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Your Guide to GW sports

Junior guard Yuta Watanabe drives the ball to the hoop against Duquesne on Wednesday. He led GW with 15 points during the team's win. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

Junior guard Yuta Watanabe drives the ball to the hoop against Duquesne on Wednesday. He led GW with 15 points and five assists. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

Men’s basketball never trailed Wednesday at the Smith Center, but came just inches away from letting a fourth straight conference game slip away.

Although the Colonials maintained a double-digit lead for a good portion of the night, Duquesne (9-10, 2-4 A-10) roared back midway through the second half to tie the score at 56 with less than five minutes to play.

A desperation heave from Jaren Sina found a way in, and the Dukes’ leading scorer missed a last-second, potentially game-winning three during a frenetic final minute that ended in a 65-63 win for GW (10-9, 2-4 A-10). The decision snapped a three-game skid and marked the team’s second Atlantic 10 victory of the year.

“The message [after Duquesne tied the game] was ‘we’ve been here before,’” interim head coach Maurice Joseph said. “‘There is no need to panic. Everybody stay even keel, and let’s go get the next shot.”

Sina did just that a few plays later after his three-point attempt was blocked with his team up by three. The redshirt junior guard calmly caught the miss and immediately put it back up with the shot clock at one.

The shot clanged off the iron, but willed its way into the hoop to put the Colonials ahead 63-57 with 36 seconds remaining – a play that proved pivotal down the stretch.

“It was a great feeling. Definitely a lucky shot, but I’ll take it,” Sina said. “Once I saw it [go up] – I don’t even know – it kind of curved in…Sometimes the basketball gods help you out.”

Sina and junior guard Yuta Watanabe led the charge offensively, posting 14 and a game-high 15 points on the night, respectively, as GW shot 42.1 percent from the field as a team to Duquesne’s 40.6.

Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh also reached double-digits with 11 points and a team-best 10 rebounds – good for his sixth double-double this season.

The first-half was a three-point spree for the Colonials, as Sina and Watanabe each hit back-to-back triples to put open a 12-4 lead to start the game.

Freshman guard Jair Bolden earned his first career start Wednesday night alongside Cavanaugh, Watanabe, Sina and freshman forward Arnaldo Toro. The rookie and Watanabe were tasked with defending Duquesne’s two top-scorers in Ernie Blackman and Mike Lewis II, who went a combined 4-for-14 in the first half.

Freshman guard Jair Bolden dribbles around a Dukes defender. The game marked the first career start for Bolden who finished with five points, four assists and four rebounds. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

Freshman guard Jair Bolden dribbles around a Dukes defender. The game marked the first career start for Bolden who finished with five points, four assists and four rebounds. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

Bolden finished his debut start with five points, four rebounds and four assists in 31 minutes on the floor.

“[Bolden] is doing a better job defensively. That is why he is in the position,” Joseph said. “In practices he is doing a better job guarding, he is understanding how to guard pick-and-roll situations a little better position wise, he is a tough kid who has some size. We don’t really have that off the bench.”

GW would go 8-for-17 from deep in the opening frame and shot 45.5 percent despite being outscored in the paint 20-10. That’s where the Dukes would score the majority of their first-half points, as the visitors were held to 1-for-8 from long range.

Duquesne finished the period on a 5-0 run, but a strong performance on both ends of the floor still had GW – who led by as much as 16 – up 38-29 at the break.

The home team picked up right where it left off, as Sina drained another triple to kick off a 7-2 run that opened the second half.

But the Colonials quickly went cold, unable to find ways to score against a Duquesne defense that looked like it had found new life. After a red-hot first-half GW went only 3-for-8 from three-point range in the second, and shot 37.5 percent from the field.

Defensive lapses, nine second-half turnovers and eight personal fouls by GW helped the Dukes – who went 7-for-13 from the line on the night to GW’s 6-for-10 – claw their way back into the game.

After Sina’s big-time three, GW found itself up just two with five seconds remaining and Tyler Cavanaugh at the line. The graduate student forward’s front-end of a one-and-one bounced off the rim and the Dukes grabbed the rebound.

Duquesne junior guard Rene Castro, who had a team-high 13 points, got one last look from beyond the arc but could not get it to fall, handing GW a much-needed league win.

The Colonials look to improve to 3-4 in A-10 play next Wednesday, when they travel across the Potomac for a 7 p.m. showdown with local rival George Mason (12-6, 2-3 A-10).

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PHILADELPHIA — The first five shots of Sunday’s game were all three-point attempts. GW missed its three, while La Salle’s guards sunk both of their shots.

