Women’s Basketball Writer
PHILADELPHIA - Postseason basketball: where teams take their energy and urgency as far as they can. The Colonials were able to push it a little farther than Richmond on Friday.
GW runs of 15-2 and 10-2 bookended what proved to be a thrilling 8-9 battle in the first game of the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Championship, as the Colonials (14-15, 8-7 A-10) were able to get a 59-53 win over the Richmond Spiders (16-15, 6-9) to advance to the quarterfinals.
In a game that was a rematch of a 57-54 GW win in Washington back in early February, the Colonials were able to shoot 44 percent, their seventh game at or above that mark this season. They were led in scoring by senior guard Danni Jackson, who scored 13 points and recorded five assists and three steals. Senior forward Megan Nipe netted 12 points and pulled down six boards, and graduate student forward Tara Booker just missed out on a double-double, grabbing 12 rebounds to go with nine points.
After a layup by redshirt senior Rachael Bilney in the opening minutes, the Colonials rattled off 15 straight, including a three by Danni Jackson. “I thought we started the game with a great sense of urgency,” said head coach Jonathan Tsipis after the game. The Colonials shot 7-12 to start things off, finding open jumpers and having success getting the ball into the post.
However, that run would be ended by a jumper from junior guard Becca Wann, who came off the bench and dominated offensively in the first half. While the rest of her Spider teammates shot 5-28 from the field, Wann went 4-6 and scored 13 before the halftime break. Also a varsity soccer player at Richmond, she used her quickness to get around the Colonials man-to-man defense, which otherwise kept Richmond cold.
The key to that defense was graduate student center Sara Mostafa, who also came off the bench to contribute. She did a great job of both sticking to her assigned player and manning the post, dissuading any would-be penetrators and helping to force poor shot selection.
After that run, the game tightened up significantly. From the 7:58 mark in the first half until over five minutes into the second half, neither team was able to string together two uninterrupted scoring possessions. Richmond was able to inch closer on the back of threes by Wann and redshirt senior Samantha Bilney, making it a six-point game at halftime.
The second half saw a shift in emphasis offensively for the Spiders, as GW moved senior Shi-Heria Shipp onto Wann which, combined with foul trouble, held Wann to just four points in the half. Coach Tsipis said that his players “did a better job of taking away her dribble-drive action” in the second half, in part due to Shipp’s ability to stick tight to Wann.
Junior guard Kristina King was able to pick up the slack, however, scoring 14 points in the second half. Richmond stuck with the Colonials and was able to finally take a lead with 5:55 left to go in the game at 51-49.
Crucial to Richmond’s ability to come back late in the game was offensive rebounding. Usually a hallmark of this team, GW was able to nab just three offensive boards in the first 30 minutes of the game. Also allowing the Spiders to retake the lead was their ability on defense, especially in the second half, to prevent efficient penetrations from the guards.
GW had lost leads before, but they knew that they had to play differently. “We didn’t blink,” said Tsipis of the Richmond comeback. “[Jackson] did a great job of keeping this team composed when they were making their run.” Her leadership and the level-headedness of the players in the later stretch of the game helped them come back from that small deficit and hold on for the win.
After being down 51-49, GW finished strong on a 10-2 run, which included several made free throws that helped ice the game. The Colonials were able to execute their defense effectively, stopping the Spiders from getting to the basket and getting open looks without drawing many costly fouls.
This is a major win for what has been a historically successful GW women’s basketball program. The Colonials have not made the semifinals of the conference tournament after doing it in 26 of the previous 27 years, and this is the first postseason win for anyone on the roster, including Sara Mostafa and Tara Booker, who are in their final year. Tsipis is not taking the win for granted, as he is appreciative of that fact that there are “a lot of teams that don’t get to play again tomorrow.”
As Tsipis alluded to, the Colonials will take the floor tomorrow in the quarterfinals, going up against the top seed in the tournament, the #11 Dayton Flyers (26-1, 14-0) from Hagan Arena. The tip is at noon, and you can catch all of the action on WRGW Sports – Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com.
Men’s Basketball Writer
PHILADELPHIA – The George Washington Colonials fell to the La Salle Explorers amidst a barrage of three-pointers for the second time this season, this time losing 84-70 at the Tom Gola Arena on Wednesday night.
GW allowed La Salle to hit 11 three-pointers in their first meeting on February 2nd, an 80-71 La Salle win at the Charles E. Smith Center. This time out, they allowed La Salle to convert on 12 of their 22 three-point attempts. This, combined with 16 turnovers and only one made three-pointer of their own sealed the Colonials’ fourth straight loss and seventh in their last nine games.
