Your Guide to GW sports

Sophomore forward Kelli Prange scores in GW's win over La Salle last week. Hatchet File Photo.

Sophomore forward Kelli Prange scores in GW’s win over La Salle last week. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Matt Cullen.
What: Women’s Basketball (15-3, 5-0 A-10) vs. Massachusetts (6-11, 0-5 A-10)

Where: The Smith Center, Washington, D.C.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. EST

The Colonials are coming off a huge road victory against then-No. 25 Duquesne and are now on a ten-game winning streak coming into Wednesday’s game against Massachusetts.

UMass does not have the same momentum. They have been defeated in five consecutive Atlantic 10 matchups including a 25-point loss to St. Bonaventure and a 20-point loss to Saint Louis.

Last year when these two teams met, the Colonials were able to come out on top 69-54 on the road. This effort included 14 points from then-sophomore guard Hannah Schaible, 13 points from then-junior forward Jonquel Jones, and 10 points from then-freshman forward Kelli Prange.

Here’s what to expect from the game:

The Case for the Colonials:
Jones is coming off her second consecutive A-10 Player of the Week Award and is on top of her game. She leads the NCAA in rebounds per game (15.4) and forces opponents to fight for their defensive boards.

Jones and junior forward Caira Washington are also imposing presences in the paint. The two have combined for six blocks per game in conference play.

Look for the Colonials to keep the tempo up right off the tip. The Minutewomen have not scored a fast break point in two games and may not be able to keep up with GW’s pace.

Of the two teams, the Colonials have been playing a much higher level of basketball, having wins over strong teams including Dayton, Villanova, and Saint Joseph’s.

Schaible has come out strong since her return from injury. She has now started the past nine games and been a consistent leader on the defensive side of the floor. Schaible’s 9.5 points per game are just an added bonus when you consider her intangibles.

The Case for UMass: This is the Minutewomen’s chance to end a streak, take out a team atop the conference, and turn around their season.

A tight loss with a 9-8 (3-2 A-10) Saint Joseph’s team shows that UMass has the ability to play with good teams, even though things have not gone their way as the clock ticks down.

UMass comes out with some talent spread around the starting lineup. Sophomore guard Cierra Dillard is the scoring leader for the Minutewomen, averaging 13.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game. On Sunday, Dillard dropped a career-high 27 points in a losing effort against Richmond.

Freshman guard Bria Stallworth plays the point and leads the Minutewomen with 3.6 assists per game. She also has the ability to get to the basket, highlighted by a 20-point performance against Duke.

It appears that a combination of junior forward Kymber Hill and sophomore forward Maggie Mulligan will have the duty of guarding Jones throughout the game. If these two have any success, it will be an enormous step in the direction of winning.

The Bottom Line: This game should move the Colonials to 6-0 and the Minutewomen to 0-6 in the A-10. In all facets of the game the Colonials seem to have the advantage and momentum is clearly on their side. If UMass is able to pull off the surprising upset it will have to be some function of great guard play, efficient shooting, and an unlikely shut down of Jones.

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

After a standout week, including a big performance against one of the top teams in the league, senior forward Jonquel Jones earned her fifth Atlantic 10 conference Player of the Week Award this season, the league announced Monday.

Jones helped the Colonials down La Salle on Wednesday, 83-59. She notched 13 points, posted 16 rebounds and added four blocks.

Jones’ 6-foot-4 height and guard-like abilities with the ball have stumped opponents and helped the Colonials lead the nation with 52.3 rebounds per game. Jones paces the NCAA in rebounds herself, averaging 15.4 boards per contest.

In Sunday’s match against Duquesne, the senior post led the Colonials with 18 rebounds. With the help of assists from graduate student guard Lauren Chase, Jones tallied 24 points. She also added seven blocks, silencing the Dukes’ offensive drives.

Jones and the rest of the Colonials take on Massachusetts on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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

With both teams hovering at the top of the Atlantic 10 conference leaderboard, the Colonials put an end to No. 25 Duquesne’s 15-game winning streak to remain undefeated in conference play Sunday on the road.

