Just over three weeks ago, the GW women’s basketball team hosted Richmond and beat them 57-50 – a win that didn’t come easily.
Richmond controlled the lead for a good portion of the first half and fought back every time No. 11/12 GW (AP, ESPN/USA Today) gained a significant lead in the second half. The two teams battle again Saturday, when the Colonials (17-2, 7-0 Atlantic 10) travel to Richmond (10-12, 4-3 A-10) for the final leg of a four-game road trip.
Although the Spiders’ record does not sound intimidating, Richmond is a program that has played GW tough in recent years. Last season, the two teams split meetings, each earning the win on the road. The Colonials’ win was by 11, while its loss was by four.
“Games against Richmond have always been great games, they’ve been really competitive,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said. “We’ve had some wild finishes. Their record is a little bit deceiving because they’re a very good program, a very good team.”
Like the Colonials, the Spiders faced a slew of top teams in out-of-conference play this season, including No. 6/5 Connecticut, Notre Dame and No. 14 Georgia, whom GW defeated in late December. Playing ranked opponents is not new to Richmond and may not faze the squad on Saturday.
Against GW earlier this year, junior Christina Campion scored 22 points on 9-for-19 shooting, including 3-for-6 from behind the arc, two of which came late in the second half. Junior Whitney Allen and senior Kenan Cole were the Colonials’ leading scorers with 14 points each, while sophomore Jazmine Adair had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Guarding the six-foot Campion will be key for the Colonials.
“I thought (Campion) got loose. She’s a tough match-up because she can go inside and outside. We’re going to have to make sure that we cover her all over the court,” McKeown said.
McKeown added that he doesn’t expect his squad to make a lot of defensive changes. Rather, keeping the opponents to a low shooting percentage, like the Colonials did by holding the Spiders to 37 percent from the floor in the last match-up, is important.
“We’ll just play the way we normally play. I don’t know that we need to change a lot of things, other than not give (Campion) a lot of open looks,” McKeown said. “They’re dangerous because they have a lot of good three-point shooters that I thought we defended pretty well. But people tend to shoot the ball better at home. That’s what makes them dangerous. They just break out a little bit.”
Despite holding Richmond to 50, which McKeown said is his team’s goal for every game, he also acknowledged that his squad must increase its own scoring and finish in a stronger fashion.
“We didn’t close the game out. We missed (seven) free throws, we turned the ball over (six times in the last five minutes). The way we ended that game left kind of a bittersweet taste in my mouth,” McKeown said.
Although the Colonials have been on the road for more than two weeks, McKeown said fatigue does not worry him heading into Saturday’s game.
“It hasn’t even been a question,” McKeown said. “We’ve just looked at it one game at a time. Our players have done a great job of following that philosophy. We only have one game this week, so it gave us some time to catch up and rest.”