GW women’s basketball to face Gonzaga on Friday.
By James Irwin
They knew they were in. That part already had been taken care of, secured a week ago with a 75-62 win over Dayton in the Atlantic 10 championship game. What the players and coaches of the George Washington women’s basketball team didn’t know until Monday night were the details of the program’s first trip to the NCAA tournament since the 2007-08 season.
Now, they know that information, too.
The Colonials (29-3 overall), champions of both the A-10 regular season and conference tournament, will play in their first NCAA tournament in seven years Friday night as a No. 6 seed in the West Region, against the 11th-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs in Corvallis, Ore. GW had to wait eight days from the A-10 title game to selection day, and then another 45 minutes Monday night before it learned its draw, revealed as part of the bottom half of the final bracket announced.
No. 6 GW vs. No. 11 Gonzaga
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, Ore
“We had a few scenarios in place depending on when we would play, where we would play,” GW Coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “Now I have all the details so we can start to get ready for Gonzaga and make sure we’re as prepared as possible for them.”
Prognosticators, as late as Monday morning, pegged the Colonials as high as a No. 4 seed, which would have come with a first-round home game. Instead, GW heads to the West Coast. Should they win Friday the Colonials, who watched Monday’s selection show along with fans and supporters at the Charles E. Smith Center, would face the winner of No. 3 Oregon State and No. 14 South Dakota State. All three games will be at Oregon State’s Gill Coliseum. The survivor of that quartet advances to the region semifinal in Spokane, Wash.
“I feel like we have a good chance to go out there, and show everyone what we’re made of,” said junior forward Jonquel Jones, the Most Outstanding Player of the A-10 tournament. “We were excited to be playing in this tournament, regardless of where we were or where we would be placed.”
Powered by the nation’s best rebounding margin, and led by Ms. Jones, the A-10 Player and Defensive Player of the Year, GW finished the regular season 15-1 in conference play and 26-3 overall. The Colonials won each of their three conference tournament games by at least a dozen points, storming back from a 37-29 halftime deficit to defeat Dayton in the final. That win was the program-record 29th of the season for GW, which has won 27 of 28 games since Nov. 24.
“Responding to Dayton’s run in the first half [of the title game] was a big testament to what this team is made of and how we feel that no matter what situation we’re in we can get ourselves out of it and win games,” Ms. Jones said. “The team is playing with great cohesiveness. Everything we’ve done has gotten us ready for this NCAA tournament.”
Connecticut, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Maryland secured the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament. Fellow D.C. school American, winner of the Patriot League, joins GW in the 64-team field. The Colonials, placed in the same bracket as Maryland, played both the Terrapins and Eagles this season, defeating American, 63-52, at Bender Arena in November and losing to Maryland, 75-65, at the Smith Center a week later.