Led by senior forward Jonquel Jones’ 23 points and 18 rebounds, GW (15-3, 5-0 A-10) knocked off a top-50 RPI Duquesne (16-2, 4-1 A-10) team, 70-52, to extend its winning streak to ten games.

But Jones wasn’t the only playmaker, as the Colonials employed a diverse scoring offense. Graduate student guard Lauren Chase posted 10 points and added six assists and junior guard Hannah Schaible notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Schaible also added an assist to the cause.

“In the third quarter, we were able to stay in our transition game and were able to put them on their heels,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “As a staff, we felt like we could go deeper into our bench and continue to play at the same pace then maybe Duquesne could for 40 minutes. I love that part of the balance.”

Four players on the GW roster finished with 10 points or more, whereas the Dukes struggled to find their rhythm. Senior guard DevaNyar Workman paced Duquesne with 21 points, carrying the team while its star shooter, senior guard April Robinson, was shut down.

Robinson was scoreless the entire game and picked up four fouls to limit her aggressiveness. She spent 15 minutes on the bench and was tightly guarded, missing all seven of her shots from the field.

Fueled by home-court advantage, Duquesne had all the momentum at the onset of the match but struggled to hold on. The Dukes went on a 6-0 run to elevate to a 10-7 lead off a three-point make. Tsipis called a timeout and GW started to take charge. After trading points with the Dukes, Jones broke through defensive pressure and knocked down a perimeter shot. The Colonials held a 14-13 lead at the end of the first period.

The rest of the game belonged to the Colonials. Schaible kicked off the second quarter with a shot from behind the arc, igniting a 9-2 run. The Dukes were unable to convert easy looks underneath and GW capitalized on their lack of offensive efficiency.

Duquesne made only 19 of its 63 attempts in the game.

“The entire game, we were at a really consistent level from our execution on the offensive end, even if sometimes the shots didn’t go in, we took care of the ball,” Tsipis said. “Defensively, we never let the leading-scoring team in the league get into a consistent offensive rhythm.”

The Colonials led by seven at the half, but then exploded throughout third period. They played under control, committing just 11 turnovers, and got 14 second-chance points off 22 offensive rebounds as well as 19 fast break points.

GW scored in bunches, putting together runs of 11 straight points and six straight points to extend its lead to 54-38 at the end of three quarters. Workman attacked the rim, but was unable to chip away on her own.

Duquesne opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, but with less than four minutes left in regulation, Jones went on a personal 6-0 run to solidify the victory.

“This is definitely a big win for us because heading into this game, they were a top-25 team,” Chase said. “Everyone is up for the challenge to go further in post-season play than we did last year. We want to play the best teams and we are all on the same page in that accord.”

The Colonials return to action on Wednesday to host Massachusetts at 7 p.m.

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Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 11:58 p.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball at Duquesne

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

What: Women’s basketball (14-3, 4-0 A-10) vs. No. 25 Duquesne (16-1, 4-0 A-10)

Where: A.J. Palumbo Center, Pittsburgh, Pa., ESPNU (TV)

When: Sunday, Jan. 17 at 12 p.m.

After cruising to its ninth straight victory against La Salle, GW heads to Pittsburgh to take on one of its top-performing league rivals.

Duquesne, which has recorded just one loss all year, is currently the team to beat in the Atlantic 10 conference. Their 15-game winning streak is the fourth-longest in the nation.

With both teams competing for the top-seed in the conference, the Sunday contest should be an entertaining battle. The Colonials and Dukes are both undefeated thus far in A-10 play as they head into their 61st all-time matchup.

When the Colonials saw the Dukes last January, they dominated in the paint and commanded the offensive glass. GW got the 83–56 victory and extended its win streak at the time to 15 games en route to an A-10 Championship trophy. Standout senior forward Jonquel Jones scored a game-high 22 points and posted 17 rebounds.

