The GW women’s basketball team started Friday night’s game at St. Bonaventure much like the weather in Olean, N.Y. – ice cold. But a strong finish led by senior Cathy Joens gave the Colonials a 73-61 win despite their lackluster performance.
With GW’s victory and Richmond’s overtime loss to Temple Friday, the Colonials (12-5, 5-1 A-10) moved into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 West. Since losing to St. Joseph’s on Jan. 10, GW has won four in a row, averaging more than 70 points per game over that span.
But Friday’s showing lacked the dominance of their prior three games.
“(St. Bonaventure) had that underdog mentality, and for us, coming into a small town with snow and a small gym, it’s hard to get real excited about a game like that,” senior center Ugo Oha said. “Not every game we play is going to be easy. Sometimes we just have to come out and fight.”
The turning point in Friday’s game came with the Colonials leading 59-57 with just over five minutes remaining. Two defensive stops by the Colonials led to free throws by Oha and Joens that extended the lead to six. Then Joens took a charge from junior Stef Collins that sent the Bonnies’ leading scorer to the bench with her fifth foul.
GW added six more points, including a three-pointer from Joens, as part of a 12-0 run that gave the Colonials a commanding 71-57 lead with two minutes left.
Joens finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists as she went 5-for-10 from behind the arc. Oha added 18 points, six rebounds and four blocks, while junior Anna Montanana had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“I think they came in really excited to play us,” Montanana said. “(St. Bonaventure) had a lot of good players and a lot of heart. In the second half we started to just play better. On defense we didn’t allow them to score every time down, and on offense we got more aggressive.”
The Bonnies’ downfall came from behind the arc, where they shot just 20 percent on 6-for-29 shooting. From the field, St. Bonaventure shot 42 percent in the first half but could hit only 31 percent of its shots in the second half.
Turnovers contributed to GW’s slow start, as the Colonials gave the ball away nine times in the first half. Despite shooting 45 percent in the first 20 minutes, the Colonials led just 33-32 at the half.
GW came out of the locker room and opened an 11-point lead, but the Bonnies cut the deficit back to single digits before the Colonials’ game-clinching run.
The Colonials return to action Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Smith Center against Duquesne.