No. 9 George Washington pulls away late, wins 15th straight

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Faced with its first close game in more than a month, George Washington clamped down defensively.

Sarah-Jo Lawrence scored 16 points, Jessica Adair added 14 points and 14 rebounds and George Washington (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today; No. 8 AP) pulled away late to win its 15th consecutive game, 64-59 over Charlotte on Thursday night.

Jazmine Adair also had 14 points for the Colonials, who trailed by two with just under 7 minutes left. With starter and third-leading scorer Kenan Cole out with a twisted left ankle, George Washington was facing its first loss since December at Tennessee.

"We lost our best outside and one of our leading scorers early in the game and I thought people stepped up," George Washington coach Joe McKeown said.

Lisa Steele then scored five straight points, part of a game-ending 13-6 run, as the Colonials (22-2, 11-0 Atlantic 10) overcame 22 turnovers to match the second-longest winning streak in school history.

Sabrina Gregory scored 17 points, and Danielle Burgin and Wendy Stywalt added 12 each for the 49ers (17-9, 8-3), who had only one field goal in the final 6 minutes as their school-record 22-game home winning streak was snapped.

"Whenever you beat somebody in February that hasn't lost a home game all year, that's a good sign," McKeown said.

McKeown was concerned when Charlotte went on a 9-2 run to take a 53-51 lead on Traci Ray's 3-pointer. But the 49ers couldn't consistently score against George Washington, 16th in the nation in scoring defense.

Lawrence's jumper with a minute left made it 60-54 and Jessica Adair's two free throws with nine seconds left clinched it.

"I think I had a little subconscious issue with fouling. The last few games I've been in foul trouble," said Adair. "This game I was trying to work on not fouling as much, so it had me a little out of position and not playing my game. But I got into it toward the end."

Charlotte, which shot 33 percent, was outrebounded 49-34 as it suffered its first home loss since Dec. 2005 against Old Dominion.

"We lost to a great team today, there's no question about that," 49ers coach Amanda Butler said. "You can look at every single statistic but none of them matter except for rebounding. That was the crucial breakdown for us. We played a lot of zone and that's one of the risks you take."

The Colonials were effective offensively in the first half -- when they didn't turn it over. Jazmine Adair was tough to stop down low, hitting all four shots and both of her free throws, but the Colonials' miscues allowed Charlotte to be within 35-32 at halftime, a rare position for George Washington. The Colonials had won their first 10 league games by an average of 19 points.

"We felt confident the whole game -- it was close the whole time," Gregory said. "But we gave up some key rebounds and that really killed us."

George Washington lost Cole eight minutes into the game when she injured her left ankle going up for a rebound. Cole, averaging 11.9 points, had her leg wrapped after the game.

"I hope she's OK. She turned her ankle pretty good," McKeown said. "She's a senior and in February and March if they can walk with one leg they'll put a uniform on."