Here is what to expect from the game:

The case for the Colonials:

The Colonials have finally found balance in their offensive attack, but GW is a defensively-minded squad, averaging 52.1 rebounds per game, and will need to play to its strengths to compete with the Dukes.

Jones leads the Colonials with an average of 17.1 points and 15.2 rebounds. If the Dukes are unable to limit Jones in the paint, she could have another big game.

Junior forward Caira Washington has also contributed to GW’s success early on in games, boasting a 51.2 percent field goal percentage this season.

Graduate student guard Lauren Chase has also been solid so far this year, showcasing her versatility on the court. Chase averages 5.5 assists per game. In the 30-point victory over Hartford earlier in the season, Chase notched a 12-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

The case for the Dukes:

Duquesne has the fewest losses in the A-10 thanks to its consistency in the paint, and an explosive offense that has secured triumphs over fierce competition.

Duquesne averages a conference-high 75.4 points per game and has outscored conference opponents by 10 points or more in each game.

GW will need to keep senior guard April Robinson, who is averaging 14.6 per game and 7.7 assists per game, on its radar. Robinson received A-10 Co-Player of the Week honors on Nov. 3 after propelling her team to victory against Howard, North Carolina A&T and New Mexico. Over the three-game span, she averaged 18.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game.

The Dukes are coming off a 79–70 win over Rhode Island where Robinson scored 29 points and Amadea Szamosi posted a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. If the Dukes can box out and produce tight coverage against the height of the GW post players, they could achieve success on the boards.

The bottom line:

GW needs to have a seamless game, minimize turnovers and control the tempo to hand the Dukes their first conference loss. The Dukes will have to guard Jones tightly and get Robinson involved in this battle of the A-10′s best.

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Friday, Jan. 15, 2016 10:21 p.m.

Colonials drop nail-biter at Dayton

No. 1 Alex Mitola and No. 30 Matt Hart celebrate a three-point shot in the Colonials' win over Duquesne last Saturday. GW dropped a game that featured 19 lead changes Friday at Dayton. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

No. 1 Alex Mitola and No. 30 Matt Hart celebrate a three-point shot in the Colonials’ win over Duquesne last Saturday. GW dropped a game that featured 19 lead changes Friday at Dayton. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

With less than a minute on the clock, the crowd at UD Arena on Friday night had just finished a gleeful rendition of “We Will Rock You” when Charles Cooke, drove to the rim and went up with his right hand. Patricio Garino fouled him and Cooke made the bucket and the extra point to extend Dayton’s lead to 73-67 with 42.1 seconds left to play.

Head coach Mike Lonergan would call it the “play of the game” after it ended in a 77-70 GW loss to the Flyers, though there were at least a dozen that could fit that description.

On the next possession, Paul Jorgensen, starting in place of Joe McDonald, hit a three for his first bucket of the night to make it a one-possession game with 30 seconds left. But the Colonials (14-4, 3-2 A-10) couldn’t successfully trap on the next possession, and the Flyers (14-3, 4-1 A-10) got the ball to Dyshawn Pierre, a 90 percent free throw shooter entering the game, before GW could foul.

Pierre hit both his free throws at the line, the dagger for the Colonials’ hopes at an upset road win. It was a difficult ending after Pierre (26 points) and the free throw line frustrated GW all night.

“I’m disappointed, but not with the effort,” Lonergan said. “With how we played down the stretch. And the free throws. And the turnovers.”

The Colonials went 5-for-15 from the free throw line and committed 15 turnovers in the same game as they hit 11-of-22 three-pointers and tallied a season-high 23 assists.

Dayton played in an aggressive man-to-man defense that flustered the Colonials at times, but Tyler Cavanaugh helped the Colonials break out of it to come back from an eight point deficit in the first half. He hit consecutive threes as part of an 11-0 run that would have had GW up at the half, were it not for a last-second three by Pierre.

Cavanaugh led GW with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and four three-pointers. Kevin Larsen was close behind at 16 points and 10 rebounds, though he got lost in rotation on defense in GW’s 1-3-1.

