Defense, Beck Spark Colonials

Kimberly Beck
George Washington's Kimberly Beck celebrates with Ivy Abiona, left, after defeating Texas A&M in the second round on Monday. Beck scored a game-high 18 points. (Kevork Djansezian - AP)
By Steve Galluzzo
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, March 20, 2007

LOS ANGELES, March 19 -- It was not the kind of start George Washington women's basketball coach Joe McKeown had hoped for, but the end result suited him just fine: a spot in the round of 16.

"The first few minutes, I was afraid we might lose by 30," he said.

Instead, after spotting Texas A&M an 8-2 lead in the first six minutes, the Colonials used stifling defense to produce a 59-47 victory Monday night at the University of Southern California's Galen Center. GW advanced to the second week of the tournament for the first time since 1997.

Junior guard Kimberly Beck led the fifth-seeded Colonials (28-3) with 18 points. Junior guard Sarah-Joe Lawrence had 12, and sophomore center Jessica Adair added 10.

By winning for the 21st time in their last 22 games, the Colonials matched their 1997 school record for victories, and advanced to play the winner of Tuesday's match between top-seeded North Carolina and No. 9 Notre Dame on Sunday at Reunion Arena in Dallas.

"This was a very hard-fought game, but we're not done yet," Beck said. "Our defense did a good job of denying penetration and playing as a team."

Beck swished a pair of free throws to give GW its first lead, 17-16, with 3 minutes 4 seconds left in the first half. Then, after Aggies sophomore guard Takia Starks hit a three-pointer to tie it at 21, Whitney Allen's back-court steal and layup gave the Colonials a 23-21 halftime lead.

"I'm really proud of my team" said McKeown, who improved to 3-1 against longtime friend Gary Blair, the Texas A&M coach. "We knew we had our hands full, but we are a blue-collar team, and we hung in there early on when our game was off."

Starks made a three-pointer to pull fourth-seeded Texas A&M (25-7) even at 29-29 with 13:38 left, and McKeown immediately called a timeout to let his players regroup.

George Washington clung to a 33-32 lead when Beck made another three-pointer from the top of the arc to ignite a 9-3 run that increased the Colonials' lead to 42-35 with under eight minutes to play.

George Washington led by 12 points in the second half, and the Aggies never got closer than seven in the final five minutes.

"Our first goal was to get this far, but it feels great to keep going," Lawrence said. "We're excited. We can't wait for the next one."

Jazmine Adair finished with eight points, Kenan Cole had seven and Allen added four for George Washington, which outscored the Aggies 36-18 in the paint. Starks led Texas A&M with 16 points, and Danielle Grant added nine.

"You have to give GW credit -- they made it tough for us to do what we had to do" Blair said.

The Colonials' slow start was in direct contrast to Saturday's first-round game against 12th-seeded Boise State, in which George Washington scored the first 19 points en route to a 76-67 victory.

· GEORGIA 76, IOWA STATE 56: In Minneapolis, Sonia Chambers scored all 18 of her points in a perfect first-half performance, leading the third-seeded Lady Bulldogs in the Dallas Region.

Tasha Humphrey had 21 points and seven rebounds for Georgia (27-6), which shot 61 percent and made eight three-pointers in the first half to advance to the school's 17th region semifinal and fifth in a row.

Lyndsey Medders had 11 points and nine assists for sixth-seeded Iowa State (26-9).

· PURDUE 76, GEORGIA TECH 63: Katie Gearlds led the second-seeded Boilermakers with 26 points in a Dallas Region second-round game in Minneapolis.

Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton added 18 points and 10 rebounds for Purdue (30-5), which will play third-seeded Georgia.

Stephanie Higgs scored 27 points and Janie Mitchell had 16 for the Yellow Jackets (21-12), who trailed by at least 15 points for a stretch of nearly 29 minutes until a late basket by Higgs.

Purdue has advanced to the region semifinals four of the last five years.

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