GREENSBORO, N.C., March 30 – Sitting in front of media after her sixth-seeded GW women’s basketball team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament by second-seeded Rutgers University Sunday afternoon, senior Kim Beck got choked up when trying to sum up her four years as a Colonial. It was a rare moment for the point guard, who is usually all about business after games.
But this time, there was no more business to discuss. With the conclusion of her fourth and final NCAA tournament, Beck had no game to look forward to. Instead, all she could really do was reminisce.
“We really are a close-knit family out there,” Beck said of her teammates. “It’s going to be hard leaving these guys. I think they’ll be alright. (Junior Jessica Adair) wants me to come back to every game to help her out. I don’t know if I can do that.”
Beck has been the consummate helper, the quintessential floor general who always looked for open teammates before taking a shot herself. That was particularly evident in the team’s 53-42 loss to the Scarlet Knights in the Sweet 16, as Beck attempted just four shots and converted one. She also had five assists, a relatively low output for her.
The Fairburn, Ga., native broke the school’s season assists record against the University of California in the second round of the tournament and is second all-time in career assists.
“Beck shattered records at a great program,” coach Joe McKeown said. “She is going to go down as one of the great players in the history of our program and our conference.”
Though Beck said she would not miss McKeown’s constant yelling in her direction, the truth is that the pair have always had what appeared to be a very special relationship. Seemingly after every game, McKeown would praise his point guard regardless her performance. If she did not put a lot of points on the board, he would say how much she does that is not measured on the stat sheet; if she did contribute statistically, he made sure to mention her ability to put the entire team on her back and carry it to victory.
Beck is one of four seniors leaving the Colonials, the first time in three years that more than one player departed at the end of the season due to graduation. Like Beck, classmates Sarah-Jo Lawrence, Whitney Allen and Lora Mitchell will also never again don the Buff and Blue.
“I’m going to take my relationships with my teammates,” Lawrence said when asked to sum up her time with GW. “When you play a game like (the Rutgers game), a real physical game and you have runs and you’re down, it’s those people on the court with you that are really special. It’s been a special time here, a special four years.”
Unlike Beck, who became a star virtually the second she stepped onto Smith Center’s court, Lawrence needed some time to grow into her game at GW. She averaged just 4.3 points per game her freshman year. In her second season she found her spot on the team, earning conference honors as the sixth man of the year.
Lawrence became a consistent starter as a junior and only improved as a senior, averaging double digits in scoring each season as a cornerstone of the offense. The Colonials may not have made it to the second weekend this year if not for her put back of a Beck air ball as the buzzer sounded against Cal.
Lawrence is also an Academic All-American with a 3.85 GPA as a double major.
What Allen has brought to the program is perhaps the hardest to quantify because she was best utilized as a defender. Though she found her scoring game more during her senior year and became less tentative to shoot the ball, she always prided herself on being a defensive stalwart.
McKeown, too, praised her defensive prowess, calling her his junkyard dog on multiple occasions because of her willingness to do just about anything on the court. Allen spent five years with the program, redshirting her freshman season. She received her undergraduate degree last year and is currently pursuing her Master’s.
Mitchell, compared to the other three, is rarely mentioned because her contributions were mostly off the court. Though she hardly saw the hardwood, she was one of the team’s emotional backbones, always the first off the bench when it was time to react to anything, be it a simple basket or a controversial call.
“You have to be around them every day since they were freshmen just to see the growth,” McKeown said of the four seniors. “I might retire after this,” he added, perhaps meaning that this group brought to him all he could ever ask for.
Adair, who will be largely responsible for ensuring next season’s squad meshes as well as this year’s did, perhaps summed up best what everyone associated with the program may be feeling about the departure of one of McKeown’s greatest senior classes, which won more than 100 games in its tenure and qualified for four NCAA tournaments and the Sweet 16 twice.
“I love these guys, playing with them these last three years has been great,” Adair said. “They know me well, I know them well. I’m going to miss them a lot.”