VILLANOVA, Pa., Dec. 8 – The GW women’s basketball team welcomed forward Whitney Allen back to its lineup Saturday afternoon, after she had missed five straight games with a broken left ring finger. Allen’s five points, nine rebounds and three steals helped the Colonials topple Villanova University 67-52.
“She brings such a toughness defensively and such a mental toughness to the table,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said of Allen. “And experience. Whitney Allen is a fifth-year senior. You can’t replace that. She just knows what to do and when to do it.”
Allen’s play was a boost to a GW (7-3) squad that was visibly excited to hear its previously injured teammate’s name called in the starting lineup. The No. 21 Colonials (ESPN/USA Today) had hit a rough patch last weekend without the services of Allen and injured junior Antelia Parrish in New Orleans, when GW saw a 24-point lead slip through its fingers at the hands of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
But while Allen might have provided the energy boost that got GW going against the Wildcats, it was a team effort that secured the win for the Colonials. All but one player who saw the hardwood scored at least two points, and GW had 12 steals from Villanova while limiting itself to the same number of turnovers.
“(We had) great team defense, I thought,” McKeown said. “Defensively, we did everything we were supposed to do. They followed the game plan to a ‘T.'”
After the Colonials took a 34-19 lead into the break, the Wildcats (7-2) got hot from beyond the three-point line and cut GW’s margin to three points, four minutes into the second half. GW responded with 16 consecutive points to regain control of the game and end any chance of a another second-half collapse – something senior Sarah-Jo Lawrence said the team discussed at halftime.
“We talked about playing 40 minutes,” she said. “We can’t have the same letdown as we did (against UNLV). Even if they do get a couple threes on us, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the game, and we still have to play hard . We’re not going to let those letdowns like UNLV happen again.”
GW has a 10-day hiatus before it hosts Loyola Marymount University on Dec. 18, and Allen said the team is ready to prepare for its four-game stretch over winter break.
“We’re going to really clamp down and focus,” she said. “Work on our weaknesses, continue on our strengths, and go out there and get some home wins.”