“In the beginning they were really focused on me and him,” Larsen said. “Tyler kept us in the game when he hit three threes in a row.”

Dayton controlled the paint to start, but it evened out in the second half after the Colonials proved themselves with the deep ball. At one point, Larsen was assertive, though often fronted by Dayton’s smaller forwards to deny him the ball.

Larsen said he felt more comfortable going up against 6-foot-11 Steve McElvene where he could get more touches, but McElvene did some damage of his own. He joined Pierre and Cooke (15 points) in double figures with 12 points of his own and led Dayton with six rebounds.

Still, it was Pierre who did the most damage. He was there to foil the Colonials at every point, it seemed, with his five three-pointers and perfect 7-for-7 mark from the free throw line, including buckets after a GW technical.

The teams traded punches all game. GW got up 51-47 after an 8-0 run that included threes from Cavanaugh and Anthony Swan. Dayton got up 63-61 on a 6-0 run after Kyle Davis scored in transition after swiping the ball from Jorgensen, and Larsen couldn’t get either of two free throws to fall to stop it.

The Flyers got 22 points off GW’s turnovers, which allowed them to take more shots in the game despite GW outrebounding Dayton 40-29.

“Those little plays that I’m disappointed in because we’re so experienced – we’ve got to be focused mentally to not let that happen,” Lonergan said.

Beyond that, GW struggled to get points from players other than Cavanaugh, Larsen and Garino, who had 15. Jorgensen was 1-for-8 from the field, Yuta Watanabe and Alex Mitola each 2-for-6. Mitola was a good distributor with seven assists, as was Jorgensen with six.

By the end of the game, the lead had changed 19 times. Tensions flared at mid-court late in the game. Players were exhausted, tongues flopping out running up and down the court.

The moment wasn’t lost on Larsen, even after the loss.

“This is what we play basketball for,” he said. “It’s a great atmosphere.”

The Colonials have a week off to let their minds and bodies recover. Next up is Rhode Island, this time back in the Smith Center, on Friday at 7 p.m. McDonald is still being evaluated, but Lonergan said he was “hopeful” that he would be ready to play.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Matt Cullen.

Already the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week, senior forward Jonquel Jones was further praised on Tuesday when she received the Ann Meyers Drysdale Women’s National Player of the week award.

Jones was recognized for her stellar performance between Jan. 4 and Jan. 10 during which Jones and the Colonials picked up their 12th and 13th wins while extending their winning streak to eight games. Since then, the team also picked up a win against La Salle.

This is the second time that Jones has received this recognition after being named National Player of the Week last season on Feb. 10 2015.

In the first game of the week, the Colonials hosted Rhode Island where Jones was able to lead the team to a convincing 16-point victory. She totaled 19 points and 17 rebounds while shooting an efficient 67 percent from the field and going 7-for-7 from the line.

For the second game of the week, the Colonials traveled up to Dayton to take on the Flyers. Jones was able to pick up her NCAA-leading 13th double-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 15 rebounds including a game-high five offense boards. With just over a minute left the Bahamas native knocked down a three-pointer to give the Colonials the lead en route to the one point victory.

This past week was just a small chunk of Jones’ season in which she is averaging 17.2 points (second in the A-10), 15.2 rebounds (most in the nation), and 2.7 blocks (second in the A-10).

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Senior forward Jonquel Jones scores in GW's win over La Salle Wednesday. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

Senior forward Jonquel Jones scores in GW’s win over La Salle Wednesday. Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Matt Cullen.

Before the start of the season, head coach Jonathan Tsipis preached the importance of defense and insisted that if the Colonials played tough defense, they would win games.

So far this season that has been exactly the case, and Wednesday against La Salle (3-13) was no different. The 83-59 win brings the Colonials (14-3) to an unblemished 7-0 in games during which they hold their opponents to below 35 percent shooting.

