One of the biggest questions facing George Washington at the start of the season was how its front court would perform without Noelia Gomez, the Atlantic 10 Conference player of the year last season.
Freshman forward Erica Lawrence has been providing part of the answer lately. Lawrence tied her career high with 18 points to lead the Colonials to an 83-73 victory over Temple in an Atlantic 10 Conference game before 1,227 yesterday at Smith Center.
"I've been so impressed with the poise she's kept on the floor," Colonials Coach Joe McKeown said of Lawrence. "She never gets rattled, keeps the same temperament the whole game. She gets excited about playing. It's kind of fun to be around her."
Elisa Aguilar scored 24 points to lead the Colonials, who extended their winning streak to 11 games. The Colonials (13-2, 4-0 Atlantic 10) have not lost since a 77-62 defeat against Southern Methodist on Nov. 27.
"How good are we? I don't know," McKeown said. "Did I expect to be 13-2? Part of me did because I kind of like this team."
Lawrence, who was selected the league's rookie of the week for her strong performance against Virginia Tech last weekend, has scored in double figures in the Colonials' past six games. She is one of three players to start every game for George Washington. "I've been working hard," she said. "It's more relaxed now, now that we're deep into our season."
The Colonials got off to a ragged start, turning over the ball on their first three possessions. Their sloppy play--they had 34 turnovers--allowed Temple (5-11, 0-5) to stay with them most of the first half.
"I've never seen us throw the ball away like that, ever," McKeown said.
The Colonials held a 23-22 lead seven minutes before halftime when Kristeena Alexander (19 points) converted a layup off a steal by Lawrence to spark a 13-2 run. At the end of the second half, the Colonials had pulled ahead 48-35.
They built that lead to 70-48 before Temple began its three-point barrage. The Colonials had given up just six three-point field goals in four conference games. The Colonials yielded five three-pointers during a four-minute span in the second half as the Owls cut the lead to 74-65 with 3 minutes 35 seconds remaining. Then the Colonials' defense kicked in, yielding two field goals the rest of the game.
VIRGINIA TECH 76, LA SALLE 57: Chrystal Starling scored a game-high 19 points, and the Hokies shot 61 percent from the field on their way to an Atlantic 10 win in Philadelphia. Virginia Tech (10-5, 3-1) started the game with a 9-0 lead, and led by 25 points over La Salle (6-9, 1-3).
LAFAYETTE 52, NAVY 50: Lafayette's Sherry Vestal stole an inbounds pass with 12 seconds left to spoil a second-half rally by the Midshipmen (2-11, 0-2) in a Patriot League game in Easton, Pa. Lafayette is 3-11, 1-0.
UNC WILMINGTON 79, GEORGE MASON 69: The visiting Seahawks secured their first win against George Mason since 1995 by outscoring the Patriots 16-0 during the last 3:35 in a CAA game at Patriot Center. George Mason (5-9, 1-2) attempted just one shot during the run, and committed four turnovers. Senior Chandra Watkins scored 15 points to lead UNC Wilmington (9-6, 2-2).