Thursday night’s exhibition game for the GW women’s basketball team was primarily meant to be a showcase for the less experienced players. But once the game got close, it was GW’s seniors who led the team to victory.
After blowing a 10-point second half lead, the Colonials found themselves trailing the National Women’s Basketball League Elite East Team 74-73 with less than a minute to play. Following a timeout, the Colonials had senior center Ugo Oha stand at the top of the key and senior forward Cathy Joens post up down low. Oha fed a pass over the top to Joens, who went up quickly with a lay-up to give GW the lead.
After a missed jumper by the NWBL team, Joens converted one of two free throws with ten seconds to play. Former Colonial Kristeena Alexander tried to drive the lane for the NWBL team, but her game-tying attempt was swatted away by Oha with less than a second remaining to seal GW’s 76-74 win.
Despite GW head coach Joe McKeown’s statements earlier in the week that he doesn’t put much stock in the outcome of exhibition games, he said he still wanted to win once the game got serious.
“Anytime you keep score and you get into the last two minutes and you have a game,” he said, “you work really hard in practice and want your kids to try to figure out a way to win.”
Joens led all scorers in the game with 18 points while adding six rebounds and five steals. Oha had 16 points to go with her five rebounds, and junior Anna Montanana tallied 14 points to go with her team-high eight rebounds and five assists. One of those assists may have been Montanana’s finest as a Colonial, which says a lot for a player McKeown often compares to Magic Johnson.
With GW leading 62-54 in the second half, Montanana pushed the ball up court with a three-on-one advantage. Driving through the lane, she used her right hand to wrap the ball around the left side of her body and behind her back as she did a half-turn. The pass found senior Michaela Leary on the baseline, who then converted a short jumper.
The crowd stood, cheered and laughed in disbelief, as an equally amused McKeown buried his head in his hands. The coach said that type of play makes Montanana’s six turnovers in the game a little more bearable.
“The thing with Anna is, she’s so creative that you’re going to have to learn to live with some things,” he said. “It’s a thin line. You don’t want to turn her into a conservative player, but she has to make great decisions.”
Freshman Corrine Turner put forth the Colonials’ other notable performance, scoring 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting while grabbing four rebounds in 17 minutes.
Senior point guard Marsheik Witherspoon sat out with a sprained shoulder and senior Val Williams was limited to 13 minutes because of a nagging ankle sprain. But both players are expected to be available at 7 p.m. Friday at the Smith Center when GW opens its season against Georgetown, which has beaten the Colonials in each of the last two years.