After a women’s basketball team practice Wednesday afternoon, seniors Sarah-Jo Lawrence and Kim Beck and junior Jessica Adair appeared calm and poised as they made their rounds speaking with the media. The floor of Smith Center was largely silent save their interviews, muffled side conversations and a persistent background buzzing emanating from the rafters.
It was a scene unlike that in which they had last been observed – the euphoric aftermath of Monday night’s improbable comeback victory over the University of California that propelled GW into its second consecutive Sweet 16. Lawrence’s buzzer-beating put-back inspired an impromptu group celebration near mid-court, the Colonials jumping and embracing as the officials ensured that the bucket counted.
But it was back to business in Foggy Bottom, the merriment giving way to focus and last weekend’s memories shifting into preparation for this weekend’s tilt with Rutgers University in Greensboro, N.C.
“It was very exciting,” Lawrence said of Monday’s finish. “I think it’s kind of died down and we’re now focused on the next game we have.”
Head coach Joe McKeown said one of the biggest things he and his team took from the dramatic win was the composure his team showed with its collective back to the wall. GW was down eight points at the half and trailed Cal for the majority of the contest.
“I think it just gives you confidence, knowing you can come from behind,” he said. “Hopefully that will carry over. Once you hit the floor on Sunday, all that goes out the window and you play the next team.”
Adair said her team’s resiliency did not surprise her, but that she hopes it is not needed as heavily in the next round.
“I’ve always felt like if we’re ever down, we’re a battling team,” Adair said. “Hopefully we don’t get down (against Rutgers) and don’t have to battle back. But if we do, I have confidence we’ll be able to step up to the plate.”
Sunday’s game in Greensboro, in the same gym in which the men’s team lost to Duke University in 2006, will be the Colonials’ fourth Sweet 16 appearance in program history and will mark the first time GW has ever made it to the NCAA tournament’s second weekend in back-to-back seasons. It is an accomplishment that will join a host of others accumulated by this year’s senior class, a group Lawrence said will look to extend its collegiate careers as they take the court this weekend.
“We have to play every possession, every game, every minute like it’s our last,” she said. “We’re really giving it our all, and we’re going to give it our best shot because this is our last chance with this team.
Beck, who with Lawrence and forwards Whitney Allen and Lora Mitchell round out the graduating class, acknowledged the accomplishment of the present but continued the trend of emphasizing the future.
“It’s a great feeling – it’s where you want to be,” Beck said. “We’re happy to be here, but we’re not satisfied. We want to keep going.”