Senior Whitney Allen has played an integral role in GW’s success during her five years in the women’s basketball program. Head coach Joe McKeown has referred to her as his “junkyard dog” for her willingness to engage in the proverbial dirty work on the defensive end, the kind of contributions that do not always show up in the box score.
But it was Allen’s scoring acumen that helped propel the Colonials to a convincing 82-58 win over Saint Louis Wednesday night. Allen scored 14 of her career-high 17 points in a first-half assault that gave GW a 26-point advantage at the break.
“Usually in the game I get a lot of early shots, and today I just got more than usual,” Allen said after the game. “I took advantage and hit a lot of shots in the first half.”
Allen’s first basket of the game came in typical fashion, as it was her defense that begat the opportunity. Following a Colonials (21-5, 9-2 A-10) basket, Allen defended the Billikens’ ball-handler at mid-court, knocking the ball loose and chasing it down to score on a runaway layup. Ten minutes later, she did it again.
“It’s always good to get a few easy layups,” she said. “Those are points you want in transition. Defense always can become offense.”
McKeown said that the performance may have been the result of a talk between the two earlier in the week.
“We talked about leadership and a sense of urgency,” McKeown said. “I thought she was a lot more relaxed. It just looked like she was having fun.”
After connecting on her lone second-half basket – a long three-pointer from the corner – Allen opened her mouth and shook her head rapidly, the type of unbridled expression to which McKeown would seem to be referring. Yet it was not just Allen’s enjoyment of the game that her coach was praising after the win.
“She’s a special person,” McKeown said of Allen, who is currently pursuing her master’s degree. “When she’s on a team with (great players), it’s easy to get lost. I just wanted her to know that as a coach, I appreciate all the things she’s done for our program both on and off the court. And I wanted her to know that before the season ended.”
When this season does conclude, it will mark the end of Allen’s distinguished GW career. While she is not counting down the games, she said that she is aware that her time in the program is almost up.
“I guess you could say there’s a little sense of urgency,” she said. “Got to finish strong.”