Your Guide to GW sports

Redshirt junior Tyler Cavanaugh fights for a basket in the Colonials' win against Lafayette on Friday. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Redshirt junior Tyler Cavanaugh fights for a basket in the Colonials’ win against Lafayette on Friday. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

All week long leading up to GW’s season opener against Lafayette, men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan urged caution and preached patience. To the team, on the radio, after practice and to anyone, it seemed, who would listen, he said that this could be a trap game.

Had the game gone differently, Lonergan ran no risk of being criticized as overconfident, but it didn’t. The Colonials’ game went according to plan Friday night when they dominated the paint and cruised to an 85-76 win over the Leopards while playing 11 men deep.

“I thought we came out ready to play and did a good job, we wanted to establish the inside game,” Lonergan said.

A week after he made his coach promise to mention his assist-turnover ratio during the press conference after GW’s exhibition game, senior forward Kevin Larsen put up gaudier statistics, leading his team with a career-high 24 points and adding 11 rebounds.

Fellow big man Tyler Cavanaugh also posted a double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds to help GW to a 42-20 lead in points in the paint, 50-32 rebounding margin and 43.5 percent shooting from the field.

Larsen scored almost at will in the paint, making seven-of-10 attempts from the field and 10-of-13 from the free throw line. It was clear before the first media timeout that Larsen, who walked off the court snarling and high fiving opponents after sinking a jumper from the stripe and drawing a foul, was going to have himself a game. He also added three blocks and an assist with three turnovers.

“I was just trying to set the tone for my team, be aggressive, and I know that opens up a lot of other things for people but I shot 13 free throws today,” Larsen said. “I think that’s the most ever I’ve gotten close to, so I think that helped a lot.”

Had the team shot well from outside, they might have won by more. Senior point guard Joe McDonald got each of his three points from the free throw line, missing all four attempts from the field. Lonergan said that McDonald hadn’t practiced much during the week due to a “minor injury” but that he was fine and was only going to be held out of the game late if it was no longer in question. McDonald played 25 minutes and did take a trip to the locker room, but only because of a scrape between the eyes.

Sophomore guard Paul Jorgensen added 10 points and four assists, sophomore forward Yuta Watanabe had seven points and seven boards and graduate student guard Alex Mitola added five points, but the three combined to miss eight three-point attempts. GW ended the game shooting two-for-17 from beyond the three-point line.

“I spoke to our alumni before the game and I said I think we can really shoot and then we went out and went two-for-17 from threes,” Lonergan said. “But I don’t think, a guy like Alex he missed four open ones and he’s a great shooter so I don’t think that will happen too often.”

Eight players saw more than 10 minutes, allowing everyone to go into one of the biggest games of the

Senior Patricio Garino goes for a layup in the Colonials' home opener against Lafayette. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Patricio Garino goes for a layup in the Colonials’ home opener against Lafayette. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

season, Monday night’s matchup with No. 6 Virginia, relatively rested. Senior guard Patricio Garino had the most exhausting assignment, playing a team-high 34 minutes and often defending the Leopards’ best player, point guard Nick Lindner.

Lindner was held to a single bucket from the field during the first half, but got going in the second to keep Lafayette in the game. He finished with 27 points, 21 of them coming in the second half.

“They played much harder than us in the second half and that’s something we have to work on going into Monday night’s game,” Cavanaugh said.

Lindner was joined by senior guard Zach Rufer, junior guard Monty Boykins and sophomore forward Matt Klinewski as Leopards to score in double figures but, shut down inside, the team shot just 33.3 percent from the field and 28 percent from beyond the arc.

Aside from often drawing Lindner on defense, Garino also contributed 17 points and two blocks, slicing and dicing in transition while hitting two-of-three three-point attempts.

The Colonials also had a good night from the free throw line, making 29 of 40 attempts, though Lonergan said he wants to see those numbers improve to around 80 percent.