GW was extremely active on its side of the court to begin the game. On the Explorers’ first eight possessions down the floor they were unable to get anything going, committing three turnovers, two offensive fouls, and missing a wide-open layup.

Despite the bad start, La Salle was able to make it a one-point game with just over a minute left in the first quarter. The Colonials finished the set strong with a three-pointer from freshman guard Mei-Lyn Bautista and three points the old fashioned way from senior forward Jonquel Jones.

That small surge to end the first sparked the Colonials to a 17-0 run in less than four minutes of play behind a balanced attack that included another three from Bautista, four points from junior forward Caira Washington, and four points from junior guard Hannah Schaible.

Schaible attributed the run to them getting back to their own style of play.

“We just turned around and played our game because when we play our game, we work really well as a team,” she said.

Schaible ended up finishing with a team-high 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting including going an impressive 5-of-5 in the first half.

Other than junior guard Shannon Cranshaw and senior guard Alexis Chandler (who combined for 0-10 from the field), the Colonials had an efficient scoring night with five players shooting over 50 percent (La Salle had zero).

The Colonials took a 20-point lead going into halftime allowing Coach Tsipis to play ten different players for double-digit minutes. Bautista and senior forward Delacy Anderson, in particular, took advantage of their minutes, combining for 19 points on 8-11 shooting.

“[Bautista] is really growing her game. People are starting to see that when you have a good example in front of you in Lauren Chase that you have to go head to head with in every practice,” Tsipis said. “Now she finished with five assists and no turnovers, and she’s getting people great shots and she is able to be an offensive threat from the three-point line.”

In the second half the Explorers came out in a full court trap but the strategy — just like their first half approach of an aggressive box and one — was not successful.

There was no let up during the first six minutes of the second half, when the Colonials extended their lead to 29.

That made the last 15 minutes of the game essentially a formality, as the Colonials cruised to the win with their starters on the bench during the final set.

The Explorers were not expected to win coming into the game, but they expected sophomore guard Amy Griffin—who averages 17.8 points per game—to guide their attack and give them a chance for the upset. Through the first three quarters, Griffin was 0-for-11 from the field, had turned the ball over seven times, and picked up three fouls.

“Everybody understood the game plan on what we were trying to do with Amy Griffin. I was just really pleased. The assignment started with Caira Washington, Hannah Schiable guarded her, and we guarded her off the ball screen. That didn’t allow them to get into an offensive rhythm,” Tsipis said.

Griffin eventually found her scoring touch and finished knocking down her last six baskets and totaling 16 points and 7 rebounds before she fouled out. Her effort was too late, with the majority of her baskets coming in the final minutes, with an impossible margin to make up.

“We talk about every game being a building block and this game was just another step for us,” Jones said.

Sunday Jan. 17 the Colonials experience their toughest A-10 challenge so far as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on rv/No. 25 Duquesne (16-1).

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Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016 10:24 p.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball at Dayton

What: Men’s basketball (14-3, 3-1 A-10) vs. Dayton (13-3, 3-1 A-10).
Where: UD Arena, Dayton, Ohio., ESPN2 (TV)
When: Friday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.

It doesn’t get easier for the Colonials after their first road win of the Atlantic 10 season, at UMass, on Tuesday. GW heads to Dayton for a nationally televised Friday night matchup.

Dayton, which just fell out of the Associated Press’ Top 25 rankings, represents the best opportunity for a statement-making upset left on GW’s schedule. But the Colonials will likely head into a packed UD Arena without senior point guard and emotional leader Joe McDonald.

It’s a game full of narrative-packed intrigue, but also full of challenges for the Colonials against the team picked to finish first in the conference.

Here’s what to expect from the game:

The case for the Colonials: Inconsistency has plagued Dayton. The Flyers lost to La Salle at home on Jan. 9 and already sported a bad loss to Chattanooga.

In the La Salle game, the explorers threw an old-school wrinkle at the Flyers, holding the ball until late in the shot clock, stalling the game and throwing Dayton off-balance. Dayton has not played many games at full strength, and may still be working on communication and cohesion, especially against different looks.

