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Your Guide to GW sports

Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 11:13 p.m.

Men’s basketball holds on to defeat Siena

Graduate student Tyler Cavanaugh is double-teamed in GW's win over Siena. Cavanaugh posted 12 points, 6 rebounds and a game-high 5 assists in the two-point victory. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Graduate student Tyler Cavanaugh is double-teamed in GW’s 77-75 win over Siena Tuesday. Cavanaugh posted 12 points, 6 rebounds and a game-high 5 assists in the two-point victory. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

With his team down 69-68 at the Smith Center Tuesday night, Siena senior guard Marquis Wright stumbled to the line with less than two minutes remaining in a tight game.

He missed both of his free throws, squandering a crucial chance at regaining the lead.

Redshirt junior Jaren Sina then found an opening, took the ball to the basket and layed it up. The shot rolled off the rim and into freshman Arnaldo Toro’s hands. The 6-foot-8-inch forwarded converted on a difficult basket and gave the Colonials a three-point edge.

From there, the Colonials (2-0) never looked back, able to hold on for the final minute and defeat the Saints (1-1), 77-75, in the opening matchup of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.

“You don’t always gain all that much from comfortable wins, I think for good or bad your character is going to be revealed in tough situations,” interim head coach Maurice Joesph said. “I think it is a character building win against a good team. I’m proud of our guys.”

Sina led GW with 16 points while junior guard Yuta Watanabe (13), graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh (12) and freshman center Collin Smith (11) all contributed double-digit scoring totals.

After a lackluster opening frame, the second half saw Sina’s best performance thus far this season.

With only 12 minutes remaining in the game and GW trailing by 5, the Seton Hall transfer hit his first shot of the game. Sina would go on to score 10 points and give his team the seven-point lead in a span of just three minutes.

“Jaren as an experienced player came out and recognized some things and understood where he could attack and went on a run of his own there,” Joseph said. “I am proud of our guys and proud of Jaren after a shaky first half.”

Both sides shot solid percentages from the field – GW with 44.3 to Siena’s 44.8 – but the Colonials had the clear advantage on the boards leading 46–20 overall and 16–9 on the offensive glass thanks to a deep and athletic frontcourt.

Cavanaugh played 38 minutes and went body-to-body with Siena’s post players all game. However, after Smith  picked up two fouls in the first three minutes, Joseph was forced to bench him.

Freshman Collin Smith was one of four Colonials to score in double-figures Tuesday. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Freshman Collin Smith was one of four Colonials to score in double-figures Tuesday. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

With slightly increased minute shares, Toro, freshmen forward Kevin Marfo, and graduate student guard Patrick Steeves picked up the slack.

Even sophomore forward Collin Goss was able to find the scoreboard with a career-high four points on 100 percent shooting.

“Toro, Marfo and Collin Goss all played really well. They came in and gave us an unbelievable spark of energy,” Joseph said. “All of those guys did a great job coming in and giving us a spark.”

The entire first half of the game was tight. Neither side shot particularly well in the opening minutes. The Saints started 1-for-8 from the field, missing a couple wide-open shots and allowing the Colonials to take a small lead.

Wright netted 16 points in the first period and highlighted deficiencies in GW’s defense all game long.

There ended up being 8 lead changes before the Colonials eventually took the 34–33 lead at the halftime buzzer.

Along with Sina, GW was able to look for more offensive firepower from Smith in the second half. The first-year center scored all 11 of his points in the latter half and provided a imposing inside presence before fouling out with three minutes left.

After only making 2-of-12 three-point attempts in the first half, the Colonials worked the ball into the paint more often and hit 3-of-7 from distance in the final 20 minutes.

Siena trailed by as many as eight points with 15 minutes on the clock but was able to go on a 17-4 run and quiet the small crowd at the Smith Center.

Despite several contentious moments down the stretch, GW was able to focus, maintain a consistent offense and finish 18-for-23 from the charity stripe.

“They made some tough shots at the end, but we are a young team and we are growing up fast. I think we faced adversity and I think we passed the test,” Sina said. “Every game we are trying to get better, and today I thought we got better.”

