The GW women’s basketball team had high expectations and set appropriately fitting goals heading into this season. But after a stunning loss at home to St. Joseph’s last Saturday, the Colonials’ longtime dominance of the Atlantic 10 appeared in question. This past weekend, GW made that question disappear with two convincing wins.
The Colonials (11-5, 4-1 A-10) completely shut down Richmond’s high-powered offense in an 86-60 rout Friday, and then GW’s own offense played superbly in an 85-72 victory Sunday at La Salle. Both games were blowouts by halftime.
“We’re shooting over 50 percent in the last two games, we’re taking better shots (and) we’re a little more patient,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said of the team’s improvement. “We’re not turning the ball over, we’re executing better. (It’s a) good time.”
The Colonials’ offense had a particularly good time against La Salle (8-7, 1-4 A-10), as four GW players finished in double figures and the team shot 51 percent from the field.
Senior Cathy Joens led GW in scoring with 27 points and added nine rebounds and four assists. Senior Valerie Williams came off the bench to score 19 points on 7-for-7 shooting.
“Long term, for us to win a championship, we gotta get production from her off the bench,” McKeown said of William’s importance. “She’s gotta get us double figures, in that range. You saw how sorely we missed her against St. Joe’s when she was 1-for-5. We need that scoring punch inside.”
If Williams was the surprising uppercut inside, senior Ugo Oha was the consistent right jab, scoring 15 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and making six blocks against the Explorers.
“We’ve been challenging her to dominate again,” McKeown said. “Blocked shot, rebounds, scoring … just to be a great player.”
The only negative Sunday came when freshman Corrine Turner injured her knee. She had an MRI Sunday night, but the results have not been disclosed.
Sunday’s game was effectively decided in the first half, when GW went on an 11-0 run midway through the half to take a 31-17 game. The Colonials would take a 45-29 lead into halftime and then keep that lead in double digits for the rest of the game.
Friday’s game against Richmond (13-4, 5-1 A-10) saw an even more impressive first-half performance, as GW held the Spiders to 14 points in the first 20 minutes. The Colonials were sparked offensively by the hot start of senior Marshiek Witherspoon, who scored 10 of her career-high 16 points in the half.
The Spiders came into the game undefeated in conference play but they were humbled early as a 40-7 run sent the Colonials to the locker room with a 44-14 lead. GW shot 69 percent in the half while holding the Spiders to less than 20 percent shooting.
The Colonials started the second half with a 14-4 run to take an astounding 40-point lead and never looked back. Joens hit five of her six three-pointers in the second half and finished with 22 points.
“I think my team was getting me open,” Joens said. “It helps so much when everyone’s a threat. Corrine was scoring inside, Marsheik was making every shot, (and) it opened up the outside because we ran the inside-outside game.”
Oha had 14 points and three blocks, and Williams had 10 points. Junior Anna Montanana had 10 rebounds and 11 assists while scoring a season-low two points.
Turner came off the bench and scored a career-high 15 points while shooting 6-for-8 from the floor.
GW’s next game is a 7 p.m. tip-off Friday at St. Bonaventure.