With the first win of the season in the books, Lonergan admitted after the game that he’d been watching a little bit of Virginia tape in preparation for the game. The Cavaliers, as well as the ESPN cameras and a whole lot of hype, visit the Smith Center at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.

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Senior Alexis Chandler drives to the basket in the Colonials' Sunday exhibition win. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Alexis Chandler drives to the basket in the Colonials’ Sunday exhibition win. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Matt Cullen.

What: Women’s basketball (29-4 last year) vs. Grambling State (10-20 last year)
When: Saturday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.

Where: Smith Center

The GW women’s team comes into the season with a huge target on its back. Although the NCAA tournament did not go as planned, an Atlantic 10 Championship, 29-4 record, a No. 21 ranking, and returning all five of their top scorers leads to high expectations for the Colonials. They are not sneaking up on anyone anymore, and everyone wants to beat them.

Even before all that, when these teams met early last season, it was smooth sailing for the Colonials. They were able to defend the home court by defeating Grambling State 89-51 behind an impressive night from then-freshman Kelli Prange (23 points, six rebounds, and 81 percent shooting from the field). That game kicked off GW’s longest winning streak in 7 years, spanning more than two months with 19 victories in a row.

This is the opening game of the season for both sides.

Here’s what to expect from the game:

The case for Grambling State:The Tigers have not had a winning record in over a decade, but they have been steadily improving since a miserable 2-26 season in 2008. They won five of their last 11 conference games last season, improving their regular-season home record to 8-4.

Grambling State is returning three of their top five scorers from last year including senior forward Yosha Watson. Watson led the team last season, averaging 12 points, 4.6 rebounds, and almost two assists per game. The only player to display constant scoring ability, the Tigers are going to run the offense through her all season long.

The Tigers will likely fill their backcourt with returning starters, sophomore guard Bre’Nae Andrews, sophomore guard Monisha Neal and senior guard Chanta Poole. Andrews is the only legitimate 3-point threat in the starting lineup after knocking down 32 percent of her 125 attempts in her freshman campaign. Neal and Poole will both bring the ball up the court and look to facilitate the game off the dribble.

Look for GSU to play fast and run the floor as fast as they can with their small lineup and quick guards. Fast break points were one of the few statistical categories that Grambling State led in the last matchup.

The case for GW:The Colonials boast one of the most impressive frontcourts in the entire country. The trio of Jonquel Jones, Caira Washington, and Kelli Prange combined to average 35.6 points, 26 rebounds, and three blocks per game last season.

Jones, Washington, and Prange are tough for any team to handle, but Grambling State is going to have a particularly hard time. Their lack of size and inside presence is their biggest weakness. With only one player over 6-feet compared to GW’s five it is going to be a challenge for the Tigers forwards to get anything going inside.

The Colonials also come into this game as the much more experienced and deep team. They go about 8-9 players deep in each game and with only two freshman, the majority of the team has experienced winning, losing and playing on a big stage at the college level.

Other than their returning starters, Grambling State don’t have much experience at all. They are going to look for several newcomers to contribute because they come into the season with half their roster as freshman.

Bottom Line: Expect GW to come out with the win. After last year’s early loss in the NCAA tournament, the Colonials are hungry to get back. With GW’s talent and experience up and down the roster it is hard to see Grambling State winning this game.

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Sophomore midfielder Koby Osei-Wusu pushes the ball in a game earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo by Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Sophomore midfielder Koby Osei-Wusu pushes the ball in a game earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo by Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Peter Hoegler.

Before the season started, no one could really put a finger on this men’s soccer team: they were projected to finish 10th in the conference, struggled to begin the out-of-conference slate and could not find a lineup that jelled. But the Colonials hit their stride in A-10 play and came out of nowhere to claim their first A-10 regular season title in four years.

Then, when expectations were finally high heading into the A-10 tournament, GW saw its stellar season come to an end on Thursday afternoon, losing 4-0 to No. 8 VCU.

