Rhode Island Coach Belinda Pearman spent most of the second half of the Rams' 90-38 loss to George Washington seated on the bench, shaking her head softly with her chin resting on her palm. With her team trailing by 35 at halftime, Pearman had time to reflect on how good the Colonials can look.
"At halftime, I told my players, 'Watch what they're doing, learn from them,' " said Pearman, a former Maryland player and assistant coach. "Everyone keeps looking for their weaknesses for a reason. They're not finding them easily. [The Colonials] are a balanced, great inside-outside team, they can put the ball on the floor, shoot from outside. That's why they can be so hard to defend."
Senior guard Cathy Joens led the way with 28 points as GW (14-5, 8-0) won its 10th straight, taking apart visiting Rhode Island, which has five transfers and freshmen in a nine-player rotation.
The Rams entered as the Atlantic 10's best defense statistically, yielding 58.5 points per game. Rhode Island (11-9, 3-6) had not given up more than 73 points all season; GW led 74-31 with just under nine minutes left.
But it was the Colonials' defense, not its offense, that was most effective, turning the Rams' 24 turnovers into 28 points.
"We're at our best when we're in transition," Joens said. "It opens everything up."
Rhode Island fell behind quickly, trailing 12-3 within three minutes and 31-11 with seven minutes left in the first half. George Washington took its first 30-point lead with four minutes remaining on a three-pointer by Joens, and led 50-15 at halftime, with Joens outscoring the Rams by two. Joens, who has averaged 23.3 points over the past six games, made 11 of 19 shots, including 5 of 8 three-pointers.
Power forward Valerie Williams continued to provide a lift as a reserve, making all six of her shots for 13 points, and offering the Colonials another post option to center Ugo Oha (17 points).
Marsheik Witherspoon has started the past six games at point guard and keyed the Colonials' defense yesterday, making three steals and helping force Rams point guard Denise King into eight turnovers. Erica Lawrence, the senior 1,000-point scorer who has struggled all season, added 13 points, capitalizing on her four steals.
* ARMY 71, AMERICAN 56: Chanel Hunt scored 19 points and Maria Werries added 13 for AU (12-8, 5-2 Patriot League) in West Point, N.Y. Army (10-11, 2-5) got 19 from Amy Saal.
* NAVY 70, LAFAYETTE 52: Adrienne Roseti scored 16 points to lead Navy (13-7, 3-4 Patriot League) in Easton, Pa. Colleen Fitzpatrick scored 16 for Lafayette (2-18, 1-5).
* HOFSTRA 69, GEORGE MASON 56: Jen Derevjanik and Shelbylynn McBride each scored 11 points for the Patriots (8-8, 5-4 CAA) in Hempstead, N.Y.