However, on offense, GW was pretty effective. They shot 55 percent as a team and grabbed 11 more rebounds than La Salle. Isaiah Armwood secured his eighth double-double of the season, leading the team with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Lasan Kromah added 15 points on 7-13 shooting in 23 minutes off the bench while Kethan Savage put together a solid effort with 12 points on 6-9 from the field. Kevin Larsen also had a solid, all-around performance with eight points, five rebounds, and six assists.
Yet, the Colonials were perpetually behind from the 15:36 mark of the first half after beginning the game in a back-and-forth tussle with the Explorers. After grabbing a 10-9 lead, GW would allow a 19-4 run over the next four minutes to put La Salle ahead for good. They surrendered 10 of La Salle’s 12 three-pointers in the first half alone and could not find an answer to stifle the Explorers’ precision from beyond the arc. By halftime, a Tyreek Duren buzzer beater put La Salle ahead by 10 at 47-37.
The Explorers would take further control of the game in the second half, keeping GW at bay and never letting them get closer than 12 at any point. Furthermore, La Salle’s effective, time consuming possessions toward the end of the half thwarted any chance of a late GW comeback.
Ramon Galloway scored 29 points on 11-17 shooting in his final game in front of the home fans at Tom Gola Arena. Tyreek Duren added 19 points while Jerrell Wright had 16 points and seven rebounds for a La Salle squad that shot 61 percent from the field as a team.
The defensive effort from the Colonials is certain to raise a number of red flags from fans as they head into Saturday’s win-or-go-home matchup with Dayton (17-12, 7-8 Atlantic 10) at the Smith Center. GW’s defense, which had been and still is a strength, was porous tonight as they did nothing to deter La Salle from getting any and every shot they wanted throughout the game. However, the Colonials have also proven that they can step up defensively at any given moment, causing problems for such formidable opponents as Kansas State, Temple, Butler, and Saint Louis.
GW (12-16, 6-9 Atlantic 10) will need their defense to step in a huge way on Saturday if they are to emerge with a win and a ticket punched to Brooklyn for the Atlantic 10 Tournament. As was alluded to before, Saturday’s contest is effectively the Colonials’ unofficial first game of the tournament, after Charlotte came back to steal a win in overtime over lowly Duquesne, moving them to 7-8. The Colonials now sit on the outside looking in, a game behind Charlotte, Dayton, Richmond, and St. Bonaventure who occupy spots nine through 12 and with no possible way of securing a bid to the postseason with a loss. The task is extremely simple and for Mike Lonergan’s crew, it will be all hands on deck in order to secure the required win. Otherwise, their drive to the Atlantic 10 Tournament, dubbed “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” within the university, will end in a premature slumber.
You can catch all the action of Saturday’s contest with Dayton beginning at 1:45 with tipoff at 2 p.m. on WRGW-Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com.
Women’s Basketball Writer
WASHINGTON – In the final home game for graduate students Tara Booker, Sara Mostafa, and Brooke Wilson, emotions were high. With ceremonies honoring the players before the game and their families in the audience, the Colonials put on a good show to help Mostafa, Booker, and Wilson say goodbye, snagging a 68-55 win over the Saint Louis Billikens and finishing 7-7 in Atlantic 10 play.
The Colonials played some of their best basketball of the season in the first half, scoring 42 points and shooting 63 percent from the field. Senior guard Megan Nipe scored 16 of her career-high 20 points in the half, shooting 7-7 from the field. The first half also saw the bigs for GW, including Mostafa and Booker, do a fantastic job of keeping some of the more physical Saint Louis players like Mallory Eggert and Jenna Mueller at bay. This was key in GW winning the rebounding battle 22-13; coming into the game, Saint Louis allowed the fewest rebounds per game this season with 32, but GW was able to pull down 43, including 16 on the offensive glass. It was that hustle that allowed GW to go into halftime with a 19-point lead, ending the half on an improbably-made three-pointer by guard Danni Jackson.
The Billikens still had some fight in them, however. GW led by as much as 23 but by the middle of the second half, Saint Louis had cut the lead to seven, behind Jenna Mueller and Jacy Bradley’s scoring. The vaunted Colonials defense, which had done a good job stopping penetration and passes into the post became a bit looser as Saint Louis’ shots began to fall. The momentum was temporary, as the lead at halftime was insurmountable. The last basket for the Billikens came with 2:40 to go in the game, as GW was able to keep control in the final stretch.
Despite playing much more poorly in the second half than in the first half, the Colonials still put out a performance to be proud of. “You hope your team [in February] is playing their best basketball of the year,” said Coach Jonathan Tsipis, and he has seen that out of his team this month. GW shot 48.3 percent on the day, mostly through finding open holes in the Saint Louis defense.