The contest at Tom Gola Arena was far from over at that point, but the early game performance set a tone. It was just the beginning of a game where the Explorers seemed one step ahead throughout.

Despite good shooting and solid offensive movement, the Colonials (9-9, 1-4 A-10) could not keep up with A-10 foe La Salle (10-5, 4-1 A-10). The visitors never led, and eventually fell 79–69 to mark their third consecutive loss and fifth in six games.

“It’s disappointing. We knew at the start of the season that we could shoot the ball with anybody we play against,” interim head coach Maurice Joseph said. “On the defensive end is where we are going to separate ourselves. When we shoot the ball this well but then give up 61.4 percent on the other end, we are not going to beat anyone.”

GW knocked down 23 out of their 48 attempts from the floor, assisting on 15 of them. Such statistics are usually a recipe for success, but compared to the Explorers offense, it was hardly competitive.

La Salle shot a stand-out 61.4 percent from the floor, 64.7 percent from behind the arc and 93.3 percent from the free throw line, hardly ever taking its foot off the gas pedal offensively.

“There were defensive breakdowns, we didn’t talk enough on defense, which let guys get open threes,” freshman guard Jair Bolden said. “As a team, we didn’t do the things we needed to do well enough.

La Salle redshirt senior guard Jordan Price particularly had his way against the GW defense. He finished with 23 points, shooting 9-of-11 from the floor and 4-of-5 from distance.

A small bright spot for GW over the past three loses has been the emergence of Bolden as a physical guard with scoring ability. After putting up career-highs in points (12) and minutes (27) last time out, he led the Colonials with 16 points Sunday in 30 minutes of play.

“Jair did a tremendous job all game. He is a bigger defender. He is doing a better job with his confidence,” Joseph said. “The last two games, even though we lost them were very positive for Jair.”

Junior guard Yuta Watanabe and graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh also had solid nights the Colonials offensively on the night combining for 26 points and 12 rebounds. Though they were able to find the basket, both of scoring totals were below their respective averages and not enough to close the gap.

The Colonials came in with a big height advantage. GW started four players 6-feet-8-inches or taller compared to just one for the Explorers. Despite the differential, La Salle commanded the paint on the offensive end. They finished with 14 more points in the paint after leading 16-0 in the category at the half.

“They played small and at one point had five perimeter guys out there, which takes away our strength of us trying to play big,” Joseph said. “Then you can’t play big and play zone because they could all shoot the ball. It was a tough matchup for us.”

After trailing 12–4 in the first four minutes, GW was able to find a spark from Bolden in the form of five unanswered points and keep the game from getting out of hand in the opening frame.

Jump shots from sophomore guard Jordan Roland, redshirt junior point guard Jaren Sina and Watanabe kept the Colonials within striking distance despite the consistent shooting of La Salle’s offense.

The Explorers scored the only points in the final two minutes of the first half, finishing with a 4-0 run and extending the margin to 10 points, the largest of the game so far, by the halftime break.

GW came into the second half intense on offense and ready to cut into the lead. Cavanaugh and Watanabe combined for six unanswered points, making it a four-point game. The Explorers calmly responded, capitalizing on several Colonials misses and sinking two baskets of their own.

Baskets from Watanabe twice made it a four-point game with just over a quarter of the game left to play. La Salle again stayed ahead of the attempted GW comeback by going on a 19-3 run that seemed to put all of the Colonials hopes at a comeback down the drain.

As the Explorers maintained their offensive fluidity, the final six minutes went quickly and without much contention.

“Now is not the time for us to lose confidence or to think it’s crisis management,” Joseph said. “We have to go out there, keep going to work and keep getting better.”

The Colonials return home on Wednesday when they will host Duquesne at the Smith Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista dribbles during GW's win over Davidson Sunday. Bautisita

Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista dribbles during GW’s win over Davidson Sunday. Bautista led GW with four assists and added three steals in the 14-point victory. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal.

With GW’s leading scorer out of the lineup due to injury, graduate transfer Lexi Martins stepped in to record her fifth consecutive double-double and lead women’s basketball (12-6, 5-1 A-10) to a 76-62 victory over the Davidson Wildcats (2-15, 0-5 A-10) Sunday afternoon.

Martins took advantage of her first start of the season, recording 14 points and ten boards while filling in for senior forward Caira Washington, who was forced to watch from the sidelines with a sprained wrist. Martins has now recorded a double-double in all six conference games thus far.