GW will return to action on Thursday for its second and final home game of the CBE Classic against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 12:01 p.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball vs. Siena

Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh goes to the rim in last week's season-opener. Cavanaugh and the Colonials search for their second win of the season Tuesday against Siena. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh goes to the rim in last week’s season-opener. Cavanaugh and the Colonials search for their second win of the season Tuesday against Siena. Dan Rich | Photo Editor

What: Men’s basketball (1-0) vs. Siena (1-0) (CBE Hall of Fame Classic)

Where: Smith Center, Washington, D.C.

When: Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.

Coming off a season-opening 75–71 win over Maryland Eastern Shore Friday, the Colonials continue their homestand Tuesday against the Siena Saints.

The contest is GW’s first of four in the 2016 College Basketball Experience Hall of Fame Classic tournament, which culminates with two games in Kansas City, Mo. next week against Georgia and either UAB or No. 7 Kansas.

In its fourth all-time meeting with the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference foe, GW will look to string together consecutive victories for the first time this fall.

Case for the Colonials:

Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh and junior guard Yuta Watanabe combined for 42 points, 16 rebounds and a 19-for-21 clip from the free throw line against UMES. The pair will continue to drive the Colonials’ offense Tuesday but needs more help from fellow starters.

While Siena put up 89 points in a double-digit win over Cornell last week, the Colonials’ defense has the potential to shut down the Saints if they stay focused for a full 40 minutes. GW held the Hawks to just 25 percent shooting in the first half Friday and grabbed 28 defensive rebounds to UMES’ 15.

Twenty turnovers and inconsistent second-half defense kept the season-opener close, but the Colonials did a good job drawing fouls and converting at the line – something that could also be crucial against Siena. GW’s 85.3 free throw percentage (29-for-34) currently ranks 10th-best in the nation.

Case for the Saints:  

After a 21-13 overall in 2015-2016, Siena was picked to finish second in the MAAC this year behind Monmouth, who GW defeated in the second round of the 2016 National Invitation Tournament.

The Saints’ high-powered offense is led by senior guard Marquis Wright and senior forward Brett Bisping. Wright was named MAAC Player of the Week Sunday after netting 31 points against Cornell, and will be tough to contain at the Smith Center.

Siena also shot well from three-point range against the Big Red (11-for-29) and racked up seven total steals. The visitors will need to continue to force turnovers to stifle GW’s offensive momentum.

On the road against the defending NIT Champions, expect the mid-major to throw everything they have at the Colonials to capture an upset win and make a statement an early-season statement in the MAAC.

Bottom Line:

Siena should not be overlooked, but this is GW’s game to lose. The Colonials will have to battle at home, but if they can defend well, minimize turnovers and get a few sturdy offensive performances they should be able to come away with the win.

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Senior guard Hannah Schaible put up 11 points, 9 rebounds and a career-high 5 steals in GW's 56-45 win over Princeton Sunday afternoon.

Senior guard Hannah Schaible put up 11 points, 9 rebounds and a career-high 5 steals in GW’s 56-45 win over Princeton Sunday afternoon. Ethan Stoler | Hatcher Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal.

Thanks to scrappy guard play and a balanced effort on both sides of the ball, women’s basketball picked up its first win of the season under first-year head coach Jennifer Rizzotti Sunday, defeating Princeton at home, 56–45.

GW (1–1) started the game shooting just 2-for-15 from the field, missing all six of their three-point attempts and turning the ball over five times. Princeton’s zone defense stifled the Colonials for the first 15 minutes and neutralized junior forward Kelli Prange and forced senior forward Caira Washington to the bench with two early fouls.

“We anticipated they would play a lot of zone, but it’s always different when you see it for the first time,” Rizzotti said. “I thought our guys really adjusted and made some good passes and got some really good looks at the basket.”

GW’s sloppiness and poor three-point shooting continued to hurt them in in the first five minutes of the second quarter, as the Colonials fell behind 20–12.

