After the GW women’s basketball team beat La Salle 81-64 Saturday, the focus was supposed to be on Joe McKeown’s milestone victory. But the head coach had to share the spotlight with one of his players, junior Anna Montanana, after an impressive achievement of her own.
Several times this year, Montanana flirted with a triple-double, coming within one assist on Thursday. But a three-pointer midway through the second half Saturday gave the Spaniard her 11th point to go with 11 rebounds and 10 assists at the time.
She would finish the game with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists to record only the second triple-double in GW women’s basketball history, the first coming from Kristin McArdle in 1992 against Rhode Island.
“I don’t feel right now like I played a great game,” Montanana said. “There have been other games that have been better. But the stats, the numbers, it doesn’t really matter to me.
“I would be happier if instead of 5-of-12 (from the field) I would have (been) 9-of-12, but not everything is possible. I’m pretty happy,” she said.
For McKeown, the win marked the 400th victory of his 18-year career, 15 of those easons coming at GW. McKeown now ranks 41st on the active head coaching list for wins in women’s college basketball, but everyone above him has been a head coach longer.
After the game, he reminisced about his first win while coaching at New Mexico State, GW’s rise to prominence in the early and mid-’90s and the fact that he never expected this day to come when he arrived at GW in 1989.
“I had a contract with Converse at New Mexico State and I called the lady up and said, ‘I’m going to take the job at George Washington’ and she said, ‘I’ll send a guy up to meet you.’ And the guy comes up to me and says, ‘Are you crazy? This is a graveyard. You can’t win here.'”
“So no, (I didn’t expect this). I thought I could come here, turn it around, and maybe get out of here before I got fired, but I’m still here.”
Still here and still in first place in the Atlantic 10 West after routing La Salle (10-9, 3-6 A-10) in a contest that became a blowout in the first half.
Seven minutes into the game, GW (14-5, 7-1 A-10) held a three-point advantage but then went on a 12-2 run to take a 28-15 lead. The Colonials entered halftime up by 11, and the Explorers could never cut the deficit to single-digits over the remaining 20 minutes.
Senior Cathy Joens scored 22 points while grabbing five rebounds, and senior Ugo Oha finished with 18 points and five rebounds. Senior Val Williams continued to be effective off the bench, contributing 12 points and five rebounds. But after the game, the focus was on Montanana, who added five steals to her impressive stat line.
“You (normally) don’t have somebody who can score, rebound and pass the ball like that,” Joens said. “You have two of them but you won’t get three, so it’s rare in college basketball. Obviously I’m glad she’s on my team and not anybody else’s.”
McKeown said Montanana reminds him of McArdle, who had 11 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists when she recorded the school’s first triple-double. Both are able to play any position on the floor, allowing the coach some creative flexibility.
“I sit up at night and I just start x-and-o-ing and start dabbling a bit and I come up with things,” he said. “But you can just use your imagination because (Montanana) can create anything, almost. It’s kind of like clay, you can just mold it into any position.”
Montanana had 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in GW’s 88-71 win over Duquesne (10-9, 5-3 A-10) Thursday at the Smith Center. With a little less than two minutes left, she dove for a loose ball and took a shoe to the nose, sending her to the bench for the remainder of the game and leaving her just short of the triple-double.
But stardom in that game had already been reserved by Joens, who scored a season-high 32 points while adding nine rebounds and five assists. Joens is currently tied for second in conference scoring at 19.4 points per game.
The Colonials shot 70 percent in the second half against Duquesne, turning a six-point halftime lead into an easy win. GW returns to action Friday at the Smith Center in a 7 p.m. tip-off against Fordham.
–Joshua Meredith contributed to this report.