Author Archives: Raynell Cooper

Colonials Fall in Conference Semis to Top-Seeded Dayton

Raynell Cooper
Staff Contributor

The George Washington Colonials women’s basketball team were unable to slow down the high-powered Dayton Flyers offense, falling in the Atlantic 10 conference championship semifinals on Saturday in Richmond, Va., 89-68.

Dayton guard and A-10 Player of the Year Andrea Hoover was the game’s leading scorer, with 22 points on 8-16 shooting. GW was led by Danni Jackson’s 19 points. Starting forwards Jonquel Jones and Caira Washington combined for nine points, being held in check by Ally Malott, Cassie Sant, and others inside.

Both teams played Friday, with GW playing later in the day and playing a longer game. Dayton narrowly escaped defeat Friday, winning against VCU in the final seconds.

The Colonials shot just 18.2 percent in the first half, trailing by 14 going into the intermission. The Flyers led by as much as 26 in the second half, despite an early second-half run that got the Colonials within nine.

GW made it to the free throw line 28 times, making 24 of their shots, including a 10-10 performance by guard Hannah Schaible. The Colonials were out-rebounded by the Flyers 52-44.

Dayton will play in the Atlantic 10 Championship Game Sunday against Fordham, who took down St. Bonaventure in the other semifinal.

GW is almost assured to continue playing, despite the conference season drawing to a close. While the NCAA tournament is probably not in the cards for the Colonials, the buff and blue will likely see themselves in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, which will be announced on March 17 and will begin play March 19-21. Games are played at campus sites, and GW has an opportunity to host a game.

It is hard to tell what adjustments need to be made based off the Dayton game because they will not see Dayton-level talent in the WNIT. There are few rosters in college basketball that carry as many players over 6’3” as Dayton does, especially amongst the teams they will be facing. GW had serious trouble getting the ball inside on Saturday, but they have had success against many other teams doing that, including Saint Joseph’s on Friday.

The Colonials have a talented squad, and they have a real shot at making a deep run in the 64-team WNIT field. Play begins March 19-21 and can be heard on WRGW District Radio.

Colonials Win Overtime Thriller in Conference Quarterfinals (AUDIO)

​RICHMOND, Va. — Despite being down at the half and giving up 54 percent shooting after halftime, the George Washington Colonials pulled off an 82-79 overtime win against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Championship at the Richmond Coliseum on Friday.

Sophomore forward Jonquel Jones finished with a career-high 30 points to go along with 16 rebounds in 44 minutes of action. Grad students Megan Nipe and Danni Jackson each finished with 17 points, with Jackson adding seven assists.

 Jonquel Jones’ third-chance putback in overtime. WRGW’s Raynell Cooper and Zach Simon broadcasting. 

The game was a rubber match for these two teams, who won at each other’s home courts during the regular season. The gravity of this game was not lost on the players. Danni Jackson said she felt the emotions and the nerves of the game, but argued that “if you don’t have nerves at this stage, something’s not right. You’re not ready.” Associate Head Coach Megan Duffy said the Colonials worked hard in practice to prepare, both mentally and physically, for the tournament.

 Megan Nipe’s three-pointer in overtime

After back and forth scoring, featuring a Jonquel Jones putback and a Megan Nipe three, freshman forward Caira Washington hit a jumper that gave the Colonials a 76-71 lead with 1:20 left in overtime. After a missed jumper, the Hawks took to fouling. They were able to convert on most of their offensive possessions and take advantage of four missed GW free throws in the last minute, to cut the deficit to three with possession with 9.8 seconds left. However, two three-point shot attempts by Erin Shields were unable to fall, giving GW a berth in the semifinals and a matchup with Dayton on Saturday.

Late turnovers allowed Saint Joseph’s to take a lead late in regulation, but the Colonials were able to tie it back up with free throws. Saint Joe’s had two chances to re-take the lead, the latter of them being a half-court heave by Erin Shields at the buzzer, but the second half ended with a 63-63 tie.

