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Three alumni join Board of Trustees
By Hannah Marr, News Editor • June 21, 2024

Women finish A-10 season undefeated, get top seed in conference tournament

A decade – that’s how long it had been since the GW women’s basketball team went undefeated in Atlantic 10 conference play.

And then came Sunday afternoon. The ninth- ranked Colonials defeated Temple 56-53 at Smith Center to finish undefeated in the conference and win the A-10 regular season title. The victory also gives the Colonials (25-2, 14-0 A-10) the first seed in next weekend’s A-10 tournament. The game against Temple pitted two teams unbeaten in the A-10 against each other in front of an announced crowd of 2,002.

“Over the last couple years, the Temple rivalry has become a really good one,” GW coach Joe McKeown said. “(Both teams) have separated (themselves) from the rest of the league.”

The recent competition that has developed between the two teams was reinforced Sunday, as neither squad led by more than seven points. The Owls held the edge for the majority of the first half, only for the Colonials to come back and lead entering the half with a 26-22 edge.

The second period saw a role reversal. As GW began to pull ahead, taking a 31-24 lead with 17:24 left in the game, Temple (23-6, 13-1 A-10) fought back, tying the game with just over three minutes remaining. In the end, converting from the floor was the difference in the game, Temple coach Dawn Staley said. GW shot 45.5 percent, while the Owls drained 35.6 percent of its shots from the floor.

“You’ve got to take the good with the bad, so I was glad that we were able to come back and take better care of the basketball (in the second half),” Staley said. “I’m very proud of our players. If you look at the stats, we should have been the winners of this game. (We needed) to put the ball in the hole and we didn’t do that.”

Rebounding is the key stat Staley was referring to, an area where Temple dominated GW, particularly on the offensive board. The Owls grabbed 48 rebounds, 22 on the offensive boards, while the Colonials had 27 total rebounds, seven on its own board.

“We played small a lot today and I think that hurt us,” McKeown said. “It was frustrating because they would miss a free throw and then get the rebound. These were things that shouldn’t happen. I felt like we were going to the ball but we weren’t putting the body on them first.”

The Colonials had just one player with double-digit points, junior Sarah-Jo Lawrence with 19 points. Temple’s Fatima Maddox had 17 points and Kamesha Hairston added 13 points. Lawrence scored the Colonials’ first 11 points of the game, while no other member of her team put a point on the board until sophomore Jessica Adair scored with eight minutes remaining in the first half.

McKeown said he is sometimes reminded by assistant coach Tajama Ngongba of the 1996-1997 Colonials squad that was undefeated in the A-10 when talk of his current team’s accomplishments arise. “Taj,” as Ngongba is known, was the captain of the 1997 team, which reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. But McKeown said that this squad differs from the power squad of a decade ago because all of the players contribute equally.

Staley agreed, acknowledging that she knows how to recognize a team having a unique season.

“They know how to play with one another,” Staley said. “When you’re having a season like they’re having you’ve got to keep it going. We’ve had one of those magical season and I think that’s what they’re having.”

The A-10 tournament begins March 2 at Cintas Center in Cincinnati. GW begins play March 3.

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