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.