Rizzotti turned to guard Hannah Schaible for an offensive spark, and the senior’s hustle and scrappiness provided instant energy. Schaible posted a career-high five steals, drew a charge, and added four assists and five rebounds to help GW recapture a 26–21 lead by closing the half with a 14–1 run.

“When it comes to hustle plays, for me, they’ll always come – I may not always be in the right position, but I’ll find a ball eventually,” Schaible said. “I think that’s big for my own mentality – I get one, and I want to get another one, another one and then another one – that’s kind of what drives me throughout the game.”

Off the bench, graduate transfer forward Lexi Martins played lockdown defense in the first half, recording a career-high three blocks to hold Princeton’s star freshman Bella Alaire to only five points and two turnovers through the first 20 minutes.

“I’m starting to feel a little bit more comfortable, getting used to a faster level of play and playing with different girls,” Martins said. “Hopefully as the season goes on, and practice goes on, I’ll get a little bit more comfortable being out on the floor with them.”

Washington, who returned in the second half after her early foul trouble, was good for two blocks as the Colonials allowed only one basket through the first five minutes of the third quarter. The Colonials stretched the lead to 10, but a quick 8–2 spurt by the Tigers cut the lead back to four, 35–31, with the Colonials offense again looking for answers.

With Schaible needing a breather, Rizzotti turned to her bench. Sophomore Mei-Lyn Bautista and freshman Kendall Bresee, who scored five points off a three-pointer and a strong drive to the rim, helped propel GW to another 10–2 run as the Colonials finished the third quarter strong with a 45–33 lead.

“We really have five guys that could easily start on a lot of different teams, and they’ve accepted that role because they know that they’re important to our success,” Rizzotti said. “To be able to put Kendall [Bresee] in and have her score five quick points and defend and rebound, is a luxury that I have.”

In the fourth quarter, GW had great execution on offense as ball movement helped the team grab an 18-point lead – their largest of the game – before a late 9–1 Tigers run cut it down to 10. But after allowing a fourth quarter comeback on Friday at Georgetown, GW conceded just four field goals and forced five turnovers in the final period to secure the victory.

Rizzotti noted that she was pleased with the Colonials’ defensive intensity on Sunday, as they held the Tigers to 30.4 percent shooting clip and threw several different defensive schemes at a Princeton team that graduated 71 percent of its players last year.

“I’ve been really happy with our defense the last two games,” Rizzotti said. “We’ve been able to go back and forth between man and zone. I think that helps disrupt teams, especially a young team like Princeton that doesn’t have a lot of experience.”

Although she was pleased with her team’s defense, Rizzotti also noted improvements that could be made on the offensive side of the ball.

“Certainly we want to continue to run in transition and get some easy baskets, but we do need to get better at our half-court execution,” Rizzotti said. “I thought for most of the second, third and fourth quarters they looked pretty good, and we got a lot of really good shots.”

Up next for the Colonials are the Coppin State Eagles. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Smith Center.

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Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 11:48 a.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball vs. Princeton

Then-Junior guard Brianna Cummings drives around a defender in a win over Villanova last December. The Colonials will host Princetion Sunday at noon in their 2016-2017 home opener. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Then-junior guard Brianna Cummings drives around a defender in a win over Villanova last December. The Colonials will host Princeton Sunday at noon in their 2016-2017 home opener. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal.

What: Women’s basketball (0-1) vs. Princeton (0-1)

Where: Smith Center, Washington, D.C.

When: Sunday, Nov. 13 at noon

The Colonials will look to bounce back from their season-opening loss to cross-town rival Georgetown when they face a Princeton Tigers squad that finished 23-6 last year and became the first-ever Ivy League team to earn an at-large bid in either the men’s or women’s NCAA Tournament.

The Case for the Colonials:

The Colonials were one of the best rebounding teams in the country last season, placing first in rebounds (48.6) and second in offensive rebounds per game (18). On the other hand, the Tigers graduated four of its top five rebounders from last season’s team, and the Colonials should look to capitalize on the rebounding ability of graduate transfer Lexi Martins and senior center Caira Washington to gain second-chance opportunities.