“Things just did not go our way today,” head coach Craig Jones said. “We had a few early chances that we needed to convert on. We could have been 3-0 but we conceded two back to back. It is what it is.”

In the first 30 minutes of action, GW (10-8-0) looked like the stronger side, controlling possession and getting a few dangerous opportunities that just did not find the back of the net. Junior Tobi Adewole headed a great ball to junior Garrett Heine in the box, but Heine just missed wide. A little over five minutes later, sophomore Christian Lawal sent a great pass to sophomore Koby Osei-Wusu, whose shot sailed just over the crossbar. Heine had a good look in the 16th minute, but VCU keeper Pierre Gardan made the diving save to preserve to 0-0 score.

The Colonials’ best opportunity of the morning came in the 29th minute when senior Eddie Painter had his shot saved by the diving VCU keeper.

VCU got on the board in the 34th minute as their forward’s shot from just outside the box found the upper-right corner of the net for the 1-0 lead. Two minutes later, the Colonials were unable to clear after the Rams played the ball into the box, and it eventually found the foot of VCU’s Jose Herranz, who chipped it in for a 2-0 lead.

“Every time we tried to switch things up but nothing was working. Today was just not our day,” Jones said.

GW opened up the second half pressing the Rams’ back line hard, but to no avail. Heine had a few shots blocked by VCU defenders and Lawal had a header cleared away by a defender with about 20 minutes left.

In the final five minutes, the Rams added a pair of goals from Luc Fatton and Herranz to seal the outcome, as eighth-seeded VCU advanced to face No. 4 Fordham in Friday’s first semifinal contest.

“I was disappointed we did not play the way we have been playing the past few weeks. We wanted to show what GW soccer was this year and we didn’t play well. We’ll come back strong next year and hopefully we can take the next step,” Jones said.

GW has three quarters of the roster returning, including three of the team’s four All-Conference selections.

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Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015 12:59 a.m.

Basketball teams ink eight new Colonials

Five players signed National Letters of Intent to join the men’s basketball program during the early signing period, and three did the same to join the women’s basketball team, both programs announced Wednesday.

Point guard Darnell Rogers, combo guard Jair Bolden and forwards Kevin Marfo, Collin Smith and Arnaldo Toro signed with men’s head coach Mike Lonergan while women’s head coach Jonathan Tsipis added shooting guards Harper Birdsong, wing Kendall Bresee and combo guard Kendra Van Leeuwen to the 2016-2017 class.

“I’m excited because five guys, I think they’re all quality young men and they’re all good basketball players,” Lonergan said of his signees. “I think we have all our needs kind of covered.”

Smith was the first to commit to join the Colonials, which he did at the end of last spring. Lonergan called him the best shot blocker he’s had since Isaiah Armwood and touted the 6-foot-10-inch center’s athleticism.

After getting Smith, Lonergan and his staff faced a dry spell until October, when an avalanche of recruiting news started to pour in. Rogers came first on Oct. 6, and Marfo and Bolden followed in quick succession in the month of October.

“All these guys have played high level AAU, and then obvioulsy Kevin Marfo is probably the most decorated, he’s probably the most decorated recruit we have and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t come in here and be a four year starter,” Lonergan said.

Lonergan praised the three-star recruit Marfo’s rebounding and said he was as highly recruited of a player as he has ever gone after. Marfo is rated 31st nationally at the power forward position.

He said that through the months when news was slow to come in, he told his staff that “the harder you work the luckier you get,” and that some players waited “on the Dukes and Kentuckys, and some of them just wanted to take their time and that’s understandable.”

Lonergan’s philosophy is that if he can get a recruit to take a visit, especially an official visit, he feels good about his chances. Finally, three-star prospect Toro, a versatile post with a nice outside shot who averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds per game last season for St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J., which was ranked in the national top 25 by USA Today, rounded out the group.

Tsipis and the women’s program, meanwhile, were busy bolstering their backcourt.