Saint Joseph’s led for most of the second half after coming out of the intermission up 33-30, and led by as much as five, but the Colonials first took the lead with a Danni Jackson layup at the 8:34 mark.

Coach Jonathan Tsipis remarked after the game that this was a game of “two teams that did not want to get off the floor.” The game featured 10 ties and nine lead changes, but the Hawks never led in overtime, as the Colonials shot 5-for-7 from the field.

GW had a determined mindset late in the game. Tsipis noted that they played hard because they “knew [they] still had gas in the tank.” The Colonials held Saint Joe’s to zero fast-break points in the second half and overtime, after the Hawks were able to get six in the first frame.

Jones scored GW’s first six points of overtime, as part of her fourth straight double-double and her seventh game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Colonials pulled down 44 rebounds to the Hawks’ 34.

 Our exclusive post-game interview with Associate Head Coach Megan Duffy 

The Colonials will make their 27th appearance in the tournament semifinals, but just their first since 2008. The game against Dayton will be the third matchup between these teams, with the last game coming a week ago at GW, a Colonials win. That game tips at 11 a.m. and can be heard on WRGW District Radio.

2014 GW Women’s Basketball Postseason Preview

Raynell Cooper
Staff Contributor

Twenty-three months ago, a highly-touted assistant coach from Notre Dame arrived in Foggy Bottom, aiming to turn around a once-great program that was coming off a season in which the team won just four conference games.

This week, Head Coach Jonathan Tsipis leads a George Washington squad with just five conference losses into the Atlantic 10 Championship in Richmond. The Colonials, who finished tied for second in the conference, have the fourth seed in the tournament, earning them a bye in Thursday’s first round. Their first game, Friday at 2:30 p.m. against fifth-seed Saint Joseph’s, can be heard on WRGW.

This has been a strong season for the Colonials. They started hot, notching a home win against #10 California behind one of grad student Megan Nipe’s two 31-point performances. The team then split the season series with Saint Joseph’s and Dayton, the teams in the conference with the two highest RPI ratings.

The team’s strengths come inside, with sophomore Clemson transfer Jonquel Jones and Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year Caira Washington, each of whom had 10 double-doubles this season. Jones, who joined the team in late-December, is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 14.5 points per game to go along with nearly 11 rebounds a game.

But not all the offense has come from the post. The talent inside has done a good job of freeing up space outside for shooters, like Nipe, to nail threes. They have also been key in opening up lanes to the basket for guards like grad student Danni Jackson and junior Chakecia Miller. The shooting, however, has been cold at times, which highlights the importance of the players inside even more.

The defense has also been a major part of GW’s success. The scoring defense stats do not blow you away because the team tends to play more of a fast-paced, high-scoring game (which makes them fun to watch or listen to), but they have done a good job, especially in late game situations, of getting stops when they need to.

Atlantic 10 Tournament: GW comes into the tournament with the fourth seed, the team’s highest since 2008. They will play Saint Joseph’s in the second round of the tournament, a team GW split the season series with this season.  Saint Joseph’s’ offense is built around two players: Erin Shields and Natasha Cloud. Shields is the A-10 leader in made threes, while Cloud is the team leader in rebounds. But this is a very deep Hawks team (neither of those two players finished in double figures in Thursday’s first round win against George Mason) with many weapons, both inside and out. Sarah Fairbanks and Ilze Gotfrida are going to have to muscle their way inside if the Hawks want to get the win.

GW beat the Hawks earlier this season in Philadelphia, behind a Jonquel Jones double-double. If this team is firing on all cylinders—like they were Saturday against the Dayton Flyers—then the Colonials can nab a win. But they will have to look to stay out of foul trouble and slow down Erin Shields.

A win against Saint Joe’s would pit GW against Dayton, the team that bounced the Colonials from the tournament last season. GW lost big in Dayton earlier this year, but won on Senior Day at the Smith Center. The Flyers are led by Andrea Hoover, conference player of the year, and get major contributions from Ally Mallott and Cassie Sant. Dayton is a very talented team with the power to hurt you from outside, but GW is a team that, on any given day, can beat anyone in the conference.

