Women lock up A-10 West with two weekend wins

The GW women’s basketball team came into last weekend knowing wins over Duquesne and La Salle would produce a division title for the fifth time in six seasons. The Colonials trailed at halftime in both games but used tremendous second half efforts to pull out victories and lock up the Atlantic 10 West regular season title.

GW is the No. 1 seed and will have a first round bye in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, which will begin Friday at the Smith Center. The Colonials will play Saturday at 4 p.m. against the winner of No. 4 Fordham and No. 5 Dayton.

On Sunday, GW held on to beat La Salle 47-46 on senior Anna Monta?ana’s late free throw. On Thursday, GW had to overcome four Duquesne players in double figures to record a 68-60 victory.

The week will give the Colonials time to rest and prepare for the tourney.

“We need to get some time to let some bumps and bruises heal because right now I am not sure if we could play four games in four days,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said. “You can’t have any let downs in the tournament, you can’t have one bad half.”

Monta?ana and Liz Dancause played their final regular season home game at the Smith Center on senior day Sunday, even though the Colonials (20-7, 13-3 A-10) host the conference tourney.

However, when the game began the two did not have their best efforts Sunday. Monta?ana had 11 points on just 4-for-13 shooting, while Dancause was 0-for-4 from the field and had just three points.

“I am not really happy because we played a really bad game,” Monta?ana said. “I didn’t hit shots that I wanted, but a win is a win. (La Salle) plays with nothing to lose, they have no pressure. They just throw it up there because they are not playing for first place.”

GW built an early 13-4 lead over the first nine minutes, but scored just six points for the rest of the half and trailed at halftime 21-19. During the second half, the Colonials eventually took a two-point lead and looked ready to put the game away. But on several key possessions they failed to build on a big lead and La Salle (12-15, 6-10 A-10) kept the score close.

Even after GW turned the ball over 16 times and was out-rebounded 42-28, it held a four-point lead with a 1:20 remaining in regulation. La Salle responded by hitting a lay-up followed by two Davineia free throws after a Kimberly Beck foul to tie the score.

With the score knotted at 46, Monta?ana was fouled on the floor. She hit the first end of a one-and-one but missed the second with just over four seconds remaining. Payne grabbed the rebound and flew down the court before missing a shot from the foul line, which would have won the game.

Senior Jessica Simmonds struggled to find a rhythm during the game, scoring just eight points on 4-of-9 shooting.

“She played a little uptight today and missed some easy shots,” McKeown said. “Since we aren’t very big so she has had to play really big for us and she has faced some double team’s and zones that congest the middle.”

The Colonials might have been able to put away the Explorers earlier if they were better than 5-for-12 from the free throw line.

The win was GW’s seventh consecutive victory and 20th straight victory at the Smith Center. The Colonials won all 13 home games this season, a feat they have only completed twice in program history (1995-96 and 1999-00).

Thursday, GW had rough start against Duquesne (10-17, 5-11 A-10) but overcame a 35-34 halftime deficit to win by eight. Monta?ana (20 points, 10 rebounds) recorded her fifth double double of the season.

Harris honored

Tylon Harris, who has sat out the last two seasons with a career-ending knee injury, was also honored Sunday. “I wish everyone could have seen Tylon Harris play when she was healthy,” McKeown said. “She was something special.”

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