Your Guide to GW sports

VCU sophomore Mo Alie-Cox steals the ball from GW's Kethan Savage in the second half of the game at the Siegel Center on Tuesday night. The Colonials fell to the Rams 48-72. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

VCU sophomore Mo Alie-Cox steals the ball from GW’s Kethan Savage in the second half of the game at the Siegel Center on Tuesday night. The Colonials fell to the Rams 48-72. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

The 60th consecutive sold-out crowd at the Siegel Center erupted with just under 13 minutes to play in the second half when VCU sophomore guard Mo Alie-Cox stole a pass and threw down a dunk to put his team up by 16.

The Rams were in the middle of an 11-0 run that would catapult them to an 18-point lead over the Colonials, who were only trailing by four a few minutes earlier.

Despite a strong GW start, No. 14 VCU (17-3, 7-0 Atlantic 10) would shoot 48.6 percent from the field in the second half to go on to secure a dominant 72-48 win over the Colonials (16-5, 6-2) Tuesday night in Richmond.

“I thought we played awful,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “But give VCU a lot of credit. Their defense had a lot to do with it, but we didn’t share the ball, we took bad shots, we missed good shots, and a lot of our turnovers weren’t even the defense as much as just being undisciplined.”

Despite a game-high 18 points from junior guard Kethan Savage, the Colonials would finish the night shooting just 26.9 percent from the field after going an anemic 19.2 percent in the second half, their worst mark in a half this season.

GW would also end the game with 16 turnovers to VCU’s eight, but the real effect of head coach Shaka Smart’s “havoc” defense was in destroying the Colonials’ passing game. GW tried to run long outlet looks and get up in transition, but managed just three assists on the night.

Junior guards Joe McDonald, Patricio Garino and Savage would combine for 28 points and 17 rebounds, with junior forward Kevin Larsen adding a game-high nine boards. But GW would not get much else offensively, and the Colonials’ defense that ranked 30th in the nation in points allowed entering Tuesday’s contest couldn’t keep them in the game.

Junior Joe McDonald jumps for the basket over against VCU on Tuesday night. McDonald shot 2 for 9 from the field as the Colonials fell 48-72 by the Rams. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Junior Joe McDonald jumps for the basket against VCU on Tuesday night. McDonald shot 2 for 9 from the field as the Colonials fell 48-72 by the Rams. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

“I just thought we weren’t committed to playing team defense,” Lonergan said. “When some of our guys aren’t scoring, it really affects our defense in a negative way. We’ve got to figure out a way to change that.”

Three Rams players – including freshman guard Terry Larrier with a team-leading 15 points – would score in double figures as VCU would go 41.9 percent from the field on the night. Although GW came into the contest with the best rebounding margin in the A-10, four VCU players would collect seven rebounds or more, en route to a 47-36 rebounding edge on the glass.

“[Being out-rebounded had to do with] effort and us not boxing out,” Lonergan said. “They just manhandled us on the glass, and we stood around a lot. I didn’t expect us to get out-rebounded by 11.”

On the Rams’ first drive, Garino was able to get a steal and take it all the way down for the game’s first bucket. The Colonials seemed to be rolling in the first few minutes, moving the ball efficiently to find open looks, and jumped to an early 7-2 lead on the road.

But VCU stuck to its game plan and began to frustrate GW offensively. They Colonials would finish the half shooting 34.6 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from three. They would be out-rebounded 20-16 in the first half despite junior forward Kevin Larsen’s team-high six boards.

The Rams would also close out the half shooting 34.6 percent from the field behind Larrier, who led the half with 11 points, but added three from deep while forcing eight GW turnovers to head into the break up 29-21.

“We put in some rules, no behind the back dribbles, no spin moves … but you know the game comes and we played right into their hands,” Lonergan said. “When they get a breakaway dunk or lay up, it gives the crowd a lot of energy. It’s intimidating, but I just thought we lacked energy. They took it from us, but we never really got back in it.”

The Colonials never had a chance to get into a rhythm in the second half, during which they made just five field goals. While nearly every player for GW was struggling to score – even Savage’s point total was bolstered by a 9-9 mark at the free-throw line – VCU’s reserves were rolling, outscoring GW’s bench 38-7.