“Sometimes it’s a good scenario to have in the middle of the season, when you’re in a position where you need certain guys to step up,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “It’s good for our team to have to rally together and figure out a way to do that and they did…I felt like we had a really good identity as a group.”

Martins was one of four players in double figures for the Colonials. Senior shooting guard Shannon Cranshaw knocked down four of five triples and had a season-high and game-best 15 points on the day, and sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista recorded 10 points and three steals.

After recording a career-high nine assists against George Mason, Bautista again did a good job directing the offense, dishing a team-high four assists and committing just one turnover. Prange (12p, 4r) rounded out the Colonials’ scoring with double-digits.

“I know Coach Rizzotti is really tough on [Mei-Lyn], and I think of the three of us, by-committee, she’s our best point guard,” Cranshaw said of Bautista. “She’s so unselfish…I’m very proud of what she’s done so far and I know the sky’s the limit for what she can do at GW.”

Both teams started slow, shooting a combined 4-for-20 before the first media timeout and committing 12 combined turnovers in the opening quarter. However, the Colonials opened up an early 13-6 lead thanks to a 7-0 run to close the quarter. Justine Lyon scored all six points for the Wildcats in the opening period.

After the Colonials got out to a double-digit lead early in the second quarter, sloppy play by GW led to a furious 19-0 Davidson run that spanned over six minutes. After a flurry of three pointers to close the period, both teams went into the locker room tied at 29, with Cranshaw leading the Colonials behind perfect 3-for-3 shooting from beyond the arc in the half.

“I know going into games that opposing teams really worry about our post play, so when I go in it’s my role to help relieve some pressure,” Cranshaw said. “I’ve just been getting in the gym over winter break since we’ve had extra time…and I’m happy that today it was able to come together and I was able to step up when we were missing some shots early.”

GW continued to look out of sync to start the third quarter, as they gave up an early 8-2 run and allowed Davidson’s leading scorer Mackenzie Latt to net eight points through the first seven minutes. However, Latt left to the locker room with a knee injury, and Cranshaw hit a long three to end the period as the Colonials closed to within one, 44-43, heading into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the spotlight was on GW’s interior duo of Prange and Martins, who kept the Colonials afloat without Washington. Prange went on a solo 6-0 run with three straight makes to open the final period, and Martins followed up with a 6-0 run of her own after a Davidson three. Behind a 13-3 run, the Colonials took control and never looked back.

Despite playing with four fouls, Martins posted six defensive rebounds and two blocks, and after the game she stressed that she was more pleased with her defensive performance than her ability to carry the offense.

“I’m just trying to make sure that I’m getting my hands on defensive rebounds and finishing out defensive possessions,” Martins said. “Coach Rizzotti and the staff really stresses the focus and the attention to detail on the defensive end more than I’ve been used to in my college career.”

 

The Colonials will be back in action next Saturday as they travel to Amherst, MA to face to the UMass Minutewomen. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.

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Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 11:17 a.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball vs. Davidson

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal. 

What: Women’s basketball (11-6, 4-1 A-10) vs. Davidson (2-14, 0-4 A-10)

When: Sunday, January 15 at 2 p.m., CBSSN (TV)

Where: Charles E. Smith Center, Washington, D.C.

The Colonials will look to pick up their fifth win in six games as they host the Davidson Wildcats at the Smith Center, where GW is 6-1 this season and 47-7 over the past four years.

Case for the Colonials

When they faced off against the George Mason Patriots this past Wednesday, a normally-staunch Colonials defense gave up 32 first-half points and struggled to find stops before turning it around in the second half and overtime en route to a comeback victory.

After that game, head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said that her team is still working towards playing with intensity and energy for a full 40 minutes. They will get another shot to do so against a vulnerable Davidson team that is winless through four games of conference play.

The Colonials, owners of the third best scoring offense in the conference at 66.3 points per game, should find success on the offensive end against the Wildcats, who concede a conference-worst 72.1 points per game and allow opposing teams to shoot 41.5 percent from the field. The numbers seem to suggest that GW could be looking at a blowout victory, as one of the league’s top offenses faces off against one of the league’s weakest defenses.

Graduate transfer forward Lexi Martins continues to shine in A-10 play, averaging 14.5 points and 10.8 rebounds over the last four games and recording four consecutive double-doubles. Caira Washington, the team’s leading scorer, is averaging 11.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, making the duo of Martins and Washington one of the most explosive in the league and one that few teams have been able to limit.

Defensively, the Colonials must primarily focus on stopping two Wildcats – junior forward Mackenzie Latt and sophomore guard Justine Lyon, who are averaging 36.5 of the team’s 63.0 points per game in conference play. The Colonials can expect this duo to have the ball in their hands for most of the game, and if they are able to limit either player, they should avoid an upset.