Washington, who had a strong game in the season opener, will also look to provide an interior scoring punch for the Colonials. Against the Hoyas on Friday, she notched 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the field to go along with 6 rebounds in only 24 minutes of action. Martins, who has 42 career double-doubles, can be a major factor off the bench this season.

Further, home-court advantage for GW figures to be key in this matchup, as the Colonials have won 25 of its last 27 games played at the Charles E. Smith Center, dating back to November 2014. They finished 12-2 at home last season and will look to continue the trend against a Princeton team that was 2-3 on the road in their non-conference slate last year.

With new head coach Jennifer Rizzotti offense in place, GW’s game plan for Sunday going to be an unknown that may play in the Colonials’ favor as Princeton comes off a quick turnaround following a loss to Rider on Friday. This figures to be a close game, but GW may try to slow down the pace and out-execute a young Princeton team.

The Case for the Tigers:

Despite losing a number of key contributors, Princeton was picked to finish second in the Ivy League Preseason Poll. Their sole returning starter, guard Vanessa Smith, averaged 8.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 28 games last season and looks to make a jump in her final year as a Tiger.

Princeton will hope to capitalize on their strong defense as they visit Foggy Bottom for the first time in eight years. This could spell trouble for GW, as they struggled at times in their season opener to find consistent, go-to scoring options behind Caira Washington. The Tigers have been an excellent defensive team under head coach Courtney Banghart, having finished in the top ten nationally in field goal percentage defense each of the past two seasons.

Additionally, the Tigers’ size could be a major factor, despite GW’s depth in the frontcourt. 6-4 freshman forward Bella Alarie shined in Princeton’s season opener against Rider, putting up 24 points and 7 rebounds on 50% shooting from the field and 3-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Her ability to stretch the floor and score from both inside and outside makes her a dangerous weapon and one that the Colonials will have to look out for.

If the Tigers pick up the pace, score off of turnovers and win the battle on the boards, they will make things tough for the Colonials, who allowed 22 points off turnovers in their season opening loss and were outrebounded 44-33 despite holding a size advantage.

Bottom Line:

Although both teams made the NCAA tournament last year, the Tigers graduated 71 percent of its offense last season and return only one starter. Outside of a fourth-quarter collapse, the veteran Colonials looked comfortable on offense and defense in Coach Rizzotti’s new system, and the home team should be able to overcome a younger Princeton team with many new faces.

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Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista drives the ball against a Georgetown opponent during Friday's loss. Bautista scored a team-high 8 first-half points in the game. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista drives the ball against a Georgetown opponent during Friday’s loss. Bautista scored a team-high 8 first-half points in the game. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Barbara Alberts.

In women’s basketball’s first game under head coach Jennifer Rizzotti, the Colonials were plagued with missed free throws and weak rebounding down the stretch, leading to a Hoya victory in their season opener Friday.

After leading the game for 33 minutes, GW gave up 32 points in the fourth quarter to hand the Georgetown its first win of the season in an unexpected 72-57 defeat.  The Colonials were outscored 32-9 by the Hoyas in the final frame.

“Obviously we’re disappointed in the loss tonight,” Rizzotti said.

Senior forward Caira Washington led the Colonials with a team-high 18 points and 6 rebounds in the loss.

GW took an early lead, scoring 15 points in the first 5 minutes of the game to Georgetown’s 5.

They played strong defensively, protected the basket and forced the Hoyas to take three-point shots – the weakest part of their game.

GW’s lead narrowed to 18–14 at the end of the first set after Georgetown picked up 11 points off of Colonials turnovers.  

At halftime, GW led only 32–24, despite shooting 50 percent from the field compared to Georgetown’s 28. Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista had a team-high eight points going into the halftime break.

To start the second half, GW played to its strengths, looking to get the ball inside offensively. Washington scored 8 of the 16 points for the Colonials in the third quarter.  