The 5-foot-10-inch Birdsong won back-to-back Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools (TCIS) regular-season titles and a tournament championship in 2014 with Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and was named the 2015 TCIS Player of the Year after averaging 19.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game her junior season.

In a release, Tsipis called her a “dynamic scorer” and compared her to former standout Megan Nipe (’14) because of her quick release.

Tsipis made another player comparison when he likened the 5-foot-11-inch Bresee to junior shooting guard Hannah Schaible. The Maryland product, Bresee, averaged 20.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game with Urbana High School in 2015, making it all the way to the Maryland 3A state finals.

“Kendall has the ability to attack the basket and shoot the three, and she rebounds the ball with an aggressive nature,” Tsipis said.

Van Leeuwen gives the team an experienced, athletic player who played for the Canadian Junior National Team at the 2014 U-17 FIBA World Championships and helped her St. John’s College team win four straight city and regional titles.

“Kendra is a skilled combo guard who can really stretch the defense with her 3-point shooting,” Tsipis said. “She can really create shots for others and will be very comfortable in our transition game.”

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Junior Garrett Heine was named to the A-10 All-Conference First Team Wednesday. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Junior Garrett Heine was named to the A-10 All-Conference First Team Wednesday. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

After an unexpected yet sturdy 6‒2 Atlantic 10 campaign by men’s soccer, head coach Craig Jones and his first-place Colonials were recognized by the conference with a host of accolades Wednesday.

Jones was named A-10 Coach of the Year, a week after GW women’s soccer head coach Sarah Barnes took home the same award, while junior forward and GW leading scorer Garrett Heine was named to the All-Conference First Team.

Junior defender Tobi Adewole, sophomore forward Christian Lawal and senior goalkeeper Jack Lopez were also named to the All-Conference Second Team, and graduate student Matthew Scott and junior Sam Summerlin earned All-Academic team honors.

Picked this preseason to finish 10th in the Atlantic 10, the men’s soccer team completed its dark-horse regular season run Saturday, clinching the conference’s regular season title and a No. 1 seed in the A-10 championship for the first time in three years with a 1‒0 win over Saint Louis.

Jones is the second men’s soccer coach to earn the honor, following former head coach George Lidster who was named A-10 Coach of the Year three times in 24 seasons, and most recently in 2011.

After three years of losing records in conference play, this will be Jones’ first trip to the postseason as head coach. The 10-win season to which the GW alum guided his team this year was the program’s best since 2011, when the Colonials reached the A-10 championship final.

Heine leads GW with nine goals and four assists on the season, and is currently the third-leading scorer in the A-10. The San Diego native’s six game-winning goals, the most recent of which came off a penalty kick in double-overtime Saturday, are also the fifth-most in the nation and the most by a Colonial since 2008.

Adewole and Lopez are part of a GW defense that allowed a league-best four goals in A-10 play, and recorded seven shutouts overall, tied for most in the league. Adewole played the second-most minutes on the team this year, and even added one goal and two assists from the backline.

Through 10 games, Lopez has posted a 0.68 goals against average and 0.821 save percentage in his final year on the squad, good for second and third-best in the A-10, respectively.

Lawal, sidelined by injury to begin the season, has recorded four goals and three assists in 15 games. The team’s second-leading scorer also earned Atlantic 10 Player of the Week honors this October.

Scott, who is pursuing a master’s degree in international trade and investment, has a 3.78 GPA which helped him receive his second consecutive All-Academic nod. Summerlin, a finance major, has been recognized on the A-10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll in all four of his collegiate semesters and currently boasts a 3.85 GPA.

And while the four All-Conference First and Second Team picks are the most for GW since 2001, the Colonials are still searching for even greater success in the form of an A-10 postseason title.

That quest begins Thursday at 11 a.m. in Fairfax, Va. when No. 1 GW takes on No. 8 VCU in round one of the A-10 Championship.

On Oct. 24, the Colonials recorded their first-ever victory over the Rams in a 1‒0 decision at VCU.