Following a win over Duquesne in which they hit a season-high 12 three-pointers, the Colonials would go just one for 17 from three-point range on the night while VCU would hit five of 22.

The Colonials will look to turn things around Saturday when they take on Rhode Island on the road at 4 p.m.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rob Bartnichak.

Women’s basketball junior Jonquel Jones was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week for the fourth consecutive time and sixth this season, the league announced Monday.

Jones recorded a double-double in each of GW’s wins over Duquesne and La Salle. She averaged 17 points, 16.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks, all team-highs. Jones has recorded a double-double in seven consecutive games and leads the league with 12 overall.

Jones is the only player in the conference averaging a double-double. Her 12.2 rebounds per game leads the A-10 and is good for fourth in the nation, while her 15.9 points per game rank fifth in the conference. She is first in the A-10 with 4.4 offensive rebounds per game and third with a .518 shooting percentage and 1.8 blocks per game.

She is the first Colonial ever to be given the award five or more times in a season. Jones has now won seven awards in her career, the most for a Colonial since Cathy Joens won nine from 1999-2004. She is the most decorated active player in the conference.

Women’s basketball returns to action on Saturday to face George Mason on the road at 1 p.m.

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Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015 12:21 a.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball vs. VCU

What: GW (16-4, 6-1 A-10) vs. VCU (16-3, 6-0 A-10)

Where: Verizon Wireless Arena at the Siegel Center, Richmond, Va. (CBSSN)

When: Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.

The Colonials roll into Richmond hot off their fourth consecutive win and having won 10 of their last 11. Things aren’t getting any easier, though, as they take on No. 14 and unanimous preseason Atlantic 10 favorite VCU in the first of two meetings this season between the DMV-area squads.

Despite its strong four-game stretch, GW’s momentum may be halted in arguably its toughest game of its conference schedule. Only No. 2 Virginia has been able to best Shaka Smart’s “Havoc” defense in the Siegel Center this season, where the Colonials will battle a relentless press all game.

Last year the teams split a home and home series before VCU knocked GW out in the second round of the A-10 tournament, winning 74-55. VCU is favored tomorrow, but the Colonials are 1-1 against ranked opponents this season and will be fighting for first place in the A-10.

The Case for VCU:

The Rams’ unique, aggressive style of play will frustrate the Colonials on both ends of the court. VCU senior guard Briante Weber drives this style of play and is ranked first in the nation in steals, averaging 3.89 per game. Junior guard Patricio Garino is averaging a team-high 2.0 steals per game and often matches up against a team’s best player, but Weber will be a handful.

Weber is accompanied by the offensive talent of senior Treveon Graham, the third-highest scorer in the A-10 with 17.3 points per game and junior Melvin Johnson who is averaging 13.4 points per game, 12th-best in the A-10 just behind Garino.

VCU’s offense is also ranked 37th in the nation averaging 75.1 points per game, compared to the Colonials’ 127th best 69.5.

“Weber is probably the best defensive player I’ve ever seen in college… he’s the perfect guy for that defense,” GW head coach Mike Lonergan said on SportsTalk 570 this morning. “They have a good system, their defense is incredible, and I feel like they just have so much talent that it’s really difficult to beat them.”

The Case for GW:

One area in which GW does hold an edge over the Rams is rebounding. Currently posting an A-10 best +5.5 rebounding margin to the Rams’ -2.2, and averaging 37.2 rebounds per game to VCU’s 34.8, strong board play, especially from GW big men like forwards Kevin Larsen and John Kopriva, may be key.

Despite the Rams’ notorious defensive schemes, the Colonials defense ranks significantly higher in points allowed per game. Sitting at 30th in the nation, ceding just 59.4 points per game, while VCU’s 65.9 allowed per game puts them at 173rd, GW may have a shot at shutting down a high-powered Rams offense.

In close games between evenly matched teams the game may also be decided at the free throw line, which is good news for the Colonials. VCU is averaging the second-worst free throw shooting percentage in the A-10 at 62.8 percent, compared to GW’s sixth-best 68.6 percent.

A quick start on the road is also essential, but the Colonials could pull off the upset and if they can avoid turnovers, remain solid defensively and dominate the glass.

