As snow settled outside the Smith Center Wednesday night, the GW women’s basketball team’s trademark “blizzard” zone defense worked wonders on No. 25 (ESPN/USA Today) Richmond. The Colonials’ stifling effort helped upset the Atlantic 10 West leading Spiders 69-57.
“I was really proud of our defense tonight,” McKeown said. “We contested almost every shot they took.”
The Colonials suffocated the Spiders defensively, forcing 19 turnovers, as Richmond scored less than 60 points for only the second time this season.
“They know us inside and out and I think they came out more focused and more ready to play and they were just really hungry for this game,” Richmond head coach Joanne Boyle said. “They know our weaknesses and they came out and pressured and we got back on our heels. They took us out of our game altogether with the pressure and we just didn’t respond. Honestly, they outworked us.”
The key to the victory, players said, was holding the A-10’s leading scorer, Kate Flavin (18 points per game), to just eight points.
“I think our defense did a great job boxing her out because she gets a lot of points off of offensive rebounds,” senior Anna Monta?ana said. “She is not a player that gets the ball and creates by herself. She needs to receive the ball to score her points.”
“We made her work for everything and we just took away her aggressiveness,” he said. “I think Whitney Allen and Liz Dancause did a great job defending her tonight.”
After last Sunday’s loss at Xavier, when GW struggled to score just 42 points, the offense rebounded. Leading the charge was senior Jessica Simmonds, who scored 11 of her 17 points in the second half. Monta?ana scored 14 points (3-for-5 from beyond the arc). Freshman Kimberly Beck had 11 points and seven assists.
After a seesaw first half, the Colonials took a 35-28 lead into the break. After intermission, Simmonds returned to the lineup after early foul trouble, scoring a quick five points to spark a 10-4 run that built a 45-32 lead. However, the Spiders responded, going on a 13-4 run that included 11 points from Kelly Roche.
With Richmond trailing 51-47, the Colonials mounted their own charge. With less than eight minutes to go, GW went on a 13-5 run to increase its lead to 64-51 and seal the game. Simmonds put an emphatic cap on the spurt by completing a three-point play after a lay-in.
The Colonials have won 14 consecutive games at the Smith Center dating back to last season. GW also moved to 9-1 all-time against the Spiders.
During the first half, Monta?ana and Beck connected on several flashy plays. Monta?ana displayed good vision and dribbling skills to find Beck perfectly for two uncontested lay-ups.
“(Beck) sees the floor kind of like I see it,” Monta?ana said. “I was surprised – normally I would throw that ball and it would go out of bounds, but I was happy that she was there.”
GW returns to action Sunday against St. Bonaventure at the Smith Center at 2 p.m.
Steele sits with injury
Freshman Lisa Steele again did not dress for Wednesday night’s game due to a stress fracture in her foot. McKeown said there is possibility she could be out for the season, but no decision will be made until Steele has an MRI later this week.