Case for the Wildcats

The Colonials should be heavily favored in this game, but that makes it even more of a must-win game for GW. Should they let their guard down, any team in the Atlantic 10 could be capable of upsetting the Colonials and handing the back-to-back Atlantic 10 champions a bad loss. To illustrate, the Colonials’ lack of defensive focus led to a 66-61 loss to American University last month, a Patriot League team that was just 2-5 at the time.

One of the keys to American’s success was slowing down the normally uptempo GW offense, which feeds off of pushing the pace off of defensive stops and scoring points in transition. The Wildcats should look to emulate this strategy on the defensive end to limit the explosive Colonials offense, which scored 58 points in the second half and overtime against George Mason.

One way the Wildcats can slow down the Colonials is by looking to capitalize on their ability to force turnovers in order to get stops. They are one of the best in the conference when it comes to forcing turnovers via steals, with 8.3 per game; the Colonials will have to be careful with the rock.

Offensively, the Wildcats also have one of the most potent scoring duos in the league Latt and Lyon. Latt is a career 1000-point scorer who is averaging 15.7 ppg, the fourth-best mark in the conference, to go along with a team-best 8.3 rebounds. The last eight games combined, Latt is averaging a near double-double (19.8 ppg/9.8 rpg) and Justine Lyon has averages of 17.9 points and 5.5 rebounds.

However, the key for the Wildcats will be to get production from supporting players such as Chloe Johnson and Melanie Ransom, who need to be reliable third options to give their team a chance.

Bottom Line:

The Colonials have blown out the Wildcats in their previous two meetings and Sunday may be no different. With their balanced offensive attack facing a struggling defense, GW should be heavily favored at home.

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Then-redshirt junior Tyler Cavanaugh drives to the hoop in a game at VCU in February 2016. GW's leading scorer netted just six points in an 85-55 loss to the Rams at the Siegel Center Wednesday night. Hatchet file photo by Cameron Lancaster | Senior Staff Photographer

Then-redshirt junior Tyler Cavanaugh drives to the hoop in a game at VCU in February of 2016. GW’s leading scorer netted just six points in an 85-55 loss to the Rams at the Siegel Center Wednesday night. Hatchet file photo by Cameron Lancaster | Senior Staff Photographer

If battling the hottest team in the Atlantic 10 in a sold-out Siegel Center wasn’t a tall enough order, men’s basketball was also without its leading scorer for much of Wednesday night’s matchup with VCU.

Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who averaged 21.0 points across GW’s last two games, played only 21 minutes after getting into foul trouble in the first half and finished the contest with just six points. Up against the first-place Rams (14-3, 4-0 A-10) in search of an eighth consecutive victory, having him on the bench was the last thing the visitors needed.

VCU’s dominance on both sides of the ball was subsequently magnified, as the Colonials (9-8, 1-2 A-10) found themselves on the wrong end of a blowout, 85-55 decision in which the Rams shot 52 percent to GW’s 37.

“We did some good things with Tyler out – in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have played him in the first half with two [fouls] – but he’s a fifth year senior and you know, that’s going to happen,” interim head coach Maurice Joseph said. “Some other guys stepped up but we just didn’t hit enough shots to stay in the game, and we turned the ball over and didn’t get stops when we needed them.”

Junior guard Yuta Watanabe picked up the slack, leading GW with 17 points and had seven rebounds. Freshman guard Jair Bolden also impressed with 12 points in 27 minutes on the floor – both career-highs – while starting freshman center Collin Smith’s 10 points rounded out a wanting offensive effort.

The Rams’ Havoc defense was out in full-force to begin the game, stifling GW early by forcing nine first-half turnovers and holding the visitors to 29 percent from the field and an uncharacteristic 1-for-11 from three-point range in the opening frame.

VCU ended the night with nine steals, and scored 22 points off of 17 total GW giveaways.

“We didn’t do a good enough job of being poised. We’ve got to be a lot tougher,” Joseph said. “We knew exactly where [their pressure] was coming from, how they were going to do it. You can prepare for it as much as you want but playing against them and being in this environment, for a young team who hasn’t been here before, it’s different.”

Sophomore forward Justin Tillman’s relentless presence down-low jumpstarted VCU’s offense, which took a quick 16-8 lead and never looked back.

Tillman would score 10 in the first half and finish with a game-high 20 points, a large contributor to the Rams’ 48-22 advantage in the paint on the night.

