Women’s Basketball Writer
CINCINNATI, Ohio—Senior forward Megan Nipe’s open look from beyond the arc with one second on the clock rimmed out, ending GW’s shot at taking the Xavier Musketeers to overtime and ending the game with a 65-62 Xavier win.
The Colonials got into that situation after Xavier’s best free throw shooter, junior Shatyra Hawkes, missed two straight with 10 seconds left to allow graduate student forward Tara Booker to bring the ball down the court and set up a potential game-tying look. They passed it around near the top of the key until they found the open shot, but it missed off the back of the rim.
The Colonials, after being down at halftime, led for most of the second half. The first half saw Xavier, one of the conference’s best three point shooting teams make four threes. The Colonials went on a 9-2 run in the second half and did a good job of stopping the threes and stopping the penetration of Xavier. GW was able to get the lead up to seven, behind the career-high four three-pointers from senior guard Danni Jackson. However, the defense that was doing so well stopping the Musketeers was doing poorly in terms of not fouling Xavier. Sending a good free throw shooting team to the line often is not good, and landing in the double bonus with over six minutes left in the second half does not help with that. Xavier grabbed the lead for the first time with a three-point play with 1:35 to go and did not look back.
The difference in the game was a glaring number on the stat sheet: 34. That is how many free throw attempts Xavier got, nailing 26 of those tries. With 40% of their points coming from the charity stripe, Xavier’s offense did not need to be potent because the 22 GW fouls proved to be enough. GW shot 15 more field goals and made nine more of those shots than the Musketeers, but the foul shots proved to be just enough to put Xavier over the top.
Danni Jackson led the way for the Colonials, notching her second-highest scoring mark, getting 18 points on 7-15 shooting. Megan Nipe also had that shooting mark, scoring 15. Grad student Tara Booker pulled down double-digit boards for the third time in six games, however GW was outrebounded 38-36. They fall to 2-12 when they lose the battle on the boards.
Xavier’s lineup is smaller in height, but they were able to win the rebounding battle on the backs of forwards Amber Gray and Jessica Pachko, who combined for 20 rebounds. Their sheer physicality and size inside allowed them to out-muscle Booker, Sara Mostafa, and Shi-Heria Shipp inside. The star for the Musketeers, however, was the 5’10” freshman guard Jenna Crittendon, who played 34 minutes off the bench and scored a career-high 19 points. She used her size to work her way inside, but also knocked down some key outside jumpers.
Coach Jonathan Tsipis talked in his postgame interview with WRGW about how the team needs to learn how to close, himself included, as games like this are what the Colonials will see in the conference tournament. With the win, the Musketeers have punched their ticket to Philadelphia for the conference tournament. GW is now tied with Xavier and Richmond for seventh with a half-game lead over Saint Louis, who plays Dayton on Thursday. Xavier now holds the tiebreaker over GW, which means GW needs a win and a Xavier loss (to 3-25 UMass) to get the seventh seed, avoid the 8/9 game, and avoid a second round matchup against national powerhouse Dayton. Butler’s tight win over Temple secured the sixth seed for them, who is likely to finish their conference schedule undefeated.
GW (12-15, 6-7 A-10) will say farewell to their seniors on Sunday at home against the Saint Louis Billikens in their season finale. Tip is at 2 p.m., and you can catch all of the action on WRGW District Radio – Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com.