The lone senior on the GW women’s basketball team, guard Kenan Cole, may occasionally get overlooked with Atlantic 10 preseason first-team members Kim Beck and Sarah-Jo Lawrence in the same backcourt. But last year’s Academic Excellence Award recipient made her presence known with a team-leading 23 points and 8 rebounds in Friday’s 70-63 preseason win over the Lake Truck Lines, a collection of various professional players, at the Smith Center.
“[Cole’s] a workaholic,” 18-year head coach Joe McKeown said. “She’s just one of those people that is a self-made player. She doesn’t have the natural athletic ability that you see sometimes, so she just made herself into a better player.”
The Colonials stuck it to Lake Truck from the opening tip, jumping out to an early lead courtesy of a 12-0 run to start the game. GW maintained a comfortable lead until the final few minutes when Lake Truck went on a 10-2 run to cut the seemingly insurmountable lead to 67-61 with 34.1 seconds remaining.
Cole responded by converting twice from the free throw line, and the Colonials managed to force a turnover by Lake Truck forward Brandi Teamer on the other end and secure the win.
En route to shooting 42.9 percent from the field compared to Lake Truck’s 34.8 percent, the Colonials shot 40 percent from behind the arc, an improvement over last year’s excruciating 29.3 percent.
“We were pathetic last year, and I’ll be the first to admit it,” McKeown said. “Beck bailed us out a little bit last year and that was it. We’re a little better now, and we’ve practiced it.”
Beck also played a leading role in the victory, shooting 7 of 11 from the field, including three of four from downtown, for 17 points while dishing out five assists.
McKeown expressed his concern with the lack of scoring from the post players, noting that forwards Jazmine Adair and Chantelle John, both sophomores, will need to step their game up in order for the Colonials to be successful.
“We didn’t get a lot of production from our post game at all, and that’s what we need to get,” the coach said. “I just can’t depend on the perimeter the whole time. Obviously, if we have to we will because we do what we have to do to win, but I think that to be a great team, we have these big kids, and they need to play well.”
After hitting two jumpers in the opening minutes of the game, Adair picked up two quick fouls and lacked aggressiveness from that point on, McKeown said.
“I don’t expect fouls to be an issue with her. She did a great job last year for the most part staying out of trouble,” he said. “Tonight in the second half I thought she was a little tentative, didn’t block shots, and didn’t rebound … She’s been unbelievable in practice so I was a little surprised that she struggled.”
McKeown said that he expects contributions from newcomers Stefani Munro, Ivy Abiona and Robin Murphy this season, and may look to some assistance from above to get red-shirt sophomore Lisa Steele, who has received limited playing time over the past two years due to a stress fracture deep in her left foot, on the floor.
Forward Chelsea Grear scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Lake Truck, while Washington Mystics guard Nikki Blue scored 14 points and handed out six assists to help the cause.
Jessica Adair did not play due to the coach’s decision, but McKeown said that she will be ready for the season opener on Friday against Maryland-Baltimore County at the Smith Center.