NCAA tournament rookie makes the difference

Saturday, March 22, 2008 5:35 p.m.

STANFORD, Calif., March 22 — Some of the GW women’s basketball team’s players were participating in their fourth NCAA tournament Saturday here Saturday afternoon. But NCAA tournament rookie Antelia Parrish was just as comfortable on the floor as her more experienced teammates.

Parrish hit the sixth-seeded Colonials’ first basket of the game – a three-pointer – and followed it up with another exactly a minute later en route to a 66-56 win over 11th-seeded Auburn. Whatever jitters she may have had did not show.

The junior, who transferred to GW after spending two seasons at Prince George’s Community College, said that she was nervous heading into the game but was able to quickly put the feeling aside in order to do what she does best – shoot the ball. She finished the game with 15 points and four three-pointers.

“That’s what I do, I just shoot the ball,” Parrish said in GW’s locker room after the game. “My teammates count on me to take care of that.”

Parrish was one of the team’s biggest question marks entering the season, as few knew exactly what talent she would bring to the squad and even fewer what she would do when faced with Division I opponents. Her season has been somewhat of a roller coaster, coming up big in some games (a 24-point, 16-rebound performance against the University of Kentucky) and falling flat in others (three points at Massachusetts). She also did not play for almost a month in late November and early December after suffering an ankle injury.

When it was noted that her productivity has been inconsistent, she emphatically nodded her head and agreed that she has to reliably perform like she did against the Tigers.

It was one basket that Parrish made late in the second half that may have ultimately won the game for GW. With just less than six minutes remaining in the contest and the Colonials up by four, Parrish grabbed a rebound and punched the ball in. She got fouled on the shot and made the free throw. Those were her only points of the second half but the momentum was entirely in GW’s favor after that play.

Coach Joe McKeown praised Parrish’s play after the game, saying she has the ability to stretch a game out and change the way the game is played.

“I’m really proud of her,” McKeown said. “Hopefully (in the second round), she can drill the threes at the end. And I’m also really glad she’s back next year.”

Next season, Parrish will have an NCAA tournament win under her belt. But those who watched her against Auburn probably would not have realized that she did not already have the experience.

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