where we could go out and make mistakes and play through them. With each game that passes, we’ll play better.”
Confidence was not the only shaky aspect of the Colonials’ game, however. Excessive turnovers (27 against Temple Sunday) have resulted in easy points for the opposition.
“Our turnovers are our big problem, but we know we need to work on them and we’ve addressed the situation,” Davidson said.
GW 57, Temple 55
Sunday, Jan. 12
The venue changed and the situation was slightly different, but for the second straight January, a last second basket by sophomore Anna Montanana gave GW a victory over Temple.
This time, the score was tied with less than 10 seconds to go when Montanana posted up on the right block, backed in her defender and darted left across the lane and put up a right-handed baby hook that sailed smoothly into the hoop for a 57-55 victory with four seconds remaining.
“They didn’t double team me, and I felt very confident,” Montanana said of the shot.
A desperation three-point attempt by Temple’s Stacey Smalls from nearly half court missed and GW left with a 57-55 victory.
Montanana’s game winner was reminiscent of last year’s last-second lay up, when she grabbed a rebound from an Ugo Oha miss and put it back for a 54-53 comeback victory.
This year, the forward’s late-game heroics were set up by two GW miscues on the defensive glass. The Colonials had a three-point lead with less than 30 seconds to play when Temple missed an easy lay up and GW missed the rebound. The Colonials failed to grab another reboun after
Smalls’ foul shots and Candice Dupree made a lay up to tie the game.
GW won despite a season-high 27 turnovers, which resulted in 22 points for Temple.
GW 65, St. Bonaventure 49
Thursday, Jan. 9
At halftime, it looked like the Bonnies were on track to do the unthinkable – beat the Colonial women at home in a conference game. But the Colonials came out of the locker room juiced, putting together a 11-0 run to grab a 65-49 victory, head coach Joe McKeown’s 300th at GW.
Down 31-27, the GW women gave up 16 first-half turnovers, leading to 12 Saint Bonaventure points. They were out-rebounded 24-19 with only four offensive rebounds to the Bonnies’ 11.
But McKeown challenged his team at halftime and they responded. After St. Bonaventure opened up its biggest lead of the game, a 10-point lead two minutes into the first half, the Colonials went on their 11-0 run to take the 39-38 lead. The Colonials gave up only six second-half turnovers while scoring 19 points of 11 Bonnie turnovers.
A 19-3 Colonial run gave GW its biggest lead of the evening at 18 and put the game well out of reach.
GW 55, Richmond 49
Tuesday, Jan. 7
GW knew its first conference game would be no cake-walk with opponent Richmond leading the Atlantic 10 in scoring. But the Colonials held off a second-half surge by the Spiders and took a 55-49 victory at the Smith Center.
The Colonials held the Spiders to only 21 points in the first half on 10-for-29 shooting. Meanwhile, GW’s offense got the job done, shooting 56 percent (13-for-23) in the first half.
Richmond launched a 15-5 run 10 minutes into the second half, tying the game at 36. But the Colonials did not allow Richmond to take advantage of the run, countering with their own 6-0 streak, keeping the game out of reach.
GW 84, Fairfield 65
Saturday, Jan. 4
Four Colonials scored in double figures as GW snapped its four-game losing streak with an 84-65 victory over the Fairfield Stags at the Smith Center.
Juniors Ugo Oha and Valerie Williams dominated the paint, leading GW with 18 points apiece. Senior Lindsey Davidson and sophomore Anna Montanana chipped in with 16 and 10 points, respectively.
Georgetown 70, GW 65
Thursday, Jan. 2
The Colonials overcame an 11-point deficit and held a two-point lead with over a minute remaining, but could not complete the comeback, losing to host Georgetown 70-65.
A lay-up by Georgetown forward Nok Duany and a three-pointer from guard Mary Lisicky in the closing seconds gave the Hoya’s their lead back for good.
Four Colonials scored in double figures in the losing effort, led by Ugo Oha’s 20 points. Anna Montanana added a career-high 16 while Lindsey Davidson and Erica Lawrence added 13 and 12, respectively.
Rutgers 87, GW 72
Sunday, Dec. 29
Twenty-four GW turnovers led to 32 Rutgers points, giving the Scarlet Knights the 87-72 edge over the Colonials in Piscataway N.J.
GW’s errors overshadowed an otherwise impressive offensive performance. The Colonials shot 56.3 percent from the field, going 7-for-14 from behind the three-point line.
Five Colonials scored in double figures, led by senior Cathy Joens’ 14 points and senior Erica Lawrence’s 13 points. Joens shot 5-for-13 on the day including nine points from behind the arc. Ugo Oha, Lindsey Davidson and Anna Montanana added eleven each.
DePaul 64, GW 46
Sunday, Dec. 22
GW lost its second straight game to an unranked opponent, falling 64-46 to host DePaul University.
Cathy Joens (12 points on 4-for-12 shooting) was the only Colonial in double digits Sunday while Khara Smith’s 13 points and 10 rebounds led a balanced Blue Demon attack that saw four players with over 10 points. Sarah Kustok and Jenni Dant also scored 13 points while Ashley Luke contributed 12 for DePaul (9-3).
George Mason 63, GW 57
Friday, Dec. 20
The Colonials looked rusty in a 63-57 loss to George Mason. The game was GW’s first after a nine-day break for finals. The win was the Patriots’ first against a ranked opponent since Dec. 30, 1996 when they beat No. 10 Auburn.
The Colonials shot 41 percent on the day and were especially sporadic behind the three-point line, where they shot only 15 percent (3-for-20). GW was no better from the charity stripe, where the Colonials converted only 6-of-14 free throw attempts. Leading scorer Cathy Joens struggled individually, going 1-for-12 from behind the arc to finish with only seven points.
–Lauren Silva and Lauren Kornreich contributed to this report.