“Getting the ball up, getting it in transition…doing what we do best, I think that’s what got us our lead,” Bautista said.

Washington, who only saw five minutes of action in the first half, was able to rest on the bench due to the success of graduate student forward Lexi Martins and junior forward Kelly Prange in the paint.

“It is very important, they are great post players and versatile,” Washington said.  “They’re both [veterans] so it’s important for them to step up and be vocal on and off the floor.”

The Colonials offense could not keep up with the Georgetown defense, however, as the Hoyas picked up eight offensive rebounds in the third quarter after grabbing only five in the entire first half.

The game was neck-and-neck heading into the fourth quarter with GW 48–40.

A surge in Colonials’ fouls sent the Hoyas to the free throw line seven times, where they shot 100 percent in the fourth quarter.  GW shot only 50 percent at free throw line on the night.

“I mean, obviously, we need to make our free throws, that’s just a given,” Rizzotti said.  “We got some really good opportunities late and we didn’t capitalize.”

With four minutes remaining in the game, Georgetown senior guard Dorothy Adomako made a lay-up that put her team up 56–55 and began a 18-2 run for the Hoyas, solidifying their victory.

“When we can’t get our defensive rebounds, it really limits our opportunity to run in transition and get those easy baskets,” Rizzotti said.  “I think that’s what happened in those last six minutes of the game.”

Georgetown finished with 17 offensive rebounds, more than double the 7 that the Colonials recorded.  

With tonight’s loss behind them, Rizzotti said she is confident her team will continue to improve as the season goes.

“As I’ve told the team, we need to trust the process and have some patience and make sure we respond well to the adversity,” Rizzotti said.  ““I’m happy with the progress we made as a team.”

Next up, the Colonials will take on Princeton in their home opener on Sunday. Tip off is set for noon.

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Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh scored 24 points and added 10 rebounds in GW's season-opening victory over UMES Friday.

Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh scored 24 points and added 10 rebounds in GW’s season-opening victory over UMES Friday. Dan Rich | Photo Editor.

Updated: Nov. 13, 2016 at 6:15 p.m.

With 16 minutes remaining in men’s basketball’s season-opener Friday, GW led Maryland Eastern Shore by 19 points, coming off two unanswered three-pointers from graduate student Tyler Cavanaugh and redshirt junior Jaren Sina.

However defensive lapses and careless giveaways allowed the Hawks (0-1) to cut their deficit to just three points. But with a stellar night at the line, the Colonials (1-0) held on to open the 2016-2017 campaign with a 75-71 victory.

“I told the guys it’s not always going to be pretty,” interim head coach Maurice Joseph said. “Sometimes we’re going to have to face runs like this and we’re going to have to close out games but it’s character building wins like this I think that go a long way, especially for a young team.”

Cavanaugh finished with a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds to pick up his first double-double of the season in his final collegiate home-opener. Junior guard Yuta Watanabe also had an impressive night, recording 18 points, 6 rebounds and a team-high 2 blocks.

GW shot a solid 42 percent clip from the floor in the game as nine different Colonials were able to find the scoreboard during the matchup.

To start the game off, both defenses came out playing aggressively. The Hawks stretched out 2-3 zone forced a shot clock violation and the Colonials’ energetic man-to-man responded causing two consecutive traveling violations in the first four minutes.

The game remained close, going back and forth, for the majority of the first half. Neither squad led by more than five for the first 17 minutes of the game.

A jump shot from freshman forward Arnaldo Toro and two three-pointers from Cavanaugh broke that streak and gave the Colonials their largest lead of the first half at 13 points.

GW’s defense picked up and held the Hawks to only 25 percent shooting from the floor and seven field goals in the half. The only shot made by the visitors in the last eight minutes of the first half was a fade away three from NBA-range to beat the buzzer.

The Colonials rode that momentum into the second set, they went on an 11-2 run and extended the lead to 19 points early.

Down double-digits, the Hawks slowly started to chip away at the lead. Within minutes they went on a 13-4 run and brought it from a 16-point game all the way down to 7 before GW was able to respond.

