Posted Saturday, March 4, 3:55 p.m. PHILADELPHIA – Senior Jessica Simmonds had 18 points and 12 rebounds Saturday to lead the GW women’s basketball team to a 61-51 victory over Richmond in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.
“I thought she was a warrior today,” coach Joe McKeown said after the game at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse. “I thought her contributions came with leadership. She made big baskets, got big rebounds, made big defensive plays. I thought she did a great job. Being a senior, she understands playing with a sense of urgency.”
The Colonials (21-7) trailed by as much as seven early in the second half, but were sparked by 12 second-half points from sophomore Sarah-Jo Lawrence, who was recently named the A-10 sixth player of the year. The game’s momentum changed with 15 minutes remaining in the second half, when the Colonials went on a 9-0 run.
“I think she is what we need offensively to get going sometimes,” McKeown said, referring to Lawrence’s performance. “That’s why I bring her off the bench. She just understands, ‘Man, I have to get to the basket.’ She just finds ways to score when nothing else seems to be going right.”
Sophomore Kim Beck added 12 points, all in the second half.
Richmond (13-17) started the game strong, however they could not keep a solid lead, as the Colonials crept back from every deficit. A shot by Lawrence at the end of the first half put the Colonials within one, at 30-29.
“Richmond kind of packed everything in in the first half,” McKeown said. “It was just a tough half. Certain plays, like the basket Sarah-Jo made at the end of the half, it just gave us a little bit of confidence going into the locker room. That was a big basket.”
Senior Alison Mitchell had 19 points for the Spiders with sophomore Mirna Mazic adding 13. The Colonials held senior sharpshooter Araceli Gil, who had 20 the last time the two teams met, to two points. GW also had an 18-0 advantage in second-chance points.
The Colonials, who are the top seed in the tournament, will now face the host Saint Joseph’s in the conference semifinals Sunday at 2 p.m. GW will be ready to take on their opponents, Lawrence said.
“We came here to win a championship, so we don’t care who we play,” said Lawrence. “We’re just going to play hard like we did today in the second half and go for the championship.”