When the GW women’s basketball team began the 2007-2008 season, the squad and many of its followers had high hopes of a Final Four run. Come this week, the Colonials might not even be nationally ranked.
It is still only the first week in December and there are still three months of basketball to be played before the NCAA Tournament, but the No. 16/14 (AP, ESPN/USA Today) Colonials struggled this past week. After enduring its second 25-point drubbing of the season to James Madison on Thursday, GW gave up a 24-point halftime lead to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, falling to the Lady Rebels 62-61 and losing two consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 2004.
“I think we fell in love with ourselves at halftime being up 40-16 and didn’t show up the second half and didn’t play any defense,” head coach Joe McKeown said of the Colonials’ loss to UNLV. “There’s no excuse for that game.”
GW turned it around the next afternoon and finished the Four Points by Sheraton Invitational with a 64-57 victory over Samford University. McKeown said he was happy with the way the team bounced back, but GW now sits with a 6-3 record – likely not what the Colonials had hoped for nine games into the season.
A tough schedule thus far and injuries to two starters, senior Whitney Allen and junior Antelia Parrish, may explain the mishaps, but McKeown said his team is not one that likes to make excuses.
“We play so many games, and we’ve got a lot of injuries. We’re not a program that’s built on excuses, so we just have to lick our wounds and move on,” he said.
Parrish, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, has been sidelined with a sprained left ankle for four games, and defensive stalwart Whitney Allen has missed the last five games with a broken left ring finger.
“They’re both terrific players,” McKeown said, adding that he hopes to have Parrish back for the Colonials’ next game, a Dec. 8 date at Villanova University, but might have to wait a few weeks until the Colonials play Loyola Marymount University or Texas A&M later in the month to get Allen back into the lineup.
“That’ll be a big shot in the arm for us,” he said of their return.
Their absence has forced the Colonials’ bench to play a bigger role. Sophomore point guard Stefani Munro has started four games this season after seeing only snippets of action last year. Junior Jamila Bates and senior Lora Mitchell have also spent an increased amount of time on the court, and McKeown said he hopes that more minutes for these players will improve their productivity later in the season.
“I think that really is going to help us for them to get experience in a game,” McKeown said. “When we get into conference play and March, they can help us and contribute at a high level.”