GW’s 1-3-1 could help take away drives from the athletic Dayton guards, and if the Flyers are forced to beat GW from distance, they may not be able to. Dayton makes 46.5 percent of shots from the field, but just 33.7 percent of three-point attempts.

The Flyers have struggled against zone defenses, particularly when they have been outrebounded by opponents. It happens that the Colonials are one of two teams (the other is George Mason) with a better rebounding margin than the Flyers, at +5.5 to +4.8 boards per game, respectively. GW also sports the best offensive rebounding percentage in the league, at 33.9 percent.

GW’s combination of ball movement and shooting should mean that the team will be able to score on Dayton. The Flyers will be vulnerable to GW’s three-point shooting and ability to get to the line. Opponents are hitting 36 percent of their three-point shots against the Flyers and GW has scored 318 points from the charity stripe, most in the A-10 by 61, on league second-best 76 percent shooting. Dayton, on the other hand, has hit only 67.8 percent of attempts.

The case for the Flyers: The best argument for Dayton is the team’s ceiling. The Flyers have a talent-packed roster that is just fully coming together and has already proven itself in wins against Iowa and at Vanderbilt.

The Colonials know the frontcourt of Dyshawn Pierre and Kendall Pollard, both 6-foot-6, but the Flyers have benefited from the addition of 6-foot-11 redshirt freshman center Steve McElvene, who is averaging 6.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in 20.9 minutes per game. To do that, McElvene is getting more than 14 percent of available offensive rebounds and 23 percent of defensive rebounds. He also has a block percentage of 11.2, 20th in Division I according to KenPom.

Around the perimeter, GW knows junior gurads Scoochie Smith (10.6 points and 4.5 assists per game) and Kyle Davis (8.6 points in less than 5.5 shots per game), but newcomer Charles Cooke is leading the Flyers in scoring at 15.7 points per game. The explosive 6-foot-5, 200-pound wing is also adding 6.5 rebounds per game and would be a difficult matchup for the Colonials, who would likely need a big game from Patricio Garino on defense to contain him.

Cooke might not be at full strength, however, after he injured his oblique in practice on Monday and did not play in Dayton’s win over Davidson on Tuesday. Miller was hoping he would be ready to play the Wildcats, though, so he is not expected to miss much time.

GW, of course, is likely to be without starting point guard Joe McDonald. Paul Jorgensen got the start in McDonald’s place at UMass on Tuesday, but it was Alex Mitola who came away having impressed the most. The two will likely split minutes.

The bottom line: Dayton is favored to win at home. Lesser teams have won on bad days for the Flyers, but it would take a big defense of the paint, stopping penetration and rebounding, for GW to beat Dayton playing up to its potential.

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Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016 6:33 p.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball vs. La Salle

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Matt Cullen.

What: Women’s Basketball (13-3, 3-0 A-10) vs. La Salle (3-12, 0-3 A-10)

Where: The Smith Center, Washington, D.C.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. EST

Coming off eight successive victories, the Colonials sit at third overall in the A-10, in a three-way tie for most conference victories.

Coming off three successive losses, the Explorers sit at 14th in the A-10, last among all conference teams.
Wednesday night will be the time to tell if rankings and records are simply numbers, or accurate projections of future outcomes.

The last time that these two teams saw each other the Colonials pulled off a decisive victory. They led all but 27 seconds at the beginning of the game and won by 19 despite a tepid 27.5 percent clip from the field.

Here’s what to expect from the game:

The Case for the Colonials: So far this season, the Colonials have been the much better team. They have defeated a ranked team in Iowa, secured many convincing wins, and have not yet lost a game in the conference.

Not only have the Explorers not accomplished those things, but also they do not have a player performing like senior forward Jonquel Jones. She has been on a tear all season, leading the nation in rebounding (15.2 rpg) while still scoring 17.2 points per game. Jones was recently selected as A-10 Player of the Week after averaging 21 points and 16 rebounds over GW’s previous two games.