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Junior Jonquel Jones receives the ball outside the paint in GW's last home game against Duquesne. Jones contributed a game-high 16 rebounds in GW's 67-48 win over La Salle on Saturday. The Colonials tallied 63 boards in the game, the most since 2008. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor.

Junior Jonquel Jones receives the ball outside the paint in GW’s last home game against Duquesne. Jones contributed a game-high 16 rebounds in GW’s 67-48 win over La Salle on Saturday. The Colonials tallied 63 boards in the game, the most since 2008. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Alex Kist.

Despite shooting just 27.5 percent from the field, the Colonials’ defense was able to create turnovers and dominate the glass to help earn GW a 67-48 victory at La Salle on Saturday afternoon.

Junior forward Jonquel Jones notched her seventh double-double of the season with a team-high 12 points and 16 rebounds, followed closely by freshman Kelli Prange, who added 11 points and eight rebounds.

Although La Salle was physical down low early in the first half, GW was patient and regained its footing in the paint to lead by as much as 20 points in the second. After a three from freshman Mia Farmer closed out the game, the Colonials had secured their 16th consecutive win.

“[La Salle] wasn’t really doing anything special. I just felt like our shots weren’t dropping,” Jones said. “The shots that we took in the first half were the same shots that we always take, so we needed to rely on our defense.”

To open the first frame, GW ran a man defense to test La Salle’s speed. The Explorers started with a strong tempo and were within a possession six minutes into the game, but were not able to compete against the Colonials’ pressure on defense. GW finished with 14 steals and an obscene 63 rebounds, the most in a game since 2008, with the frontcourt of Jones, sophomore Caira Washington and Prange leading the pack with a combined 32 boards.

Even when shots were not falling in the their favor, the Colonials made sure they got extra chances. The Explorers struggled to get set in the half court without coughing up the ball, which helped GW accumulate 18 points off turnovers.

“I think we had a really good awareness in the press and in the half-court defense, [we knew] where our help had to come from,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “People really understood their assignments.”

Eventually the ball did start to roll for the Colonials. As La Salle’s posts failed to be alert and ready to receive the ball, the Colonials were able to capitalize on the Explorers’ turnovers and close out the half up 35-20. The Explorers finished the game with 24 giveaways after averaging only 15 per game on the season. They had 17 at halftime.

During the break, Tsipis told his team to concentrate on getting more offensive rebounds to attain second-chance points, as his team did not execute in transition the way that he wanted them to in the first.

The Colonials listened, coming out of the break with a full-court press. Riding the momentum, back-to-back makes by Jones and sophomore guard Shannon Cranshaw forced La Salle to call a timeout with GW up by 19.

Despite being 2-8 on the season when they are trailing at the half, the Explorers began gaining momentum with three-point shooting in the second and were able close the gap to 41-31. But La Salle’s drive was short lived as players began rushing their opportunities to ultimately shoot just 25.8 percent after halftime.

A few plays later, GW’s posts spread the floor, allowing freshman guard Brianna Cummings to drive the lane. She was fouled on the way in, knocked down two shots from the line and propelled GW back to a strong, 47-31 advantage that kept growing.

With a week of practice before GW’s next contest, Tsipis said his team will work on meshing offensive execution with perimeter defense and rebounding to prepare for the upcoming schedule.

“You only get one bye during the A-10 season, and I think we spend time during the first part of the week on conditioning and getting lifts in, but its just as important that we get a mental break,” Tsipis said.

The Colonials will return to action Saturday to take on George Mason in Fairfax, Va. at 2 p.m.

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Rising up, Junior Kethan Savage shoots his first three pointer of the afternoon. Savage was 3 out of 4 from behind the arc. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Rising up, Junior Kethan Savage shoots his first three pointer of the afternoon. Savage was 3 out of 4 from behind the arc. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

It was 41 degrees and cloudy Saturday afternoon in the District, with light showers, winds from the southwest, and torrential downpour 3-pointers in the Smith Center.

The Colonials rained down 12 threes in a Homecoming beatdown of Duquesne on their way to a 74-59 victory.

Patricio Garino scored a game-high 20 points, Joe McDonald added 16, rookie Paul Jorgensen added a career-high 13 and Kethan Savage had a career-high eight of GW’s 17 assists on a night when guard play did it all for GW.