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Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015 12:51 p.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball vs. Lafayette

Sophomore Paul Jorgensen fights through a defender in the Colonials' exhibition game against Gannon. Camille Ramasastry | Hatchet Photographer

Sophomore Paul Jorgensen fights through a defender in the Colonials’ exhibition game against Gannon. Camille Ramasastry | Hatchet Photographer

What: Men’s basketball (22-13 last year) vs. Lafayette (20-13 last year)
Where: The Smith Center, Washington, D.C., CSN Mid-Atlantic (TV)
When: Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.

First there’s preseason chatter, media days, scrimmages and exhibition play. Results that will bear little resemblance to the regular season games are scrutinized. Much is written, it feels like, in dry-erase marker.

On Friday night, it’s time to pull out the Sharpies. The 2015-2016 men’s basketball season officially gets underway at 7 p.m. in the Smith Center when the Colonials take on defending Patriot League Champion Lafayette in GW’s regular season opener.

Here’s what to expect from the game:

Case for the Colonials:
GW is more experienced, more talented and playing at home. The Leopards graduated three starters, all 1,000-point scorers, at the end of last year and will rely on just two returning players, starting guards senior Bryce Scott and junior Nick Lindner, who averaged more than five points per game last season. Only Lindner, who averaged 12.5 points and 5.2 assists per game last season, was a double-digit scorer.

The Colonials should also have a chance to recover nicely from a poor performance off the glass in their exhibition game, in which they only matched a Division II school with 36 rebounds. With many more weapons, Lafayette was still outrebounded by opponents last year, particularly on the offensive boards, helping opponents average 73 points per game against the squad.

This could be a chance for redshirt junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who had a solid-but-unspectacular exhibition game, to make a big impact in his first true contest back after sitting out his transfer year.

Case for the Leopards:
Lafayette may lack experience in the starting lineup, but the memories returning players do have are of winning their league and making it to the NCAA Tournament. The Leopards are not going to count themselves out in this game.

Lindner is the team’s top weapon, and won’t shy away from a fight. The preseason first-teamer is one of two returning starters, along with Scott, and seems to have a knack for big moments. He bumped his scoring output to 23.7 points per game during the Patriot League Tournament last season, earning the event’s MVP award.

Joe McDonald will take the brunt of the responsibility for containing him, but it will be particularly interesting to see how sophomore Paul Jorgensen and graduate student Alex Mitola deal with a potential matchup against Lindner when McDonald rests or is rotated off the ball.

Lafayette can also match GW in an area many teams can’t this season: size. The Leopards trot out a frontcourt of 6-8 sophomore forward Matt Klinewski and 6-10 senior center Nathaniel Musters, and they also play a 6-5 guard in junior Monty Boykins. None has much experience, but all are big bodies to defend, so one thing to watch will be how much playing time GW’s backup forwards receive.

Bottom line:
This is GW’s game to lose, as the Colonials should look like a well-oiled machine relative to the recreated Leopards lineup, but Lafayette has enough weapons, including good coaching from 21st-year skipper Fran O’Hanlon and leadership from Scott and Lindner, to keep them from running away with it. If GW manages to do that anyway, mark it as a very good sign. In permanent marker.

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Alex Kist.

Twice this season, the Colonials have had to compete against two of the best teams in the Atlantic 10, Dayton and Saint Louis, in the same weekend.

But neither at home nor on the road, where they were Friday against the Flyers and Sunday against the Billikens, were they able to get a win. GW (18-10, 7-5 A-10) fell in five sets to Dayton (21-5, 12-0 A-10) and suffered a clean sweep at the hands of Saint Louis (21-8, 10-3 A-10).

The Dayton contest was a nail biter with set scores of 25-16, 17-25, 25-21, 25-27 and 15-17. The Colonials and Flyers traded sets, but Dayton ultimately had the gas to clamp down on the attack at the end of the match.