“We knew coming in that what they do [offensively] stems from them getting in the paint,” Joseph said. “We had a gameplan in place to stop that, mixing up defenses and all that kind of stuff, we just didn’t do a good enough job of keeping them outside the paint.”

Cavanaugh was slapped with two fouls before the 13-minute mark of the first half as the two sides continued to go back-and-forth. The Colonials would reduce the deficit to just four points midway through the period but were never able to regain an advantage.

Down 30-20 with 4:35 remaining in the half, Cavanaugh stumbled on a drive to the paint and was assessed his third foul on a questionable charging call. From there, VCU went on a 21-7 run to close out the frame and take a 14-point edge into the break.

A fourth foul was given to Cavanaugh, another charge, early in the second half but with the Rams already leading by 21.

VCU continued to dominate in the second frame, as Tillman recorded his seventh double-double of the season, while six more Rams finished the game in double-figures. Up against GW’s zone for a good part of the contest, VCU closed out the performance going 7-for-18 (39%) from deep to GW’s 2-of-16 (13%), and won the boards 36-35.

The Colonials will try to snap a two-game skid Saturday at La Salle. Tip-off is slated for 4:30 p.m. on NBCSN.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal.

In game one of the annual Revolutionary Rivalry series between the two local foes, women’s basketball (11-6, 4-1 A-10) outlasted the George Mason Patriots (9-9, 2-3 A-10), 79-71, in overtime.

Once again, the Colonials received a stellar performance from graduate transfer Lexi Martins, who recorded her fourth consecutive double-double with 16 points and ten rebounds. The Lehigh transfer has been on a tear of late, averaging 13.8 points and 10.8 boards in conference play, both team-highs.

“[Martins] does a great job of reading the offense, working really hard on the low block to get position and being ready to shoot on the kick-outs from Caira,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “It’s a matter of her fitting in well in our offensive system and being confident in that system and our guys are doing a great job of getting her the ball when she’s open.”

Martins – who also collected her 1,000th career rebound during the contest – was one of five upperclassmen in double-figures for the Colonials. The team’s veteran leadership and experience keyed a second half comeback in which GW outscored the Patriots 18-4 in the third quarter to erase an 11-point, 32-21 halftime deficit.

Nonetheless, Rizzotti was unhappy with the team’s slow start to the game, in which the Colonials shot 29 percent from the field in the first half.

“As happy as I was with our intensity in the third quarter, I was kind of disappointed with how we started the game – it wasn’t the intensity we needed to have on both ends of the floor,” Rizzotti said. “We’re still trying to address that and talk about being a consistent team for 40 minutes.”

In the frontcourt, senior center Caira Washington posted 16 points and nine rebounds while also recording two blocks, making her defensive presence felt inside. Senior guard Hannah Schaible also matched her season-high with a team-leading 20 points to go along with nine rebounds, helping to close out the game with 13 of the team’s 18 points in the extra period. Junior forward Kelli Prange (12p) and senior shooting guard Shannon Cranshaw (10p) rounded out the five upperclassmen in double figures.

The Colonials looked out-of-sync and sluggish in the first 20 minutes, shooting just 1-of-11 from beyond the arc and allowed George Mason to get to the line repeatedly. And, despite being one of the best defensive teams in the conference, the Colonials allowed the Patriots to shoot 54 percent from the field in the opening frame.

The Colonials flipped the script in the third quarter, opening with full-court pressure to tire out the opponent and force more perimeter jump shots. Offensively, the Colonials fed off of their defense, finding easy looks in the post and knocking down three-pointers on kick-outs after drawing the defense in.

“We went to an extended zone press and I thought that it really flustered them – they were 1- for-13 in the third quarter,” Rizzotti said of the Colonials’ second-half adjustment. “But I think the fact that we got a lot more shots, we got a bunch of offensive rebounds and we were able to force some turnovers really got our intensity and our excitement up.”

The Patriots were led by redshirt junior guard Kara Wright, who leads her team in scoring, assists, and rebounds. Wright had 23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, doing much of her damage early in the game and late in the fourth quarter but struggling to score during GW’s comeback.

Although the Colonials held an eight-point lead with 2:03 to go, poor free throw shooting by GW left room for a George Mason comeback down the stretch. After Schaible split a pair of free throws to put the Colonials up 60-57, Wright got the ball out of a timeout and sunk a long three from the top of the key to send the game into overtime.

In the extra period, the Patriots ran out of gas after losing two of their top three scorers – Sylvia Maxwell and Alexsis Grate – to foul trouble and injury, respectively. The Colonials were able to close out the game thanks to Schaible, who scored 13 overtime points.

