The clock had yet to expire Wednesday night during the GW women’s basketball team’s win over the University of Kentucky, but the fans’ attention had already shifted.
“We want Rutgers!” rang throughout Smith Center during the game’s final minutes as the GW faithful anticipated the Colonials’ Sunday night opponent.
The matchup offers GW’s first chance to truly establish itself on the national scene, as a win over the No. 6 Scarlet Knights would provide the Colonials with the type of high-profile victory that goes a long way in the top-heavy world of women’s basketball.
The 8 p.m. showdown will be televised on ESPNU, but head coach Joe McKeown said he wants to make sure the local fans support the team in person instead of from their living rooms.
“When they talk about great places to play college basketball, they need to talk about us,” McKeown said after the 75-65 victory over the Wildcats.
On the court, the No. 14/12 Colonials (AP, ESPN/USA Today) will try to follow No. 5 Stanford’s lead. The Cardinal knocked off Rutgers last weekend, neutralizing center Kia Vaughn, holding her to just three shots. Coming off a career-high 29 points against 6-foot-6 Kentucky center Sarah Elliott, junior Jessica Adair said she hopes to continue her success in what should be another physical battle in the paint.
“Kia Vaughn’s not (6-foot-6),” Adair said of the comparison between Vaughn, who is 6-foot-4, and Elliott. “Vaughn’s a big body and I’ll basically do the same thing I did with (Elliott) and hopefully do better.”
A potential area of concern lies beyond the arc: the Colonials allowed Kentucky to shoot 6-for-12 from the three-point line in the first half Wednesday. The second half was a different story as the Wildcats connected on just one three-pointer. McKeown said he hopes it will be the second half defense that shows up against Rutgers.
“I think we left some shooters open and we looked confused, which is not us,” McKeown said of the first half. “Second half we were much better, so hopefully that will carry over into Sunday.”
If McKeown has his way, the fans’ enthusiasm will carry over as well.
“I think it’ll be a great game,” McKeown said. “And hopefully it’s a great atmosphere.”