Megan Nipe finished as the leading scorer for the Colonials with 20 points, while Danni Jackson put in 17 points and four assists. Sara Mostafa ended her Smith Center career with 13 points and eight rebounds. Tara Booker and Brooke Wilson were unable to score in their last game in Foggy Bottom, the latter due to an ACL injury that came against Virginia Tech, which was the last game in which Booker was scoreless.
The Colonials are done in the Smith Center and with the regular season, but the postseason rolls on. GW will play in the first round of their tournament on Friday, and this team is ready. “We’ve played tough teams, we’ve been in tough situations, and I think we’ve learned together and we know what to do,” said Mostafa after this game, and this team is ready for their matchup in Philadelphia. “Each day of practice is to be the most prepared team possible,” said Tsipis, who is proud of the fact that the team is playing for something in March.
GW (13-15, 7-7 Atlantic 10) have earned the number eight seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, pitting them against ninth-seeded Richmond (16-14, 6-8 Atlantic 10) in the opening round on Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena on the campus of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. You can catch the action starting at 11:15 on WRGW District Radio – Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com.
Men’s Basketball Writer
WASHINGTON - Coming off a disheartening loss to Richmond on Wednesday night, the George Washington Colonials had the eighteenth-ranked team in the country on the ropes with seven minutes left to play on Saturday afternoon at the Charles E. Smith Center. However, they could not carry that lead home to the finish, ultimately falling to the Saint Louis Billikens 66-58.
Kevin Larsen led the Colonials in scoring, finishing with 14 points on 7-14 shooting to go along with four rebounds. Seniors Lasan Kromah and Dwayne Smith combined for 22 points off the bench, with Kromah scoring 12 and Smith scoring 10, while Isaiah Armwood grabbed 10 rebounds. Patricio Garino also had a solid game, finishing with a modest stat line of eight points, six rebounds, and four steals in the losing effort.
Saint Louis (23-5, 12-2 Atlantic 10) was led by junior forward Dwayne Evans, who finished with an impressive line of 22 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes of action. Kwamain Mitchell was also a thorn in the Colonials’ sides, using his speed and explosiveness with the ball to finish with 18 points on 6-12 shooting. Jordair Jett also contributed off the bench for the Billikens, finishing with 11 points on an efficient 3-5 shooting.
The game itself can best be described as a good, old-fashioned slugfest dominated by physicality on both ends of the floor. The teams were equal inmost facets of the game, with both squads shooting about 41 percent from the field. Saint Louis grabbed 34 total rebounds while GW garnered 32 of their own. The Billikens turned the ball over 16 times compared to the Colonials’ 14.
But the game was decided on three-point and free throw shooting. The Billikens made three more three-pointers than GW did in the win while converting on 21 of their 24 free throw attempts. Meanwhile, the Colonials made only eight of their 15 free throw opportunities, once again creating headaches for Mike Lonergan, the coaching staff, and the GW fans in attendance on Saturday.
Yet, despite their woes in those two crucial categories, GW weathered a few Saint Louis runs and led by three with 7:12 remaining, sending the 3,258 in attendance into a frenzy. But, a 14-3 Billiken run over the next four and a half minutes proved to be too much for the Colonials to handle as Saint Louis took firm control of the game and proved by they are the eighteenth-ranked team in the country and, arguably, the best team in the Atlantic 10.
However, GW has nothing to hang their heads about following a hard-fought loss to a team that is, quite simply, more talented than they are. In fact, they can take pride in the fact that they forced a Saint Louis team averaging only 11 turnovers per game entering Saturday to commit 16 turnovers on the afternoon. In addition, the Colonials’ 1-3-1 zone employed in early portion of the second half created many problems for the Billikens that took a while to remedy.
However, coming close can only provide you so much solace and for the Colonials, while they did play one of their better games of the season and proved to be a worthy foe for a highly talented Billiken team, it still was not enough to come out with a win. In fact, the loss, combined with Dayton’s four point win over Richmond, puts GW in an extremely precarious spot entering the final week of the Atlantic 10 season. Regardless of who wins the matchup between Charlotte and St. Bonaventure, the Colonials will be in a three-way tie for eleventh place, with one of those teams on the outside looking in. The Colonials still control their own destiny entering the final week, with two wins assuring them a spot in Brooklyn. However, they have set themselves up for a nail-biting final week.
GW (12-15, 6-8 Atlantic 10) will now prepare for their final road game of the season, a tough rematch from earlier in the season with La Salle (20-7, 10-4 Atlantic 10) at the Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia. Coverage starts at 6:45 with tipoff at 7 p.m. on WRGW-Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com.