Friday, Dec. 21, 12:20 a.m.
With less than 10 minutes left in No. 22 GW women’s basketball team 66-65 overtime win over No. 10 Texas A&M, senior Sarah Jo Lawrence picked off an Aggie pass with one hand, drove three-quarters up the court, faked out an Aggie defender, then laid the ball in.
The guard could not help but smile as she ran back down the court. Who could blame her? After all, she had a lot to smile about: she was having the game of her life against one of the best teams in the country.
Lawrence had a career-high 29 points, including a game-tying three-pointer with about five seconds left, to fill the void left by junior center Jessica Adair, who sat out the game after suffering a concussion in Tuesday’s win over Loyola Marymount.
“That has got to be one of the best (games) I’ve ever played – I was in the zone the whole night,” Lawrence said. “With Jess out we had to do something to step it up.”
The win marked the completion of a turnaround for GW (9-3), which started the season off with embarrassing losses to Rutgers University, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and James Madison University. Despite Adair’s absence and senior Kim Beck shooting just 3-for-16 from the floor, GW hung with the Aggies from the opening tip-off.
In the closing seconds of the game, it appeared that GW had let a golden opportunity pass them by, as A&M (9-2) led by three and GW looked lost on offense. Somehow the ball ended up in the corner in Lawrence’s hands, and she took her time to convert with the clock ticking down.
“We work on that one everyday,” head coach Joe McKeown said jokingly after the game, adding that he drew up the play in his driveway with his daughter (“But there you have to chase the ball down the hill if you miss”).
But the play did not come without controversy. Even though Lawrence’s foot was clearly behind the three-point line when she shot and the referees signaled accordingly, Smith Center’s scoreboard only added two points to GW’s score, putting them down 60-59.
Aggie senior guard A’Quonesia Franklin did not attempt a game-winning shot in the last four seconds and seemed surprised when the buzzer sounded.
“Damn straight there was confusion,” A&M coach Gary Blair said. “My point guard’s job here is to know the situation and she thought we were up by one. But we’re supposed to overcome that. That had nothing to do with the game.”
After almost squandering a game they had led most of the way, Lawrence’s shot shifted the momentum squarely back to GW’s corner. The Colonials led the entire overtime period and junior Jazmine Adair hit the game-sealing free-throw to give GW a 66-62 lead with 15 seconds left.
Beck had six assists to make her the program’s all-time leader in the category, but as usual she was eager to spread the acclaim for the accomplishment.
“It’s just a testament to the players I’ve had, players like Sarah, Anna Montana, Jessica Simmonds, Jessica Adair, Jazmine-I mean I just pass the basketball, they have to make the shot. They have the hard part.”
Lawrence then added that Beck does little things on the court that do not show up in the box score, and the two turned to each other and smiled. It was clear they were optimistic about this team living up to the lofty expectations placed on it despite the Colonials’ early season struggles. A win like Thursday night’s, which McKeown described as “like a playground game,” will pay further dividends if the team has a close game during the NCAA tournament.
Blair agreed with McKeown’s assessment of the game, but preferred to describe it in a different way, one less simile and more matter-of-fact.
Blair said, “That was just a great college basketball game.”