Maryland Eastern Shore senior forward Bakari Copeland led his team during that run with 14 second-half points. He finished with 21 points and 5 boards while shooting 3-for-4 from behind the arc.

“We were stellar,” Joseph said. “I thought [our defense] was great up until Bakari Copeland went on his individual run. I thought Carmelo Anthony was out there the way he was jabbing us and shooting jumpers – we couldn’t stop him.”

With six and a half minutes remaining, the Hawks finally found themselves within two possessions, trailing 55–50, after Watanabe threw the ball away and the UMES full-court press took advantage with an easy dunk.

Turning the ball over plagued GW all game. The 20 total turnovers, with 13 coming the second half, limited the Colonials ability to extend their lead.

“We just have to stay with what we are doing, trust the coaches and trust the press break,” Cavanaugh said. “We got a little shaky there, myself included, for a while.”

Good free throw shooting by Cavanaugh and Watanabe, along with baskets from graduate student Patrick Steeves brought the game back to a 12-point Colonials lead with three minutes on the clock.

But the Hawks still weren’t done. Consecutive unforced errors by the Colonials backcourt and their inability to break the press decreased their lead to four points with just over a minute to play.

“We just relaxed,” Cavanaugh said. “We have to continue to never relax until the horn sounds at the end of the game and move forward.”

Watanabe finally dealt the knockout punch as he sunk four of his final six free throws in the final 30 seconds.

GW shot 29-for-34 on the night from the line – a much-improved 85 percent clip compared to the team’s 29-for-46 performance in its exhibition game against Bowie State last weekend.

“When you see other guys making [free throws] it normally is contagious. Yuta did a great job as well, Jaren, Matt, Jair, Toro all 2-for-2,” Cavanaugh said. “That is big, making more free throws than the other team shoots is very important to us.”

The Colonials return to action on Tuesday when they host Siena. The tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“A win is a win,” Cavanaugh said. “We just have to keep building and moving forward. We are a young squad so just keep building on it and get ready for a good Siena team on Tuesday.”

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal.

Three players have signed National Letters of Intent to join the women’s basketball program for the 2017-2018 season, the team announced Thursday.

Guards Lexus Levy and Chyna Latimer, as well as forward Neila Luma, are head coach Jennifer Rizzotti’s first signees as head coach at GW since she replaced Jonathan Tsipis this past April.

Levy, a two-time all-state basketball guard for Seton Catholic Central High School in Binghamton, N.Y., helped lead her girls basketball team to the Class B Section 4 title as a junior. Last year, she was named Class B Player of the Year by the New York State Sportswriters Association, and she was a NYSSA District 4 First Team pick.

The 5-foot-6-inch guard was already committed to play at the University of Hartford, then coached by Rizzotti. When the head coach left for GW in April,  Levy opted to decommit from Hartford and join Rizzotti in Foggy Bottom.

Six-foot guard-forward Chyna Latimer, who according to a release was Rizzotti’s first target this summer, was a Maryland 2A/1A First Team selection as a junior at Patterson Mills High School. The Bel Air, Md. native helped to lead Patterson Mills to two consecutive Maryland 2A State titles in her freshman and sophomore year. She was also a contributor on the Maryland Belles AAU Girls Basketball Team.

Neila Luma is a 6-foot-1-inch forward from Allentown Central Catholic High School in Macungie, Pa. Now attending Bethlehem Catholic High School for her senior season, she averaged 11.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in her final year at Allentown Central.

Luma, a three-star forward, is ranked as the 59th-best forward in the nation by ESPN. Luma was also recruited by Pittsburgh, JMU, UCF, and Fordham, but will arrive at GW with the opportunity to contribute immediately at the forward position next year, when the Colonials will be without current senior Caira Washington and redshirt senior Lexi Martins.

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Bishop Hendricken guard Justin Mazzulla is the first member of the Class of 2021 to commit to the men’s basketball program Wednesday after signing his National Letter of Intent.

