In the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament, the Villanova women’s basketball team defeated GW en route to an Elite Eight showing. That game, Colonials head coach Joe McKeown said, still sticks in his mind.
Wednesday night, McKeown showed the Wildcats that his squad could be the team going deep into March with a 73-47 victory at the Smith Center.
“I’m still mad about (2003),” McKeown said. “Probably one of the toughest losses I’ve ever had while coaching here. I thought we had a legitimate shot to make a run at the Final Four.”
The win Wednesday, which brings a No. 20/21 GW (AP, ESPN/USA Today) team to 6-1, ties the second-best start in program history. To start the 1991-1992 season, GW went 13-1. In 1994-1995 and 1980-1981, GW also started out 6-1.
Paced by sophomore Jessica Adair’s second-straight double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) and junior Kim Beck’s 18 points, the Colonials jumped out to an early lead.
A stark contrast to the team’s other five victories, GW appeared poised in the first half of the contest. After a 15-2 run to end the first half, the Colonials’ lead dropped below double digits just once.
“I thought we played great defense and that was the difference,” McKeown said. “Jessica Adair physically dominated the game in the paint. She’s capable of doing that.”
Villanova coach Harry Perretta, who has spent 28 years with the Wildcats (3-4), said that junior Whitney Allen was instrumental in stopping senior Jackie Adamshick, Villanova’s leading scorer. After averaging 17.3 points in the Wildcats’ first six games, Allen held the forward to just eight points.
“She played (Adamshick) really tough,” Perretta said. “She didn’t give her a lot of looks at the basket. She did the right thing. She kept her from touching the ball. I thought (Allen) did a really good job making her work to score.”
The Wildcats turned the ball over 19 times while converting 13 field goals. The Colonials, in comparison, had only 10 turnovers on 27-for-61 shooting. Senior Kenan Cole had 13 points and junior Sarah-Jo Lawrence added 10 points.
Perretta complimented GW on its ability to take advantage of the Wildcats’ young squad. Villanova’s starting lineup included just one senior along with one sophomore and three freshmen.
“When you have a young team, you don’t play well enough at any one time,” Perretta said. “Good teams are taking advantages of ugly mistakes, which they should do. This is a really deep team.”
GW’s next game is Saturday at Stony Brook (N.Y.). On Dec. 7, the Colonials head to Knoxville, Tenn., for a matchup against the No. 4 Lady Volunteers. McKeown said that both games will be challenges.
“Stony Brook doesn’t sound tough but they’re very good,” McKeown said. “Our kids are excited (about Tennessee). We traditionally play them tough.”