Colonials Survive and Advance
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CHAPEL HILL, NC - The George Washington women's basketball team (23-8), seeded ninth in the Tempe Regional, overcame a 14-point second-half deficit and rallied to beat #8 Mississippi (19-11), 60-57, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Dean E. Smith Center on Sunday, March 20. The Colonials will play top-seeded North Carolina in second round of the tournament on Tuesday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m.
"We never quit. It has been that way all year," GW Coach Joe McKeown said. "We play hard and we are really a blue-collar team. We bring it every night and it's not always pretty, but we find ways to compete and ways to win."
Mississippi opened the second half with a 12-0 run to turn a 34-33 halftime lead into a 46-33 advantage with 14:41 to play in regulation, and the Lady Rebels took a 55-41 margin on a basket by Carletta Brown at 10:29. The Colonials held the Lady Rebels scoreless for the next 9:16 and reeled off 17 straight points to take a 58-55 lead with 1:40 to play. A basket by Ellen Buchanan snapped the Ole Miss scoring drought and brought the Lady Rebels within one, 58-57, at the 1:13 mark. Ole Miss had a chance to tie the game with less than 30 seconds remaining, but senior All-America candidate Anna Montañana came away with a steal and buried two free-throws with nine seconds on the clock to complete the comeback.
Montañana finished with 13 points and a career high eight steals in the contest. Her 13 markers moved her past fellow Spaniard Elisa Aguilar into 13th on GW's career scoring list with 1,328 points. Senior Jessica Simmonds led all scorers with 14 points. She also added six rebounds and sophomore Sarah Jo-Lawrence provided a spark of the bench with eight points and four boards. Freshman Kimberly Beck netted nine points and registered four assists to move into fourth on GW's single-season assists ledger with 163.
The comeback was GW's second-largest of the season. The Colonials overcame a 16-point deficit in their season opener versus Georgetown on Nov. 19. The Colonials have now advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in its 12 trips to the Big Dance.
Elizabeth Cansdale paced Ole Miss with 13 points and Armintie Price notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Brown also finished in double figures with 12 points for the Lady Rebels.
Neither team led by more than five points in a see-saw first half. The Lady Rebels took the biggest advantage of the stanza, 22-17, at the 6:15 mark on a field goal by Price. The Colonials reeled off the next seven points of the contest to take a 24-22 margin with 5:19 to go in the half. The Lady Rebels outscored GW, 12-9, the rest of the period, including a layup by Brown with two seconds left to take a 34-33 edge at the half.
The Colonials forced 21 turnovers in the contest, including 16 in the second half, and turned them into 17 points to help key the come-from-behind win.
The Tar Heels (28-3) advanced to the second round with a decisive 97-62 victory over #16 Coppin State on Sunday. The last time GW and North Carolina met came in the regional semifinals of the 1997 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. The Colonials notched one of the biggest wins in school history with a 55-46 triumph over the Tar Heels to advance to the Elite Eight.
Tuesday night's contest will be televised live on ESPN2.