This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.
The return of “snowpocalypse” to D.C. Friday wasn’t going to keep Megan Nipe’s family away.
Both her parents and a close friend had to “jump through hoops” to get from Minneapolis to Foggy Bottom, but by the 9 p.m. tip off, they were all in the Smith Center stands.
Along with 502 other fans there to support GW in the annual Play 4Kay game to increase breast cancer awareness.
Though it started out ugly, Nipe wouldn’t disappoint. A game-high 19 points on 5-9 shooting from behind the arc in just 22 minutes of play. Led by the guard, the Colonials would grab the victory over visiting VCU, 80-62.
With 12 minutes to go in the first half, though, the Colonials were down 21-13. In fact, it was Nipe’s first moments of the game in which her team fell behind. She fouled a shooter right away, gave up a three, turned the ball over and missed a three-pointer of her own all in two-and-a-half minutes of play.
But then, Nipe found that spark again.
“She didn’t let it affect her on the other end of the floor,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “I want her to keep shooting. That’s her job and she knows it. That’s what her teammates expect. They look to find her.”
Down went a three, then another. And with that went the Colonial Army, accompanied by men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan, jumping up and down as the the team climbed within two points.
“I was determined not to make it like my last game. And when you knock down threes, it gets your own confidence going, but it gets the crowd into it and everybody gets into it. The bench gets into it more, we get more hyped up and you can see the whole game we were just running back and forth. And I think once everyone’s into it it’s hard to stop us,” Nipe said.
With 9:55 to play in the first, GW had gone up by two. Then Nipe hit another trey, getting an unexpected pass in transition from sophomore Jonquel Jones, who had an open lane for a layup.
Cooling down a bit on offense as the game went on, the graduate student’s bench leadership and defensive intensity remained a big part of the eventual win.
Up against the Atlantic 10’s leading scorer and rebounder, VCU senior Robyn Parks, the GW defense would prevent Parks from registering a single field goal until the 8:53 mark in the second half.
Tsipis accredited Nipe as a major part of that, as she often had to switch on screens to take on Parks, limiting the damage the forward could do. Nipe’s biggest leap, Tsipis added, since returning from injury, has been understanding how to make defensive contributions for her team.
“She’s able to explain things to Jonquel and Caira [Washington] on the floor as we’re going, just from her experience,” Tsipis said. “And that’s the part of the leadership that we’ve charged her with and I think that part, as you’ve seen her come back, is two and three fold. She knows that’s a great way to she can help our team.”