“We were in system, we started right off the gate and put the pressure on them and really put a spear in them.” head coach Amanda Ault said. “Then when the second set started, they flipped things around to get even at the break. I told the girls that this was going to be a battle, and I think at the end, we went a little bit light and didn’t attack as strong as we should have.”

On Friday, junior middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu posted a career-high 14 total blocks and notched her third career double-double with 18 winners. She also showcased her offensive prowess against Saint Louis, amassing 10 kills.

For the second time this season, the Colonials fell to Billikens. But unlike the 3-2 loss on Oct. 9, Saint Loss defeated GW in only three sets. Set scores were 21-25, 26-28 and 20-25.

GW came out of the gate with a decisive kill by junior middle blocker Osuchukwu. Like in the Dayton game, both teams shared the momentum and traded points until a Billikens kill knotted the game at 8-8.

The Billikens ran away with a 7-0 rally and held the lead until the Colonials went on a 3-0 run, closing the gap at 16-20. Even though the blocking duo of Osuchukwu and sophomore outside hitter Aaliya Davidson helped the Billikens at set point at 21-24, Saint Louis came back refocused from a timeout and finished out the crucial first set with a kill.

Both teams were countering each other’s moves at the onset of the second set, until the Billikens knocked down back-to-back kills to go up 6-4. The teams traded points again until the Billikens went on a 3-0 run as the Colonials struggled to halt the attack, falling to 11-7. Saint Louis continued to build their offensive momentum, forcing GW to call timeout after a string of kills and a forced attack error to put the Colonials out of system.

Senior setter Jordan Timmer gave the team a much needed burst on the floor, knocking down a kill. Saint Louis then fell prey to one attack error after the next, creating a ripple effect, which allowed GW to tie the game at 16. GW finally stole the lead at 18-16 after capitalizing on a service error and forcing another attack error off the block. The Billikens were able to crawl back, however, to tie the game again at 19, and ride the set out to a 28-26 win.

“It was kind of the same situation as the end of the match at Dayton,” Ault said. “It’s more of a mental game for us, and dial things back and we’re scared to go for it instead of knowing that we have to go for it and being able to risk it and get a reward from that.”

To open the third set, Saint Louis jumped out to a 9-5 lead after finding holes in the GW lineup, knocking down a string of kills to control the tempo. GW charged back and was able to get the game to an 11-11 draw, but the game would be tied just one more time before the Billikens went on an 11-6 run to finish out the match.

Ault said that in both matches this weekend, the Colonials executed the game plan, but could not overcome mental barriers in the final sets of the contests. Instead of keeping that aggressive mentality and going for a kill to garner points, Ault said they would get “timid” sometimes in an attempt to minimize errors.

“Whether it’s practice or whether its competition, this week will be important for us to get that consistency, hold ourselves to a standard and make sure that we are taking care of our jobs individually,” Ault said.

GW returns on action on Friday to host Duquesne at 3 p.m.

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Junior Shannon Cranshaw fights through to the basket in the Colonials' win versus Christopher Newport. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

Junior Shannon Cranshaw fights through to the basket in the Colonials’ win versus Christopher Newport. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Marty Fenn.

The women’s basketball team coasted to a dominant 95-47 victory over Christopher Newport in their exhibition game Sunday afternoon.

Sophomore center Kelli Prange scored 21 points, including 16 in the first half, and paced the Colonials offense, which shot 47.6 percent from the field. The Colonials outrebounded the Captains 58-37, and hounded the ball on defense, forcing a whopping 26 turnovers.

“[It’s nice] to have a couple of opportunities to see where your team is at,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “To be able to play here in front of our fans with the lights on, it’s another step.”

The Colonials took the lead 17 seconds into the game and never relinquished it, starting the game off on a 15-0 run. The frontcourt dominated from the tip against an undersized Captains roster. Prange, junior forward Caira Washington and senior forward Jonquel Jones combined to pour in 50 points, and the Colonials dominated the interior with 52 points in the paint.

