CINCINNATI, March 4 – The last time the GW women’s basketball team did not make it to the final of the Atlantic 10 tournament, in 2004, the Colonials lost to Saint Joseph’s in the semifinal round. History repeated itself Sunday afternoon, when the No. 5-seed Hawks defeated top-seeded GW 57-55 here in Ohio.
It was the No. 8/9 Colonials’ (AP, ESPN/USA Today) first loss in 19 games, since Dec. 7, and the first defeat this season at the hands of an A-10 foe.
“We didn’t play to win today, we played not to lose” junior Kim Beck said.
After defeating Dayton 61-45 Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals, GW (26-3, 15-1) seemed ready for Saint Joe’s, which had beaten No.-4 seed Charlotte in the previous round. The first half played out in similar fashion to when the Colonials and Hawks played a little more than a week ago, when the Colonials held a 38-36 advantage in an eventual 87-60 victory, as the first period closed with the Colonials holding a 12-point lead.
GW head coach Joe McKeown said he puts the loss more on himself rather than on his players, citing poor coaching down the stretch as a reason his squad fell at the end.
“I did as poor a job as I could do in the last three or four minutes of that one,” McKeown said. “I thought we played well at times today; I just feel like I did a terrible job coaching the last three minutes. I told my team that. I’ve coached hundreds of games, you’d think a guy with gray hair and over 400 wins ought to know how to handle that.”
The second half was where the difference came this time. Saint Joe’s held GW scoreless for the first six minutes of the period while missing its first 10 shots.
With five minutes remaining, the Colonials still held an 11-point lead but McKeown said that this was where his team really began to lose control.
Saint Joe’s chipped away at GW’s advantage, scoring seven points in an almost-two-minute period where the Colonials were without a basket. Sophomore Jessica Adair, who scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, fouled out with 34 seconds remaining and the ensuing free throw conversions put the Hawks (19-12, 10-6) ahead for the first time. With the exception of a three-pointer by Beck, who finished the game with 15 points, that kept the Colonials within one with nine seconds left, Saint Joe’s had control of the game until the clock hit zero.
“We had beaten them by 27 a week ago and had dominated that game. They started out against Charlotte down and coming back like they did, it gave them the momentum today,” McKeown said. “Even though at halftime we were up 12, they had a little push left in them. The confidence they had after Charlotte, that carried over.”
“As soon as we got into contention, our kids started to believe ‘hey, we can do this.’ The fuel started to kick in,” said Saint Joe’s head coach Cindy Griffin. “I think that we just fought. We may not out-talent teams but we take pride in how hard we work.”
“We knew we couldn’t give up no matter what. We kept fighting. We gave it our all and came out on top,” Saint Joe’s senior Ayahna Cornish said.
McKeown said that his team still has much to be proud of.
“We’re 26-3; we hadn’t lost since Dec. 7. I’m not going to be that upset with my team. A lot of great things have happened this year. I’m going to focus on that.”
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