“We knew we would get open shots around the wings, but we also just talked about not settling,” McDonald said. “Kethan did a great job shooting the ball.”

GW hit four assisted 3-pointers to open the game. McDonald found Savage for the first, then Savage returned the favor twice, then McDonald stayed in the giving spirit with a dish to Nick Griffin who also hit for three.

Then Griffin put the Colonials up 15-9 with their fifth consecutive triple, this time doing it all by himself.

“They were going to pack it in which they did,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “Kethan and Joe shot well and they gave us open shots. We’ve been shooting better lately but you’re at home and you’ve got wide open threes and you’ve got to knock it down. We made more than I expected.”

Duquesne set in its two-three zone, and the Colonials, finding it unnecessary to bother trying to penetrate it, went up 18-9 with their sixth three in a row, this time from Jorgensen.

Jorgensen, for variety’s sake if nothing else, hit a reverse layup on the next possession after GW got numbers up ahead off a steal by Savage. Despite scoring just 24 of their points in the paint on a night when Kevin Larsen and John Kopriva scored a combined four points, GW shot 48.1 percent for the game while Duquense shot 44 percent.

Still, the first half was a defensive beatdown above all. GW doubled-up Duquesne 40-18 in the first half where they took 60 percent of the shot attempts.

“We played really good man-to-man defense. Patricio is a terrific defender. We put Joe on [Derrick] Colter and we put Kethan on [Micah] Mason, and then we put Patricio to be able to help off, usually he guards the best player but today I wanted him to be able to be our help guy so we made them take some bad shots, some contested shots,” Lonergan said.

The second half began just like the first, a top-of-the-key three by McDonald, followed up by a McDonald-assisted three from Savage.

But the rest of the second half wasn’t as dominant, though it didn’t matter as GW enjoyed a 36 point lead

Freshman Paul Jorgensen celebrates a 3-pointer in the Colonials win against Duquesne on Saturday. Dan Rich | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Freshman Paul Jorgensen celebrates a 3-pointer in the Colonials win against Duquesne on Saturday. Dan Rich | Hatchet Staff Photographer

with 13 minutes to go, the Colonials were outscored 41-34 and held without a field goal for nearly eight minutes.

“It was disappointing at the end but I told them in the locker room, that’s why some of the guys don’t play a lot,” Lonergan said. “Five years ago I would have left here in a bad mood but I get the bigger picture now.”

Colter found some looks against the man-defense to score nine of his 12 points in the second half. He was the only player for the Dukes to finish in double figures, though he got some help from the Duquesne bench that outscored GW’s reserves 30-25.

Sixth man Yuta Watanabe checked in at the first changing of the guard for Lonergan, the familiar “Yu-ta, Yu-ta, Yu-ta” resonating in the Smith Center with some extra emphasis after Watanabe sprained his ankle in GW’s last game against Fordham. Watanabe was limited to 15 minutes and three points and Lonergan said that he wasn’t 100 percent for the game.

But without Watanabe, the energetic Jorgensen had a breakout game. He broke the scoring drought with a layup with 2:10 remaining, and forty seconds later he was joined on the court by fellow rookies Darian Bryant, Matt Cimino and Anthony Swan and junior Ryan McCoy to close out the game. Duquesne had finally reached the fifty-point mark, but the faint smell of Red Auerbach’s cigar smoke seemed to have joined the Homecoming crowd in the Smith Center, where the Colonials have an unblemished record this season.

“I think we’ve played more focused now, we’ve focused on defense and we’re obviously making more shots. Our confidence is up.,” Garino said. “Away I think we’ve stayed a little more calm and used the experience we had to win the games.”

Momentum, experience and anything else will be welcome for the Colonials as they head on the road Tuesday for a 7 p.m. matchup at No. 16 VCU.

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Senior Joe Lipworth charges down his lane during the men's 100-yard butterfly. Francis Rivera | Senior Staff Photographer

Senior Joe Lipworth charges down his lane during the men’s 100-yard butterfly. Francis Rivera | Senior Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Peter Hoegler.

The score was not an indicator of how dominant George Washington Swimming was on Friday night.

Both men’s and women’s swimming teams hope won handily, failing to relinquish a single first, second, or third finish to visiting foe Howard University. The officials stopped awarding GW place points with eleven events remaining. In the end, the men’s finished with a 92-79 victory while the women’s finished with a 86-72 win.

