By leading Villanova 37-20 at halftime and winning 73-47, the GW women’s basketball team reversed a recent undesirable trend. Prior to Wednesday night, the squad has been plagued by sluggish first-half starts. They have routinely found themselves facing early deficits, forcing them to play from behind.
The Colonials trailed James Madison University by 16 points in the first half on Saturday before eventually rallying to win 68-56. In wins against Arizona and TCU earlier this month, the women also found themselves behind in the first half by nine and seven points, respectively.
“A big key just going into this game was to put together a complete game,” said junior guard Kimberly Beck.
GW head coach Joe McKeown said that a lack of cohesion leads to difficulties early in games. He also mentioned that key injuries, including a foot injury to sophomore center Jazmine Adair, have slowed the team.
Over the last two years, the women’s basketball team finished with the best Atlantic 10 regular season record. Coupled with their regular season success is the Colonials’ postseason accomplishment of reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament both years.
With only one senior graduating from last year’s squad, the women seem to be hungry for more. McKeown has fed this hunger by forming a schedule with a steady diet of tournament-bound teams. Many of these schools are enriched with basketball history and hail from major conferences like the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast Conferences. In order for GW to become a “giant” basketball program again, as McKeown seeks to become, the team feels it must start off games strong.
The women are in the midst of the most challenging section of their non-conference schedule. In an 11-game span, the Colonials will face six teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last March. Their opponents include powerhouses Georgia, Tennessee and defending national champion Maryland.
McKeown said the variety of offensive choices makes this year’s team tough to handle in game situations.
“When we made that run at the end of the first half … we went inside to (sophomore center Jessica Adair) and when (Villanova double-teamed) her, she kicked it out and (we made three point shots),” McKeown said. “When you can play inside-out, you’re really a tough match-up. The best part about it was that we were shutting them down (on defense).”