CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In spite of its slow start, George Washington still has everything on the table that it had hoped to accomplish when the season started.
The host Patriots took a step in that direction Tuesday night as senior Rachel Ward scored a game-high 21 points, including 11 in the second half, in a 65-61 come-from-behind victory over Parkersburg. A crowd of about 400 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference East Division clash of unbeatens.
GW, the three-time defending East Division titlist, went to 4-0 and the only other unbeaten team left in the division is Princeton (3-0). The Patriots host the Tigers on Feb. 16.
The Big Reds suffered their first loss in the division and now stand at 3-1.
"I think it's a situation where GW is in control of its own destiny,'' said Patriots coach Jamie LaMaster, whose team has won five straight after three losses in four games. "It's still wide open for us to reach one of our many goals. That's the first one coming up. We've put ourselves in position.''
Ward made that possible with an outstanding performance on Senior Night. She made 6 of 7 free-throw attempts in the final 47.2 seconds to seal the victory. None were bigger than when Ward sank a pair to set the final score with 5.3 seconds after Parkersburg senior guard Megan Morrison drilled a 3-pointer to slice the deficit to two points.
Ward also helped key a third-quarter rally with five points as GW outscored the Big Reds 25-13 to take a 51-46 advantage into the final period. She set the tone by knocking down a 3 nine seconds into the second half. The Patriots trailed 33-26 at halftime and that was made possible after Ward netted five straight points to close the opening half.
"We just knew we weren't playing to our ability and we had to check our attitudes,'' said Ward, who made 6 of 9 shots from the floor and 3 of 5 from long range.
"We weren't really working on the things we needed to work on. We just all came together. It helped me a lot with it being Senior Night. We just weren't playing another game. It was for us [seniors] and the win just felt incredible.''