“I was just able to knock down shots and I had a lot more openings in the overtime,” Schaible said. “Since we were really well-conditioned we could cut really hard. With my foul situation I was out of the game a lot and I got a lot of rest, so I was able to play really hard and find open shots.”

Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista was nearly flawless running the point, recording a career-high nine assists after having zero in a loss to Dayton on Sunday. Bautista’s only blemish was a single turnover late in the game.

“I like to be very unselfish, and that’s my goal every time I go in the game. Today our movement made it so much better for me to see the post, see my links in transition,” Bautista said. “When we’re all on the same page, everyone achieves their goals, and that was my goal today – just to get my teammates the ball.”

The Colonials return home to face the Davidson Wildcats on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Barbara Alberts.

Women’s basketball head coach Jennifer Rizzotti participated in a panel discussion about sexual assault for the “It’s on Us” campaign summit at the White House last week.

Rizzotti, alongside Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade, spoke on a panel called “Changing the Culture Through Sports.” Panelists motivated students to take a stand against sexual violence and to prevent sexual assault. 

Other members of the panel included the NCAA Chief of Staff Cari Van Senus, Jen Zudonyi of Major League Baseball and Temple University football player Jacob Martin.  The panel was moderated by Neil Irvin, the executive director of Men Can Stop Rape.

The “It’s on Us” campaign began three years ago with the goal to change how sexual assault is talked about on college campuses. University president Steven Knapp signed onto the campaign when it launched.

Rizzotti said in an interview that as the women’s basketball head coach she feels a responsibility to use her position to help spread the message of the “It’s on Us” campaign and to battle the stigma around sexual violence.

“It’s important when you’re a role model in the community to make sure that you stay involved in anything that can make a difference,” Rizzotti said.  “As a college basketball coach, where you’re daily in touch with 18-to-22-year-olds, certainly part of my job is to make sure I make a positive impact on their lives in ways other than [on the court].”

Rizzotti said her position in D.C. makes her even more motivated to contribute to social causes.   

“Part of the decision for me to move from Connecticut to D.C. was to make sure that I wasn’t in an insulated lifestyle where I wasn’t able to make an impact beyond just my own family and my women’s basketball team,” Rizzotti said.  “Being in D.C. I feel an increased responsibility to be socially conscious and to make sure I’m participating in things that really make a difference.”

Rizzotti’s team has also inspired her to continue to use her voice to help bring change to the GW community, she said. 

“I’ve been impressed with my own student athletes and how much they care about what’s going on in the world around them,” Rizzotti said.  “I want to make sure I’m living up to my part in that as well.”  

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Marty Fenn.

In a defensive battle of wills, the Dayton Flyers (9-7, 3-1 A-10) handed women’s basketball (10-6, 3-1 A-10) its first conference loss of the year on a chilly Sunday afternoon in Ohio where the weather was as symbolic of both teams’ cold shooting as anything else.

Graduate forward Lexi Martins recorded her third consecutive double-double for the Colonials, posting 11 points and 12 rebounds, while senior frontcourt-mate Caira Washington added 10 points, nine boards, and four blocks in the 50-48 defeat.

Guard Kelley Austria led the Flyers with 19 points, while forward Saicha Grant-Allen posted eight points and 12 rebounds in a solid overall performance. GW shot just 31 percent from the field – its second-worst clip this season – and Dayton couldn’t do much better at 33 percent, as both team struggled to find a consistent offensive presence.

“Dayton’s big and they did a nice job of pushing our posts off the block,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “I think sometimes we need to have a bit more patience and try to get spacing so we can also attack off the dribble.

“I think [Dayton and GW] are two of the better defensive teams in the league.”

The Flyers appeared to put the Colonials away early, storming out to a 16-2 lead in the first quarter behind strong play from guard Jenna Burdette – who led all players with 11 assists – and Grant-Allen, who worked the pick-and-roll to perfection. The Flyers scored in the paint at will, asserting their dominance in the area en route to a 26-16 advantage in the lane for the game.

However, GW would not go down quietly. Martins and junior winger Brianna Cummings were able to get to the free throw line and help GW build some momentum and get back into the game. After a 21-6 run spanning the two quarters, the Colonials had their first lead midway through the second period.

The two teams went into the break all squared up at 29, and the second half proved to be a tense back-and-forth affair, with neither team willing to give ground or take a definitive advantage in the contest. Every time GW would run a post action to get an easy bucket for Washington, Dayton would seem to answer with a bucket from Austria, or a trip to the line down the stretch.