“Each meet is a stepping stone for our end result,” men’s head coach Dan Rhinehart said. “This sets us up to be in a really good place.”

After dropping two dual meets to Georgetown and Atlantic 10 opponent Davidson last weekend, GW came out off the blocks with some fire by sweeping the 200-yard medley relay. The first few races set the tone for the rest of the meet and the Colonials never looked back.

Senior Morgan Zebley swam first place times in all three of her events, winning the 100-yard freestyle in 54.20, the 200-yard medley relay with juniors Maggie Hofstadter and Lauren Steagall and sophomore Carly Whitmer and the 200-free relay with the senior squad of Janica Lee, Brittany Liedholm and Bianca Valencia.

Whitmer had another first place finish in the 200-individual medley with a time of 2:15.18 and Lee topped the 200-free in 1:58.14, while freshman Hannah Kopydlowski won the 50-free in 24.83 and the 100-backstroke in 1:01.36.

The results kept coming with junior Madison Reinker’s win in the 1000-free, finishing in 10:43.50, Valencia’s time of 58.53 to win the 100-butterfly, freshman Abigail Fusco’s first place in the 500-free at 5:16.36 and sophomore Lauren Law’s win in the 100-breast at 1:10.35.

Senior Goran Koprivnjak has been the leading force of the men’s team, consistently placing in the top five against top opponents. On the women’s side, Whitmer and Lee have already been the leaders in the pool. But in Friday’s meet, underrated swimmers such as Adam Drury, Ben Fitch and Bogdan Balteanu were able to showcase their talent for the men.

Koprivnjak still tallied two first place finishes, one in the 50-free with a time of 21.71 and one in the 200-free relay at 1:30.53 along with Baltenau, freshman Jarvus Pennington and Drury.

Baltenau was part of a second winning relay team in the 200-medley relay along with sophomore Ryan O’Malley, senior Oliver Keegan and freshman Aneil Srivastava in 1:39.54.

Fitch won the 100-free with a 48.78 and classmate Liam Huffman won both the 500- and 100- free in 4:42.29 and 9:51.13 in the longer distances. Freshman Connor Hart took the 200-free with a 1:46.67, while freshman Gustav Hokfelt had perhaps the most impressive day for a rookie with top placement in the 100-butterfly and 100-backstroke with times of 54.77 and 53.76, respectively.

Senior Adam Rabe also had a two-win day with first place in the 200-yard individual medley in 2:00.28 and the 100-breaststroke in 59.66.

“Since this is our second to last meet until Conference, which is a month away, we have to stay sharp and keep momentum going into A-10s,” Balteanu said. “We still have things to work on, and every meet gives us an opportunity to do that.”

Both men’s and women’s swimming teams takes on George Mason next Saturday on senior day before turning full focus to the championships which begin Feb. 18.

“A win like this helps get us prepared and mentally for A-10’s,” Rhinehart said. “We will have a challenge against George Mason.”

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Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 9:35 p.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball vs. Duquesne

Junior Joe McDonald receives the ball in GW's last home game, a win over George Mason. The Colonials have improved their assist totals lately, which should help against selfless Duquesne, the A-10's second best team by assist totals. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor.

Junior Joe McDonald receives the ball in GW’s last home game, a win over George Mason. The Colonials have improved their assist totals lately, which should help against selfless Duquesne, the A-10′s second best team by assist totals. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor.

What: GW (15-4, 5-1 A-10) vs. Duquesne (6-11, 1-5 A-10)
Where: The Smith Center
When: Saturday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m.

While fans coming for Homecoming or the Greek basketball game may have Saturday’s game against Duquesne circled on their calendars, some eyes are already drifting to Tuesday’s matchup at No. 16 VCU.

But no conference game should be overlooked, and before the Colonials head to the house of havoc Tuesday they’ll have to knock off the visiting Dukes to avoid a second Atlantic 10 loss.

GW should be able to put up points for the second straight game against a porous defense as they go for their best start to the A-10 season in eight years.