“When we stretch Jonquel out, Kelli is really taking advantage of the opportunity,” Tsipis said. “I just thought she put herself in great positions to be successful.”

Prange, who according to coach Tsipis had a phenomenal summer, was assertive from the start, and proved that she can certainly stack up with the likes of preseason All-Americans Jones and Washington.

“Not only myself but for [Jones] and Caira, we all have this way about us when we play,” said Prange. “Opponents don’t know how to guard us because we can go into the post and post up or step out and shoot the three. It happened to be me today but one game it’s going to be Caira and the next it’s going to be JJ.”

The Colonials played exceedingly fast all game, particularly with graduate student and guard Lauren Chase pushing the tempo in transition and catching the Captain defense out for easy baskets.

“I like to push the tempo especially early in the game so everyone has that same mindset,” said Chase. “Playing fast is our mojo and we enjoy doing it because it makes the game so much fun.”

The Colonials scored 20 fast break points, and capitalized on errors from the Captains with 31 points off turnovers. The rebounding advantage proved to be a big boost as well, as the Colonials scored 24 second chance points.

Despite the dominant performance, Tsipis stressed the importance of finding elements to address for the coming season.

“Newport stretched us and I think we got sucked in,” he said. “As fast as we play and look to put the ball in the basket, I want to be as good if not better on the defensive end. It gives us good film to show the team and make sure we’re better in practice on these things.”

Thus the exhibition is in the books, and the Colonials will embark on their 2015-16 campaign with high expectations (and a No. 21 ranking in the AP poll). For Lauren Chase, who is in her fifth year of athletic eligibility after having transferred from UMBC to GW in 2013, today marked the beginning of her last ride.

“It’s a blessing, me and JJ have that special bond having come in together and being able to go out together. “I’m with the most amazing girls that I’ll probably be friends with the rest of my life.”

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Junior Garrett Heine pushes up the field in the Colonials' win against UMass earlier this season. Heine scored the game-winner in double overtime Saturday against Saint Louis. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Junior Garrett Heine pushes up the field in the Colonials’ win against UMass earlier this season. Heine scored the game-winner in double overtime Saturday against Saint Louis. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Peter Hoegler.

Craig Jones has seen a lot of disappointment in his first three years as head coach for men’s soccer, but this year has been different; this year, his team has shocked the Atlantic 10.

“All year, people have been counting us out. I told the guys when we get that one chance, when it happens, we are going to make it count,” Jones said.

That chance came in the second overtime period in Saturday night’s final regular season showdown against A-10 heavyweight Saint Louis, when Garrett Heine got tackled in the box for a penalty kick. Heine then stepped up to the strike and did what he has done for the Colonials all season: buried the game winner.

With the win and Dayton’s loss, GW (10-7-0, 6-2-0 A-10) earned its first A-10 regular-season title since 2011 and third in program history. The Colonials will be the number one seed in next week’s A-10 Championship at George Mason, where they will see their first playoff action in four years against No. 8 seed VCU, but Jones said the team tried not to think about the big picture during the game.

“It was a tactical battle. Both teams had a lot to play for,” Jones said. “We have been just taking it one game at a time and this was our eighth step in A-10 play. When we don’t look ahead, everything falls into place.”

Senior goalkeeper Jack Lopez recorded five saves in his fifth shutout of the year. In 656 minutes of A-10 play, he has allowed just two goals and has a tiny goals-against average of 0.27 in league games. The Colonials as a team posted its third consecutive shutout and seventh of the season, its most clean sheets since 2011.

Though Saint Louis outshot the Colonials 8-4 throughout the game, neither side had great chances. In overtime, Heine got a fantastic through-ball from Alastair Berry and was wiped out by the Saint Louis keeper as he was shooting. Heine then converted the chance for his team-best ninth goal of the season and league-leading sixth game-winner.

“We are delighted,” Jones said. “When times were tough these past three years I kept my faith in the process. We have the belief we can win. It’s a great step forward for the program but we can still improve.”