With neither team able to seize control, the game was still up in the air with two minutes to play in the final period and the score tied at 46 apiece. Washington, on a GW miss, stole the ball away from multiple Flyers defenders and scored on a putback to give the Colonials a lead, only to have Austria answer with a huge triple and put Dayton back on top 49-48 with 1:50 to play.

“We had a few defensive lapses in that stretch in the fourth quarter,” said Rizzotti.  “There was a defensive switch where we gave up [Austria’s three], and it was just one of those things where obviously those kinds of plays become more costly in a close game.”

GW had multiple chances to tie the game or take the lead in the closing moments, but senior Hannah Schaible dribbled the ball off her own foot with under 20 seconds to play, and a post entry slipped through Washington’s hands in the final seconds.

“We need to execute plays better and get consistent defensive stops in order to close out games,” said Washington.

After a final desperation heave at the buzzer by senior guard Camila Tapias fell short, the Colonials found themselves on the losing end of a conference game for the first time this year.

GW will travel to Fairfax, Va. to take on the George Mason Patriots on Wednesday. Tip-off is slated for 11 a.m.

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Interim head coach Maurice Joseph talks to Tyler Cavanaugh during GW's win over USF on Dec. 3. Cavanaugh led GW with 22 points against Richmond Sunday as the Colonials fell 77-70. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Interim head coach Maurice Joseph talks with graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh during GW’s win over USF on Dec. 3. Cavanaugh led GW with 22 points in Sunday afternoon’s loss to Richmond. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Through their first two Atlantic 10 games, the Richmond Spiders demonstrated their offensive ability, defeating Davidson and Fordham and maintaining the league’s best field goal percentage.

On Sunday afternoon, despite an impressive second-half rally, men’s basketball was unable to keep up with the powerful scoring machine that is the Spiders’ roster. Richmond finished with a 77–70 win behind a balanced attack that boasted four starters who scored between 14 points or more.

“[Richmond] shot lights-out, but I thought defensively that our attention to detail and focus just wasn’t there,” interim head coach Maurice Joseph said. “I need to a better job and figure out how to get guys to lock-in and understand what we need to do.”

Although the Spiders (9-6, 3-0 A-10) led by 23 with just 13 minutes remaining, GW never quit and mounted a game-altering comeback. The Colonials (9-7, 1-2 A-10) raced back with a 17-4 run in less than six minutes to make it an eight-point game.

Ultimately, Richmond could be slowed down but not stopped. In the victory, the Spiders shot a stellar 61.5 percent from the floor compared to 45.3 on the game for the Colonials.

“It was just too little, too late,” Joseph said. “I knew we would fight back, that’s what we do, we have done it all year…If we had a couple more shots fall for us I thought we would have had a chance, it might be a different outcome, but they rimmed out and that’s going to happen.”

During the run, Joseph decided to play small to keep up with the fast-paced Spiders offense. He counted on freshman guard Jair Bolden to play 14 second-half minutes including pressuring the Richmond guards during crunch time.

“We had to go small and match up on the perimeter,” Joseph said. “Jair is a tough kid, a tough defender. I knew that he would be a person who could match up with [Richmond guard De’Monte] Buckingham and fight over screens.”

Richmond seemed to be knocking down just about every three-pointer it put up during the matchup, especially in the first half. They finished 8-for-15 from behind the arc including a 7-for-10 clip before halftime.

Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh led the Colonials on the night with a game-high 22 points and a team-high 7 rebounds and 4 assists. He had the Colonials’ only three baskets from behind the three-point line in the first half and finished 7-for-7 from the charity stripe.

Early in the game both sides were able to find openings. Freshman center Collin Smith piled up six quick points on the interior. Richmond also found empty lanes. Buckingham reached the rim without contestation multiple times in the opening minutes.

The Colonials never had the lead, but the game remained within striking distance for several minutes. After a three from Cavanaugh and free throws from freshman forward Arnaldo Toro, Richmond only led by one point, 19–18.

Then, the Spiders turned up the fire offensively, piling up 15 unanswered points, including four three-pointers, giving them a 34–18 lead. The GW defense appeared unable to counteract the hot shooting.

“We didn’t play good defense tonight. We didn’t follow the scouting report. They got easy buckets,” Cavanaugh said. “Myself included, we did not defend.”

The Colonials offensive struggles stretched out for even longer than the run. They did not connect on a field goal for more than nine minutes and looked disorganized while attacking the basket.

