Despite the fact that the GW women’s basketball team has never lost to La Salle or Dayton, head coach Joe McKeown is not taking either team lightly.
Wins against the Explorers and Flyers would help the Colonials pick up some ground in the Atlantic 10. GW currently sits in third place in the A-10 West, half a game behind second-place Richmond and one game behind first-place Xavier.
The Colonials (13-6, 6-2 A-10) begin at La Salle (8-11, 2-6 A-10) Friday at 7 p.m. GW has beaten the Explorers 23 straight times and has not lost to them since the 1981 season. The Colonials won all three match-ups with La Salle last year, including a 64-61 squeaker during the A-10 Tournament.
The Explorers are led by Crista Ricketts and Jill Marano, who average 16 and 12 points, respectively. It has been a challenging year for La Salle, a school that was rocked with a sexual abuse scandal last summer that forced the resignation of both the men’s and women’s basketball coaches.
“They had a lot of controversy this summer and have new coach but they return five starters from last year,” McKeown said. “They put a lot of talent on the floor and can be a very dangerous team.”
On Sunday, the Colonials will return home to square off against Dayton (10-10, 4-5 A-10) at 2 p.m. GW easily defeated the Flyers 69-41 on the road on Jan. 14. The Colonials have won all 18 of the previous meetings.
GW is currently unbeaten at the Smith Center this season (9-0) and has won 16 straight home games dating back to last season.
The Colonials are led by seniors Anna Monta?ana and Jessica Simmonds, who are each averaging 15 points per game. But Freshman Kimberly Beck has been close behind, averaging an A-10 leading 5.16 assists per game to go along with 8 points per game.
Freshman Sarah-Jo Lawrence has also become an important defensive stopper for McKeown’s club this season.
“She has really stepped up last couple of weeks,” McKeown said. “She is really starting to understand the college game right now.”
In recent games, sophomore Kristina Gineitis has shown signs of life after almost two full seasons of injuries and setbacks. Gineitis returned from injury Saturday against Rhode Island and contributed on the defensive end.
“I think she just needs to relax and stop putting pressure on herself,” McKeown said. “If she does that she can really help us down the stretch.”
When the weekend is complete, GW will begin a three-game road trip which includes games at Duquesne, Richmond and St. Joseph’s. GW is just 4-5 on the road this season.
The Colonials will finish their regular season with three straight home games against Xavier, Duquesne and La Salle beginning Feb. 20.
LoCascio re-injures ankle
Last week during practice, sophomore Amanda LoCascio sprained her right ankle while attempting a lay-up. LoCascio has been plagued by injuries all season and has appeared in just nine of the Colonials’ 19 games.
“I am probably going to be out for about two weeks,” she said. “It’s been pretty tough this year but I am working as hard as I can to get back because the season is ending soon.”
Steele to red-shirt
McKeown confirmed earlier this week that freshman Lisa Steele is in the process of being red-shirted. Steele has played in just three games this year due to a stress fracture in her foot. She also suffered a case of mononucleosis in December.