Most GW students return to campus after a month of relaxation. The women’s basketball team showed on Sunday how they spent their winter break: winning.
The Colonials’ 64-58 victory over visiting Xavier gave GW its eighth straight home win and ninth triumph in their past 10 games. They are also the only undefeated team in the Atlantic 10.
With the win, the squad broke into the Associated Press top 25 at No. 25 Monday.
“When you are in the top 25, it brings a little more attention to your program, helps you a little bit with recruiting, but I don’t spend a lot of time on it with my team,” GW Coach Joe McKeown said Sunday, before the rankings were released Monday. “There’s some politics to it.”
The Colonials now go on the road for six of their next eight games. They will face Rhode Island on Jan. 20 followed by Massachusetts on Jan. 22.
“We feel like we are where we should be, we feel like we were the team on top all along; no matter what the (top-25) votes look like, we still feel like we’re going to come out on top,” sophomore Sarah-Jo Lawrence said before knowing the new rankings. “Playing other teams in the A-10, we’re still the team to beat, and we’re going to come out strong.”
On Sunday, Lawrence led the Colonials’ (11-4, 4-0 A-10) attack with 15 points off the bench. Junior Kenan Cole added 14 points, while sophomore Kim Beck had 10.
Senior Jessica Simmonds recorded 14 points despite being the focus of the Musketeer defense the entire game. She also had seven assists, tying her individual game high.
“She played an excellent game, she’s a really talented post player,” Xavier coach Kevin McGuff said. “When we came and double teamed her, she found the open people and that was really effective.”
Simmonds said that passing is an added dimension to her game.
“I think that because I’m a focus on a lot of people’s scouting reports, they tend to double-team me a lot, so that creates a lot for my team,” Simmonds said.
“Jessica’s a phenomenal passer, and we just have to show ourselves a little and she can find us,” Lawrence said. “Wherever I go, she usually finds me,”
Junior Suntana Granderson led the Xavier attack with 21 points. Senior Tara Boothe added 13 points and nine rebounds.
With 1:26 remaining, Boothe made a two-point jumper to cut the Colonials’ lead to four. The shot also gave Boothe her 2,000th collegiate point. Sophomore Candyce Bingham rounded out the Musketeers’ double-digit scorers with 12.
The Colonials led 31-25 at halftime after leading by 11 with 2:44 remaining in the first half following a 9-0 run.
The Musketeers came out strong in the second half; however, matching the Colonials’ 33 second-half points was not enough to secure the win.
“The mentality of how we were playing, they really had us back on our heels. In the second half we attacked them more when in the first half,” McGuff said.
The Colonials’ on-court chemistry seems to be coming together after a rocky start. McGuff said that since the departure of standout Anna Monta?ana, the Colonials offensive fluidity has improved.
“I think they’ve probably gotten better, they look like they’ve got great team chemistry, they really share the ball on offense, and their defense is outstanding,” McGuff said. n