Near the end of the half, from Cavanaugh’s scoring and a better defensive stint, GW was able to bring the margin to 40–29 at the break.

Any momentum that the Colonials picked up at the end of the first frame was lost almost immediately. Richmond went on a 6-0 run in the first two minutes of the half and brought the margin to 19 points before the first media timeout.

During GW’s second half run, its defense stepped up as the crowd got them re-energized. For nearly seven minutes, the Colonials looked in absolute control as every shot attempt the Spiders took was difficult and challenged.

With just under five minutes remaining in the contest, redshirt junior Jaren Sina had a chance at a three-pointer to cut the difference to four points. Richmond responded with two layups and a free throw, ballooning the lead to 74–62.

GW made one final run, with Sina sinking a three to make it 74–70, the closest score in the second half. It was not enough as a missed three by junior guard Yuta Watanabe and a made free throw by Richmond closed out the night.

“We are going to play [Richmond] again. I sat and let them listen to Richmond [celebrate] through the walls. I didn’t say anything for about three minutes,” Joseph said. “I want them to understand that we are going to have another crack at them in their gym. I want them to understand we can’t come out lackadaisical, we can’t blame it on the early start of the game, you can’t blame it on any of those things.”

The Colonials will kick off a two-game road trip Wednesday at VCU. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017 12:28 p.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball at Dayton

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Marty Fenn.

What: Women’s Basketball (10-5, 3-0 A-10) at Dayton (8-7, 2-1 A-10)

When: Sunday, January 8 at 3 p.m. EST

Where: UD Arena, Dayton, Ohio

The Colonials have won three straight and are looking to remain undefeated in conference play as they travel to Dayton to take on the Flyers in a high-powered matchup.

The case for the Colonials

GW has held its last two opponents to under 50 points, pummeling Duquesne 75–40 before grinding out a 53-44 victory over Saint Joseph’s at the Smith Center. The Colonials’ staunch defensive efforts are a huge plus as they get set to face the Flyers, who rank second in the Atlantic 10 in scoring with 66.9 points per game.

Perhaps the best sign for the Colonials has been the phenomenal play of graduate senior forward Lexi Martins, who has posted consecutive double-doubles after a 17 point, 11 rebound performance against the Hawks on Wednesday. Martins’ growing scoring presence will force opponents to respect her in the paint and from the perimeter, opening up the floor more for senior forward Caira Washington, who has been the subject of double teams all season.

Dayton has struggled to control the ball, averaging over 16 turnovers per game. This bodes extremely well for the Colonials, who have forced 36 takeaways in the last two games. The versatility of the wing players like seniors Hannah Schaible and Shannon Cranshaw and junior Brianna Cummings has allowed coach Jennifer Rizzotti to work in both big and small lineups, and give the bigs like Washington a breather when needed.

Rizzotti remarked after the Duquesne contest that her players were “fired up” to begin conference play, and the Colonials’ performance in the last two games suggest they are not going to simply give games away. The ability of Martins and Prange to stretch the floor and bring 6-foot-5-inch Dayton forward Saicha Grant-Allen out of the paint will open up possibilities for the Colonials. Expect them to take advantage.

The case for the Flyers

After a rough start to their 2016-2017 campaign, Dayton has rebounded nicely. The Flyers responded to a 3-6 start by winning five of their next six games, including a blowout win over a good Texas A&M team and a thrilling 62-60 nail-biter against St. Bonaventure on Wednesday.

The Flyers can put the ball in the hoop, and have an interesting assortment of weapons. Guard Jenna Burdette was named first team all-conference, and is the Flyers’ leading scorer with 12.5 points per game. Burdette can also distribute the rock and get into the paint, while also being able to knock down the three ball. Backcourt mate Kelley Austria also offers a weapon from beyond the arc, and the Flyers will need to knock down their perimeter shots to have a chance at defeating the Colonials.

The X-factor for Dayton, however, may be Grant-Allen. The 6-foot-5-inch forward was dominant for the Flyers in last year’s matchup… at least for a quarter. Grant-Allen scored six point and had four rebounds early, but foul trouble hampered her for the rest of the game, and the Colonials capitalized on her absence.

Grant-Allen averages 9.8 points 7.2 rebounds per game, but she only plays 26.3 minutes per contest. The Flyers will need her on the floor more, as her presence in the paint could do wonders in opening up the floor for Burdette to create.

The Bottom Line

Dayton has recovered nicely from their sore start, but GW is playing great basketball, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. If Martins continues to find ways to score and the guards control the turnover battle, GW should have enough to come out of Dayton with a win.

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