The Case for Duquesne:

The Dukes haven’t been able to stop anyone this season, but at least they won’t have to stop everyone on GW’s roster if rookie sixth man Yuta Watanabe doesn’t play Saturday. Watanabe went down early in GW’s Thursday night rout of Fordham and didn’t return. Lonergan described his injury as a sprained ankle.

Duquesne’s defense is bad, but strong defenses haven’t been the Dukes’ kryptonite either. They’ve had narrow losses to teams like VCU and Rhode Island while offensive-minded teams, unlike GW, have given them more trouble.

That’s probably because Duquesne can be a lot to keep up with. The Dukes have topped 100 points twice (once in double-overtime) and are averaging 72.5 points per game. They shoot .382 on 3-pointers thanks to the performances of guards Micah Mason and Derrick Colter, who rank fourth and fifth in the league in made threes and are averaging 11.0 and 12.8 points per game, respectively.

And sharing is caring, at least according to Duquesne. They’re second-best in the conference with 15 assists per game, while GW clocks in second from the bottom with 11.3.

The Case for GW:

Coming into the game off a 20-point road win at Fordham, this is a good opportunity for the Colonials to keep rolling on offense. GW’s rhythm had looked off at times, but was clicking with 79 points and 15 assists against the Rams.

It’s rare that GW needs to score upwards of 70 points to win, but it’s par for the course for Duquesne’s league-worst scoring defense to give up that many. Opponents are scoring 72.5 points per game against the Dukes.

A big scoring night would likely thrill a crowd that should fill the Smith Center to the gills, giving GW”s already-strong home-court advantage an extra punch. The Colonials are on a 10-game home winning streak while the Dukes have lost five straight road games.

This one might not be close, but if it is, the Colonials will have the added benefit of an opponent making less than 60 percent of its free throws, last in the A-10 at .585. GW has had its share of struggles from the stripe, but is in the upper half of the A-10 with a .687 percentage this season.

A win would be a good omen, though. The Colonials haven’t opened an A-10 season 6-1 since the 2006-07 season, the last year GW won the A-10 Championship title.

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Senior John Kopriva scored 19 points, tying a career-high, to lead the Colonials in a 79-59 rout of Fordham. Mark Eisenhauer | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior John Kopriva scored 19 points, tying a career-high, to lead the Colonials in a 79-59 rout of Fordham. Mark Eisenhauer | Hatchet Staff Photographer

BRONX, N.Y.– Senior forward John Kopriva isn’t known for putting up big numbers.

But at Fordham on Thursday night, the Colonials’ captain racked up a career-high, game-leading 19 points, adding three rebounds and two blocks to help propel his team to a 79-59 victory on the road.

“The ball was going in the basket,” Kopriva said. “I was able to do a post move, that was my first bucket, and that always helps you get going and get a basket by the rim. And from there, I was just able to get some good looks.”

But Kopriva was only one of many who ran up the scoreboard. All five GW starters, including juniors Patricio Garino, Joe McDonald, Kethan Savage and Kevin Larsen, would finish the night in double figures.

Garino followed Kopriva with 16 points and co-led the Colonials in rebounds with eight, as Larsen would put up the same number while adding 11 points and three assists of his own.

“[When John is scoring], it takes the defense away from us,” Garino said. “And I think having five players that can score at the same time on the court is very hard to guard, so it helps everybody.”

Despite playing in front of a raucous Bronx crowd celebrating the 90th birthday of Rose Hill Gymnasium, the oldest gym in Division I basketball, GW came out with intensity early and put the Rams in an 8-0 hole in the first three minutes of the game. The start stood in stark contrast to GW’s last game at Rose Hill, a narrow win in which the Colonials looked sleepy and out of sync.

“Last year, we came out here and lacked energy from the beginning and were fortunate to get out of here with a win, so we were really focused on this game, and I thought our guys did a great job getting off to a good start,” head coach Mike Lonergan said.

In the first half, it seemed like every Colonials’ shot was falling. Led by Garino’s 11 points before halftime, the team went a whopping 70.8 percent from the field in the opening frame to the Rams’ 37.9.

GW also went 3-6 from beyond the arc in the first half, while adding 15 rebounds to take a 41-27 lead at halftime.

One of the few tense moments for the substantial visiting crowd was when freshman Yuta Watanabe fell awkwardly on his right ankle about halfway through the first half. Watanabe did not return to the game, totaling just nine minutes on the night. Lonergan described the injury as a sprained ankle.

