After the GW women’s basketball team’s startling 63-60 loss to St. Bonaventure Saturday, it seemed unlikely that the Colonials would drop a second consecutive game to Saint Louis Wednesday night. Based on the team’s history with losing, GW was likely to come out swinging from the tip.
The Colonials’ performance on their first possession appeared to contradict that theory though, as the Colonials threw the ball out of bounds and the Billikens quickly went the other way for two points. But when senior Whitney Allen followed with a basket and stole the ball just after for another easy layup, GW’s shooting got hot – and the game was GW’s from then on.
It did not matter that the Colonials shot only 31 percent from the floor in the second half – the No. 17/16 (AP, ESPN/USA Today) Colonials had already put the game out of reach with a 52-26 halftime margin and led 82-58 at the final buzzer. Allen contributed 14 to that first half total, while senior Sarah-Jo Lawrence added 11 points.
“I think we worked really hard in practice on the pace (of the game),” head coach Joe McKeown said after the game. “We were in slow motion in the first half against St. Bonaventure. Tonight I thought we attacked and took the ball to the basket hard.”
Senior Kim Beck finished with 23 points, Lawrence had 19 and Allen hit a new career high with 17 points. But what might have been more important than simply the points the trio scored was the tone that they set after the head-scratching loss days earlier.
“We were trying to put St. Bonaventure behind us,” Allen said. “We just wanted to come out and play hard and be aggressive and get a big lead off from the jump.”
The loss at St. Bonaventure snapped what had been a six-game winning streak that had taken the Colonials (21-5, 8-2 Atlantic 10) to a top-15 ranking in both polls and inspired whispers of a No. 4 seed or higher in the NCAA tournament. Though McKeown explained that the defeat was a tough pill to swallow for GW and said it took almost two hours to get through the first eight minutes of film from St. Bonaventure, Beck reminded reporters that there is still some basketball to be played.
“We’re going take the lesson from that, but we’re not going to dwell on it,” she said. “It didn’t ruin our season; we’re still going, so just take the lesson and keep moving.”
To keep moving, GW will have to get through Saint Joseph’s Sunday when the Colonials travel to Philadelphia. The Hawks stole GW’s chance at an A-10 championship last season, beating the Colonials in the semifinals of the tournament and hurting their seeding for the NCAA tournament. Still, Beck said that GW is confident regardless of who it plays.
“No matter who’s on our schedule, we’re confident,” Beck said. “The game is what it is. Last year is in the back of our minds, but we’re gonna come to play just because they are next on the list.”