“Justin possesses all the great qualities that we seek in our student-athletes both on and off the court and he will make an immediate impact on our program. His size and athleticism at the point guard position will complement our roster and his character will allow him to thrive at GW,” interim head coach Maurice Joseph said in a release. 

The Johnston, R.I. native led his high school team to an Open State Tournament Championship last season, averaging 15.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. He was an All-State selection and was awarded the Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year after his junior campaign.

Mazzulla’s brother, Joe, played basketball for West Virginia from 2006-2011. During his senior season the Mountaineers made it to the NCAA tournament.

The Colonials are set to lose only two players, graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh and redshirt junior Matt Hart, for their 2017-2018 roster. Mazzulla will join a young roster of 11 returning letter-winners and six second year players.

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Junior forward Yuta Watanabe scored a team-high 19 points in GW's 86-80 exhibition win Saturday. The Colonials officially open the season Friday when they play host to Marlyand Eastern Shore. Ethan Stoller | Hatchet Photographer

Junior forward Yuta Watanabe scored a team-high 19 points in GW’s 86-80 exhibition win Saturday. The Colonials officially open the season this Friday when they play host to Marlyand Eastern Shore. Ethan Stoller | Hatchet Photographer

What: Men’s basketball (28-10 in 2015-2016) vs. Maryland Eastern Shore (10-22)

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

When: Friday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m.

Less than one week after an exhibition win over Bowie State, GW officially begins its regular season Friday night in Foggy Bottom.

Men’s basketball will open up its 2016-2017 season against Maryland Eastern Shore, taking on the Hawks for the sixth time in program history (GW leads series 5–0). The Colonials’ clash with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponent will also mark their first official game with new interim head coach Maurice Joseph at the helm.

Here’s what to expect from the game:

Case for the Colonials:

GW is the more deep, experienced and talented team in this matchup. Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who was named to the Lute Olsen Award watch list on Monday, is considered one of the best players in the Atlantic 10 and will likely be the most dominant player on the floor.

Returners junior Yuta Watanabe, redshirt senior Matt Hart, and sophomore Jordan Roland each provide an experienced scoring threat down the lineup, while the Hawks only return one consistent starter from last year’s squad that finished 3–17 on the road.

Friday provides the Colonials an opportunity to work on mistakes made in a tight exhibition last week. GW ended up edging the Bulldogs and outrebounding them considerably, but its Division-II opponent led for 15 minutes and shot a higher percentage.

Redshirt junior guard Jaren Sina struggled in the exhibition, his first time starting at point guard on the Smith Center floor. He shot only 1–5 from the field and picked up four turnovers and only three assists. Against an inexperienced Hawks team however, Sina has a chance to fine-tune his game and improve before the season gets into full swing.

Case for the Hawks:

Maryland Eastern Shore will count on senior forward Bakari Copeland to make an impact on the scoreboard. He is the only player on the roster who was a solid offensive contributor last year after averaging 10.5 points per game while shooting 43 percent.

Copeland has an opportunity to take his 6-foot-6-inch, 235-pound frame up against the young Colonials’ frontcourt. If he is able to control the interior against GW freshmen big-men Colin Smith and Kevin Marfo, it could change the momentum of the game significantly.

This game will also be an early test for the Colonials defensive ability under Joseph. They struggled to stop Bowie State from scoring easy baskets during the first half Saturday and there has yet to be a player step up as the go-to perimeter defender. 

Although the Hawks finished last season with one of the worst defenses for points-against in the MEAC, they average 5.9 steals per game, good enough for sixth-best. It will be difficult for the Colonials to get any kind of lead if they continue turn the ball over like they did against the Bulldogs, racking up ten giveaways in the first half alone and 13 total. 

Bottom line:

All signs point to a GW win in this one, but the same was true of its exhibition which came down to the wire. Now that the games count, the Colonials should be able to find offensive production from Cavanaugh, Watanabe, and others while holding the less experienced Hawks team at bay.

