Saturday, March 22, 2008 5:35 p.m.
STANFORD, Calif., March 22 — All season, players on the GW women’s basketball team have said that the squad was at its best when jumping out to early leads. Against 11th-seeded Auburn University in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the sixth-seeded Colonials were forced to be the comeback kids.
Sixth-seeded GW trailed by as much as seven in the second half Saturday, but clawed and crawled its way back, eventually overcoming the Tigers 66-56.
The Colonials (26-6) trailed at the half for only the fourth time this season and allowed the Tigers (20-12) to grab the momentum right out of the break. After finally getting some shots to fall midway through the second period, it appeared that the physical match-up would prove to be a nail-biter down to the wire. GW asserted its presence in the paint late in the half, making layups and drawing fouls on a consistent basis to take control of the scoreboard.
With the victory, the Colonials advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive year. GW next plays Monday afternoon against the winner of Saturday afternoon’s match-up between the University of California and the University of San Diego. The time has not yet been announced.
“I felt like we needed to settle down and in the second half we did a much better job,” head coach Joe McKeown said after the game. “I thought the last six or seven minutes we really played well, kept our composure, and really started to hurt them on the offensive glass.”
Junior Jessica Adair led the Colonials with 17 points and 13 rebounds while classmate Antelia Parrish put up 15 points, including four three-pointers. Seniors Whitney Allen and Sarah-Jo Lawrence had 11 points each, but it was a Parrish basket that came after four consecutive offensive rebounds that Auburn head coach Nell Fortner said was the nail in the coffin for the Tigers.
The Colonials did not dominate on the boards for most of the game. Auburn held a 17-12 rebounding advantage in the first half that spurred 10 second-chance points and made it difficult for the Colonials to put together any sort of run.
GW also struggled to move the ball in the first period and early part of the second. The Colonials committed 10 turnovers in the first half that included an energy-killing errant pass on a fastbreak and a recurring difficulty getting the ball down the floor after a rebound.
“It was very frustrating, but we just tried to keep our composure,” Parrish said. “We were excited in the beginning and so we were just kinda rushing a lot, so we just needed to settle down and that was what we did in the second half.”