Absent their sixth man for the rest of the game, GW’s bench was outscored 8-20, mostly due to the resurgent performance of sophomore Jon Severe, who scored 12 points for the Rams. Severe was an A-10 All-Rookie selection last year, when he averaged more than 17 points per game, but took a month-long leave of absence from the team this season and was averaging just 2.7 points entering the game.

The Colonials’ hot shooting cooled off in the second half, as the team went just 41.7 percent from the field in the frame, but the already sizable lead and 22 second-half rebounds allowed GW to pull away with the 20-point victory.

GW would finish the night outshooting the Rams 56.3 percent to 36.1 and out-rebounding Fordham 37-30. The Colonials were able to post 15 assists to their opponent’s 11, a statistic they have struggled with this season.

“We want to be consistent, and we haven’t shared the ball … We’re second to last in assists in our conference, and we focused on that tonight,” Lonergan said. “I know Patricio had two assists in the first two minutes of the game, and we got our assists up today.”

The Colonials return to the Smith Center on Saturday to take on Duquesne at 2 p.m.

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Senior guard Lauren Chase was part of a core group of perimeter defenders that held Duquesne to its lowest shooting percentage on 3-pointers since the A-10 tournament last year. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor.

Senior guard Lauren Chase was part of a core group of perimeter defenders that held Duquesne to its lowest shooting percentage on 3-pointers since the A-10 tournament last year. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

The leading scorer for the Dukes sank a 3-pointer from the top of key, draining it over the outstretched hand of Jonquel Jones.

Nothing too out of the norm for Duquesne – the Atlantic 10’s top 3-point shooting team – but it was anything but the usual Wednesday night in the Smith Center as the Colonials locked down.

“We turned it up another level today,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said of his defense.

Star guard April Robinson made her team’s first trey of the game with 5:30 to play, down 70-44. The Colonials, now ranked nationally at No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, were well on their way to their 15th straight win. Robinson hit one more in the final minutes, irrelevant in the 83-56 blowout.

The Dukes finished 2-13 from behind the line, good for 15.4 percent. Heading into the game, Duquesne was first in the conference with a 36.3 3-point field goal percentage, second in scoring offense at 74.9 points per game and near the top of many of the league’s rebounding and assists numbers. An all around good offensive team.

Their problem? They ran into a GW team that is not only tied for first with the Duke Blue Devils for the best rebounding margin in the nation, but a Colonials crew that put some defensive lapses on the road behind them and turned them into critical points at home.

Before heading out on a two-game road trip to Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Tsipis had a long talk with his players about where they were in the league defensively. But in truth it was the Colonials offense that was showcased on the trip and the team leaned on scoring potency instead of stopping their opposition.

That changed back in the Smith Center, as depth and speed caused trouble for Duquesne in the Smith Center. Guards like sophomores Hannah Schaible and Shannon Cranshaw, senior Chakecia Miller and senior Lauren Chase helped extend the GW defense. The Dukes attempted seven threes in the first half, but rarely with an open look.

“All of a sudden to know, we have the depth right now where we can play people for three and a half to four minute spurts and they can play as hard as possible and as locked in, and we’re going to get them a break,” Tsipis said. “And to be able to do that on the defensive end and then the ability to get out and run in transition.”

Schaible credited “intelligent play,” and an in depth scouting report from assistant coach Bill Ferrara shaped a diligent defense.

“Whether it’s a shooter or a driver, we were set and basically knew what we had to do to keep them at bay and win the game,” Jones said, who finished with 22 points, 17 rebounds and two blocks.

Every player on the court for Duquesne had an individual scouting report, one that prompted players to go under the screen on some ball screens and over on others, like with Robinson.

“We focused a lot on chasing them off the 3-point line so that they can’t even get those shots up,” Schaible said.

Chasing was the keyword, one that Tsipis used as well. The man to man defense spread into a full court zone for long stretches in the first half, creating turnovers and forcing shooters into an unnatural spot in the half court. Guards would often extend out to the 3-point line when defending the basket.

The last time Duquesne finished with such a low 3-point field goal percentage was against Fordham last year in the A-10 tournament, hitting 1-11 then. GW has had one of the top 3-point field defenses all season long. They are second in the conference, allowing opponents just a 26 percent accuracy rate on the three.

