George Washington's Kayla Stewart (center) puts up a shot against Winfield's Mackenzie Arthur (right) and Mara Rhodes during Thursday night's game.
WINFIELD - It's been a long five days for George Washington senior Rachel Ward and her teammates.The Patriots dropped their season opener Saturday and had to wait until Thursday night to try to get their first win of the season at Winfield and it wasn't easy.Ward scored six of her 19 points in overtime as GW's defense clamped down on the Generals in the four-minute extra period to pull out a 47-38 victory. A crowd of about 200 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference matchup."It was a really bad feeling that made us work harder,'' said Ward of having the long wait between games. "We could just sit back and think this was an easy win. We have to work for it. It wasn't the way we wanted to win, but a win's a win.''
Ward, a 5-foot-5 guard, hit both ends of a 1-plus-1 free-throw attempt with 2:37 left in OT to put GW (1-1) ahead to stay at 40-38. The Patriots went on to score all nine points in the extra period, with Ward sinking a pair of foul shots with 14.7 seconds left and then getting a breakaway layup off a steal from sophomore guard Alanna Mobayed with 2.7 seconds to go to set the final score. GW stymied Winfield (2-2) in OT, holding the Generals 0 for 5 from the field and forcing a turnover."Nothing was going our way, but we fought through it,'' said Ward, who finished with a team-high 19 points and added four rebounds, two assists and three steals. "We picked up our defense [in overtime]. We just stayed focused.''Sophomore guard Haylea Roberson knotted the game at 38-all with 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter on a long jump shot that the referee ruled a two-point basket.On the ensuring possession, GW junior post Kelli Jo Harrison rolled to the basket after setting a pick, but missed the layup attempt with several Winfield players closing in on her. The ball was batted around and finally went out of bounds to the Generals, but there was only one-tenth of a second left and no chance to put up a length-of-the-court shot.The Patriots took a 38-34 lead with 2:27 to go in regulation on senior guard Kayla Stewart's driving layup. Winfield, though, battled back with senior guard Haeley Moore's layup and Roberson's jumper. The Generals missed four straight free throws between those baskets. Winfield senior guard Morgan Eggleton gave Winfield its only lead of the game at 34-33 on a 3-pointer early in the fourth period.Harrison finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Mobayed chipped in five points, 11 boards, five assists and seven steals. Stewart had eight points and six rebounds and senior post Leslie Gilmore pitched in five points and nine boards.GW, which was third in the state coaches association preseason poll, is coming off back-to-back seasons of advancing to the state tournament semifinals, but is still trying to find its rhythm. The Patriots started the season late because coach Jamie LaMaster was part of the football team coaching staff that made a deep run into the postseason."We gained some experience of playing in a tight game,'' said LaMaster, whose team battled foul trouble the whole night. "I was really pleased with how we finished in the overtime. I thought we played a lot smarter. I think we're fortunate to get out of here with a win. 'The Patriots shot 27.4 percent (17 of 62) against Winfield, missed 11 foul shots and committed 26 turnovers. And for good measure, GW was 4 of 19 on 3s. It was the second straight game GW shot under 30 percent and had 20 miscues."We just have to work on the little things,'' Ward said.Winfield bounced back after a 34-point loss at Princeton.
"We gave a lot of heart and hustle,'' said Generals coach Tim Toler. "We got down by 10 in the third quarter and they could have folded the tents. We were just battling and battling and battled our way back in there. We felt like we had a little something we had to prove and I think we did that.''Roberson finished with 13 points and was the only player for Winfield to score in double figures. Senior Mara Rhoades contributed nine points, four rebounds and three assists and Eggleton had nine points nailing three 3s.Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.