Posted Monday, March 19, 11:52 p.m.
LOS ANGELES, March 19 — GW women’s basketball coach Joe McKeown said it was a game of heart. Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said it was a game of composure. But in the end, it was a game that sent one team to Dallas for the Sweet 16.
And that team was GW.
After a sluggish first half, the Colonials fought back to top the fourth-seeded aggies 59-47 at Galen Center here in Los Angeles. The Colonials will now face the winner of the North Carolina/Notre Dame game, which is tomorrow.
“I was really proud of my team. We played with tremendous heart tonight,” McKeown said.
“They didn’t hurry or panic (when they got behind),” Blair added.
After trailing for a good part of the first half, a 9-0 run put the Colonials (28-3) ahead with less than 10 minutes remaining in the period. GW led 23-21 at the half and trailed just once more in the second half.
“It’s been a long 10 years,” said McKeown, who set a program record with 28 wins. “We’ve been in a lot of great games in the second round. It feels good to have a team that just wants to keep going. They don’t care about who gets credit, they just want to keep going. It’s just really great for our program.”
Both McKeown and Blair, who are longtime friends, credited junior Kim Beck, who had 18 points, for her calm demeanor even as her team struggled to convert offensively.
“It’s not how many she scores. She leads the team at the right time. She made sure they were patient enough on offense to withstand our pressure,” Blair said.
McKeown also acknowledged the kind of team performance that has given GW the success it has seen this season.
“We’re a blue-collar team. We have to work, we have to play together. We don’t have a lot of All-Americans out there. We just have to play as a team,” McKeown said.
For McKeown, the victory was bittersweet. He said the two coaches talk so much that he “could coach (Blair’s) team and vice versa.”
“This is really hard,” McKeown said. “I hate playing him in the tournament and knowing that one of us is going to have to go home, after both of us have had such a great year.”
The Colonials’ bench also proved important against Texas A&M (25-7), as sophomore Jessica Adair, who had 15 points and 21 rebounds in the Colonials’ 76-67 win over Boise State in the first round, picked up four fouls and sat for most of the second half. Sophomore Jazmine Adair replaced her twin and scored eight points in 22 minutes, which McKeown called “huge.”
Whether the Colonials face the Tar Heels or the Fighting Irish, many GW players made it clear how they feel about their victory Monday night and what comes next.
“We’re not done yet,” Beck said.
“This is a dream come true,” junior Sarah-Jo Lawrence, who had 12 points, added.
And senior Kenan Cole seemed to echo the beliefs of every member of her squad, which high-fived the GW band and waved to fans after the win: “We’re just really excited,” she said.
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