The A-10 champions are now onto VCU. There’s no counting them out now.

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Sophomore Yuta Watanabe drives to the basket in the Colonials' win versus Gannon. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Sophomore Yuta Watanabe drives to the basket in the Colonials’ win versus Gannon. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

GW basketball has returned.

The Colonials opened their 2015-2016 campaign Saturday night with a 92-47 drubbing of the Gannon Golden Knights (DII) in an exhibition match in which the entire lineup saw substantial minutes.

Behind five separate double-figure performances, a team-high 15 points and six rebounds from sophomore forward Yuta Watanabe and 48 points from its bench, GW cruised to the 45-point victory.

“It was good for all of us to play in front of this environment again and be back at the Smith Center, it’s always good playing here,” senior guard Joe McDonald, who had 12 points, three rebounds and three assists on the night, said.

As expected, McDonald, Watanabe, junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh, senior forward Kevin Larsen and senior guard Patricio Garino took the floor as GW’s starting five. The group came out rolling and quickly put

Senior Kevin Larsen goes up for a layup in the Colonials' exhibition win against Gannon. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior Kevin Larsen goes up for a layup in the Colonials’ exhibition win against Gannon. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Gannon in a 10-0 hole.

With the double-digit lead, head coach Mike Lonergan got his bench involved early in the exhibition. But up against mostly GW second stringers, Gannon immediately stopped the bleeding and embarked on a 10-point run of its own to even the score.

“We were up 10-0 and we were trying a lot of combinations with guys who aren’t normally going to play much,” Lonergan said. “[Gannon] shot something like 47 percent in the first half which was disappointing but second half they only shot 23 percent, so I thought our defense was pretty good.”

While the Colonials’ newer players looked disorganized at times, like during two first-half turnovers by sophomore guard Anthony Swan, the majority seemed to eventually find their rhythm.

Graduate student and Dartmouth transfer guard Alex Mitola looked comfortable dictating play at the one and put up 13 points on the night, including eight points to lead the bench in the first half. Freshman guard Jordan Roland, sophomore guard Paul Jorgensen and junior Matt Hart also looked good offensively off the pine, combining for 29 points in the contest, though Hart struggled to finish the plays he did a good job of creating when he didn’t end up at the free throw line. Hart finished with seven points and went 4-5 at the stripe but was 1-8 from the field.

After the Knights’ mini comeback, GW turned up the heat and never looked back. The Colonials answered with a commanding 17-3 run later in the frame to earn a double-figure cushion, thanks to an aggressive defense that forced 29 Gannon turnovers on the night, while only giving the ball away themselves only eight times.

The defense looked stronger in the second frame, as GW held the Knights to just 17 points in the final half. Rebounding on the night, however, was a toss-up with both sides securing a total of 36 each.

In addition to Watanabe and Mitola, McDonald, Jorgensen and Roland all scored in double-figures. Every Colonial got a bucket with the exception of freshman forward Collin Goss and GW averaged a 47.1 percent clip from the field, but the three-ball only dropped seven times on a combined 24 attempts.

The Colonials also found themselves in some foul trouble in a choppy match where the teams combined for 60

Sophomore Paul Jorgensen fights through a defender in the Colonials' win Saturday night. Camille Ramasastry | Hatchet Photographer

Sophomore Paul Jorgensen fights through a defender in the Colonials’ win Saturday night. Camille Ramasastry | Hatchet Photographer

fouls. Swan fouled out with five, while Cavanaugh and Watanabe posted four each.

“There were a lot fouls definitely but we talked about it during timeouts and we still executed so that’s the main thing, and our turnovers were limited so that’s always a plus,” McDonald said.

GW kicks off its regular season schedule Friday Nov. 13 against Lafayette at home.

“We’re a work in progress,” Lonergan said. “I’m glad we have another week to prepare for a very well-coached Lafayette team, but I’m excited about this group, I really think we have a lot of weapons.”

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