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Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016 8:13 p.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball at Georgetown

Then-senior Shannon Cranshaw drives to the hoop in GW's win against Saint Louis last year. Cranshaw and the Colonials open 2016-2017 regular-season play this Friday at Georgetown. Camille Ramasastry | Hatchet Photographer

Then-junior Shannon Cranshaw drives to the hoop in GW’s win against Saint Louis last year. Cranshaw and the Colonials open 2016-2017 regular-season play this Friday at Georgetown. Camille Ramasastry | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Marty Fenn.

What: Women’s basketball season-opener (0-0) at Georgetown (0-0)

Where: McDonough Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Friday, November 11 at 7 p.m.

The back-to-back reigning Atlantic 10 Champion Colonials begin their 2016-2017 season with a bang this Friday as they visit cross-town rival Georgetown. 

The teams last met in 2014, when GW edged the Hoyas 72-60 in the Smith Center.

The Case for the Colonials:

The regular season-opener will also mark first-year head coach Jennifer Rizzotti’s GW debut. The former Hartford head coach takes over a program which lost key leaders in Jonquel Jones and Lauren Chase this offseason. However, there is a lot to be said for these Colonials, who could be sleepers in the A-10 after being picked to finish fourth in the league’s preseason poll. 

For one, the Colonials return major contributors from last year. Senior forward Caira Washington is now the marquee figure of the team after posting a career year with 13.2 points and 8.8 rebounds, racking up First Team All-Conference honors. Washington is as much a force in the paint defensively as she is offensively, but her defensive presence could very well be bolstered by the arrival of transfer graduate student Lexi Martins, who was one of the best rebounders in the country at Lehigh University last year, averaging 13.6 boards per game.

A large part of the Colonials’ success last year could be attributed to their ability to rebound on both the defensive and offensive glass, and that should continue this year. Senior guard Hannah Schaible rebounds at a surprising clip for a small forward (6.0 per game), and is sure to make a huge impact on both sides of the ball. Schaible’s versatility on the offensive and defensive ends and her hustle play are consistent energizers to the rest of the squad, and her mid-range jumper is a consistent offensive weapon for Rizzotti’s new motion offense.

Likewise, the Colonials are extremely deep on the wing. Junior guard Brianna Cummings experienced a breakout year for the Colonials last year and was in fact perhaps the best player on the floor for a three-game stretch after Jonquel Jones went down with an injury mid-season. 

Similarly, don’t be surprised if senior guard Shannon Cranshaw has a big game or a big year. Cranshaw struggled to get good shots in Tsipis’ offense last year, but Rizzotti’s fluid system seems like a better fit for the three-point gunner.

The Hoyas are a poor three-point shooting team and, like the Colonials last year, depend on their ability to rebound the basketball and score in the paint. But the Colonials have the more formidable paint presence, which poses problems for Georgetown.

The Case for The Hoyas

Georgetown finished 16-14 in a Big East conference that advanced three teams to the NCAA Tournament last year. Despite being picked to finish fifth in the conference after losing five seniors, this team is still dangerous, in large part due to their versatility.

Six-foot-one-inch junior guard Dorothy Adomako’s ability to score the ball from different angles could certainly provide problems for the Colonials, who may have to stretch defensively and match the smaller Cummings against Adomako.

On the “shorter” end of the stick, 5-foot-5-inch sophomore guard Dionna White is the Hoyas’ version of Schaible. Despite her height, White led the Hoyas in with an astounding 6.1 rebounds per game last year. She also tied for the team lead in scoring with Adomako – both averaged 14.5 points per game – while leading the team in assists, steals, and three-pointers made.

Although Georgetown struggles to score the basketball and shoot from outside, they were a staunch defensive team, the type that spelled trouble for the Colonials last season. If the Hoyas can match up with the Colonials defensively and neutralize Rizzotti’s offense, they might be able to overcome their reliance on points in the paint and sneak out a win.

Bottom Line:

The Colonials are a new-look team and it will be interesting to see how they adapt to a new system, but they have experienced and versatile players that know how to get the job done. While the Hoyas will throw various different weapons at GW, look for the visitors to take home the win. 

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