In a game like Saturday’s decisive 76-54 win over Charlotte, in which five GW women’s basketball players scored in double-digits and a sixth finished with nine, it would seem hard for individuals to stand out. GW displayed the balance that has made them so difficult for many teams to handle, causing match-up problems for the 49ers on offense while wreaking havoc on the defensive end in a 23-turnover effort.
Yet a pair of senior guards shone through, as seniors Kim Beck and Sarah-Jo Lawrence each posted double-doubles while displaying the leadership and versatile skills that have earned them accolades and admiration during their GW careers.
“It’s very, very hard,” Charlotte head coach Karen Aston said of containing the duo. “We tried to go zone, we tried to trap them a little bit and they handled just about everything we did.”
Beck finished with a team-high 19 points, including a 4-of-6 mark from beyond the arc. She also collected 11 assists – more than the 49ers had as a team – while turning the ball over just twice.
“She has a great sense of the moment,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said of his star point guard, whom he compared to Magic Johnson and Sue Bird. “I can’t say enough good things about her. I wouldn’t trade her for any point guard in college basketball.”
McKeown was not the only one praising Beck after the game, as Aston seemed to come away impressed by her play as well.
“I think she influences (the game) in a way you probably can’t understand unless you are a coach. She controls everything,” Aston said. “She’s a complete point guard. There’s no question.”
Her complete game continued on the other side of the floor, where McKeown said Beck is a “phenomenal defender.” She led the Colonials with four steals and added a pair of blocks. With GW already ahead by 28, Charlotte’s Shannon McCallum looked to be closing in on an easy breakaway layup when Beck caught up and swatted away the shot attempt.
When asked about the play after the game, Beck stifled laughter before deflecting credit. She explained that McCallum slowed down, allowing her to get in position to make the play.
“She does that a lot, believe it or not,” said McKeown, smiling, about Beck’s block.
“Not on me,” replied Lawrence as her former roommate shot her a playful look.
For her part, Lawrence was equally tenacious, displaying a high level of energy while registering 13 points and leading the Colonials with 10 rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass. Her effort helped GW outperform their opponents in a facet of the game that has given the team some trouble this season.
“Consistently, rebounds have been our nemesis,” Lawrence said. “We’ve been emphasizing that in practice – ‘go hard to the boards every time’ – and what you do in practice carries over to the game.”
At no point was Lawrence’s mentality more evident than a 20-second stretch in the game’s second half.
As McCallum went for a jump shot, Lawrence blocked her from behind before grabbing the loose ball and sending it up-court. After Lisa Steele missed a three-pointer, Lawrence tipped the ball to teammate Jamila Bates. Lawrence grabbed the rebound herself after a second Steele miss, scoring on the put back and drawing a foul to boot. She connected on the ensuing free throw to put GW ahead by 31, its largest lead of the contest.
The Colonials cruised the rest of the way to a victory Beck said was a statement for the team. Aston had a statement of her own concerning the opposing twosome:
“They were very good.”