Though players like Jones get much of the credit for the number in front of GW’s name, all 14 Colonials on the active roster got a piece of the action, able to defend the target now on their back.

“You saw today there was a tremendous amount of pride that we put ourselves in position to be successful,” Tsipis said. “One through 14, they all knew exactly what those kids could do. It’s one thing to know, it’s a second to carry it out.

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Senior Chakecia Miller dribbles past Duqesne's defense Tuesday night. The Colonials squashed the Dukes 83-56, remaining undefeated in conference play. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Senior Chakecia Miller dribbles past Duquesne’s defense Tuesday night. The Colonials squashed the Dukes 83-56, remaining undefeated in conference play. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Alex Kist.

There’s winning, and then there’s what the Colonials did to Duquesne.

GW toppled the Dukes on Wednesday in its first game boasting a number in front of its name after climbing into the USA Today Coach’s poll at No. 24. Junior forward Jonquel Jones’ typically stellar night propelled the Colonials to an 83-56 victory.

Sophomore guard Hannah Schaible said the GW coaching staff scouted the Dukes perfectly. Facing off against the No. 1 three-point shooting team in the Atlantic 10, GW rolled out a relentless perimeter defense to compliment its always-strong rebounding game. The plan started with Duquesne’s star shooter April Robinson, who head coach Jonathan Tsipis said he wanted to give “no room to breathe.”

It worked, as Robinson was held in check with 12 points on 4-13 shooting, and the Colonials allowed only two threes on the night and forced the Dukes into 15 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

“We focused a lot on chasing them off the three-point line so that they can’t even get those shots up,” Schaible said. “If we focus on having so much pressure that they don’t even feel comfortable at getting an open look, then they can’t make them because they have to push them inside.”

GW in turn stepped up its guard play, sinking five threes on 14 attempts to improve on a 0-7 night at the three-point line last time out against Rhode Island.

The ranking could have been baggage, but the Colonials had no letdown in front of the home crowd.

Jones was the leader of the charge, notching an impressive 22 points and 17 rebounds on the night, pacing both teams. She rarely missed, going 9-14 from the field and 4-4 from the free-throw line.

The beatdown was relentless. GW extended its lead to as much 32 points in the second half. While the Dukes scrambled to get out of their shooting slump, GW shot nearly 50 percent from the field and converted 71.4 percent from the charity stripe on the night.

They built up points off turnovers, on second chances and off the fast break. GW had eight fast-break points going into halftime to zero for Duquesne. The guards – particularly Lauren Chase, who was responsible for six of GW’s 16 assists – were able to field the ball accurately into the posts, run coast-to-coast on transition and bring on a deep threat with pressure along the perimeter.

“They have to be in position … if they’re not going to shoot that three, to get that next best shot, if that means it’s from 17 feet,” Tsipis said. “We need them to shoot it because even if they miss, I like our chances to get on the offensive glass.”

Schaible paced the Colonials with four steals, contributing to the team’s total of 13. Coming off her second double-double of the season, Schaible amassed 13 points and one rebound Wednesday night.

For the second time in the match, GW was able to capture a 30-point lead after senior Chakecia Miller drove into the basket for a quick layup that brought the team to a 70-40 advantage. Even with sophomore forward Caira Washington on the bench after accumulating four fouls, the Colonials maintained a confident lead throughout and still out-rebounded Duquesne, though only by one at 40-39.

GW’s bench got in the game during the final minutes. Junior forward DaLacy Anderson hit the final three-pointer, freshman guard Camila Tapias added to the scoreboard with a jumper and freshman forward Mia Farmer knocked down a free throw.

The Colonials now have a number in front of their name and a player in Jones who is having entire game plans designed to stop her. But Tsipis said his mindset hasn’t changed.

“I think the understanding that it’s great for our kids. It’s great for our team. It’s great for our program,” Tsipis said. “I think the biggest part of it, I still go back to what I said when I sat on April 7, 2012 – I want to get better everyday. I told the team at practice yesterday that we had a good practice, I said, ‘Guys, I just want to go 1-0 tomorrow.’ That is the goal.”

GW next heads to Philadelphia to face La Salle on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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