If the Colonials can make it to the finals, they have yet another tough test. The likely foes would be Saint Bonaventure or Fordham, two teams the Colonials have lost to on the road. GW had a hard time getting the Bonnies to play at GW’s faster pace, and Fordham’s Abigail Corning had a 20 point performance when the Colonials made the trip to the Bronx.

There are no cupcakes in the conference tournament draw. But this team has proven that they can beat nearly anyone in the conference when they are at their best, so it would hardly be a shock if the Colonials are the ones cutting down the Richmond Coliseum nets on Sunday.

Beyond the Conference Tournament: ESPN’s women’s basketball bracketologist Charlie Creme, does not have GW in his field of 64. The only two Atlantic 10 teams in the field, Dayton and Saint Joseph’s, will likely face GW this weekend, which is a good sign for the Colonials. However, with an RPI of 82 as of Thursday evening, it will be a tough sell, even with those wins, for an at-large bid in the tournament.

If GW can pull off a conference tournament win, they we will be headed to the Big Dance with an automatic bid. This scenario is not out of the question by any means. If they make it, the Colonials will have a tough first-round battle, almost certainly playing as a double-digit seed.

What is more likely is a place for GW in the Women’s NIT. The conference sent five teams to the tournament, with games being played at school hosts. This would be a great way for the younger players to get some more postseason experience and to help bring this program back into national prominence.

No matter how it turns out, Coach Tsipis has to be proud to have been able to turn the team he inherited into a 20-win squad. This is not only a good team, but an exciting team, so these postseason matchups are sure to entertain.

GW Women’s Hoops Season Ends with Quarterfinal Loss to #11 Dayton

Raynell Cooper
Women’s Basketball Writer

PHILADELPHIA - Coach Jonathan Tsipis’ debut season at the helm of the Colonials saw many high notes, and though the final game, a 74-49 loss to a nationally-ranked Dayton Flyers team, was not one of them, this team was able to get their most wins since 2009, give outgoing graduate students Sara Mostafa and Tara Booker their first postseason win, and set themselves up for a busy spring.

Booker pulled down eight boards and led the way for GW with 12 points. Senior guard Shi-Heria Shipp also scored in double figures with 11, and her boards helped GW win that battle 39-34. Mostafa, though not particularly successful shooting, was able to get seven rebounds of her own.

The Dayton Flyers (27-1, 14-0 Atlantic 10) proved a bit too much for the Colonials (14-16, 8-8 Atlantic 10) to handle in a rematch of an 80-51 Dayton win in Ohio earlier this season. GW kept things close until Dayton was able to go on a 15-2 tear to end the half, which included a transition three from guard Andrea Hoover. Transition scoring was key, especially early on for Dayton. The Flyers’ phenomenal ability to hit stop-and-pop jumpers in transition fueled the Flyers and set them up to have a 43-21 lead at the half.

Coach Tsipis was keenly aware of Dayton’s quickness, noting that “Dayton’s way too good of a team…to be half a step slow.” They got beaten down the court by just enough on several occasions to allow easy baskets. Dayton would lob the ball down the court as opposed to bringing it down traditionally, especially in the first half, which would give their shooters a few extra steps.

The blistering speed of Dayton slowed down a bit in the second half, allowing the Colonials to keep the Flyers from really flying away. The 22-point deficit did not shrink by much, but GW kept the deficit under 25 in the first fifteen minutes of the half.

“That was a tough mountain to come back from,” said Tsipis about the deficit. He was impressed in his team’s ability to play this talented Dayton team close. Offensively, GW was often forced to pass several times to get clean looks at the basket. “They were the aggressor,” said Tsipis. “We took a lot of shots at the end of the shot clock, I think that just revs up their transition game.” Dayton recorded 11 blocks, led by forward Jodie Cornelie Sigmundova with five. Guards and forwards alike were being stopped by the bigs inside by Dayton.

The Colonials finish the season with a loss, but they have a lot to be proud of. Check back to this site later in the week for a full recap of GW’s season.


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