Their frontcourt was on display in Sunday’s matchup against Dayton with junior forward Caira Washington and sophomore forward Kelli Prange combining for 25 points on 57 percent shooting along with Jones dropping 23 herself.

Graduate student point guard Lauren Chase has struggled a bit with turnovers in conference play, but her high paced game and tough defense are what the Colonials are looking for from their guards.

Sophomore guard Bri Cummings is a key piece to the GW defense, but the Colonials will likely be without her on Wednesday. Junior guard Shannon Cranshaw and freshman guard Mei-Lyn Bautista will be called on to step up their defense in her absence.

The Case for La Salle: The Explorers have one primary scorer in sophomore guard Amy Griffin and one primary distributor in junior guard Jasmine Alston.

Both Griffin and Alston are excellent players that the La Salle offense utilizes almost every possession. They both rarely leave the floor and end up being the difference makers in a win or a loss.

Griffin leads the team in points and rebounds averaging 17.8 and 6.9 per game, respectively. She has scored in double digits in all but one game this season, and in that she was limited to 12 minutes of playing time due to injury. Griffin has also had five games scoring over 20 points, including a career-high 31 points against Monmouth.

Alston is the other big rebounding contributor on the squad. At only 5-foot-9 she collects 5.8 rebounds per game.

La Salle does boast some size in the paint including sophomore forward Ashanti Freeland who rejects more than one block per game and at 6-foot-3 is a defensive threat close to the hoop.

The Bottom Line: The Colonials should control the boards and the tempo of play. They still have momentum on their side and the home court advantage. Barring an atrocious shooting display, GW should pick up its fourth A-10 win against the Explorers.

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Kevin Larsen, Tyler Cavanaugh and Matt Cimino celebrate during GW's win over Duquesne. Cavanaugh and Larsen combined for 39 points in GW's win at UMass on Tuesday. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Kevin Larsen, Tyler Cavanaugh and Matt Cimino celebrate during GW’s win over Duquesne. Cavanaugh and Larsen combined for 39 points in GW’s win at UMass on Tuesday. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

AMHERST, Mass. – They may have used trumpets at Lexington and Concord, but on Tuesday night in Amherst, Mass., all the Minutemen heard was the sound of a whistle blowing.

The shrill tone sounded so frequently in a stretch bridging halftime it was remarkable that every stray dog between Greenfield and Springfield didn’t come barking down the doors of the Mullins Center. One fan implored a referee to “pull your head out,” which was delicate by Hampshire County standards.

Dissatisfaction from an opposing home crowd was a new sound, one that came as GW rode a 29-34 mark from the free throw line all the way to a 81-70 win over UMass, the team’s first road win of the Atlantic 10 season, without senior point guard Joe McDonald.

“I know UMass isn’t a first place team but this is a good win for us,” said head coach Mike Lonergan. “Any road win in college basketball in a conference basketball game is big, especially after we gave that one away at Saint Louis, we had to get our first one for confidence as much as anything.”

Tyler Cavanaugh, once again, led all scorers with 26 points and Kevin Larsen had a game-high eight rebounds to go with 13 points.

“When we go inside good things happen and I thought we did a great job getting to the free throw line and we made our free throws,” Lonergan said.

The game was tied at 38-38 more than two minutes into the second half before the Colonials (14-3, 3-1 A-10) drained a series of three-pointers to take the lead and keep it. GW made 8-of-19 three-point attempts, six of the makes coming after halftime. The Colonials were 12-12 from the free throw line in the first half to keep it close despite ten turnovers and as the UMass (8-8, 1-3 A-10) press took time off each possession.

Patricio Garino broke out of a scoring slump with 17 points, aided by a 3-for-5 night from beyond the arc. Garino, in his fourth year playing with McDonald, said he was driven by a voicemail the point guard left with an assistant coach to play for the team before the game.

“He wanted us to make the first punch first, just be aggressive and take care of the ball. It was hard to hear but it was a nice touch from Joe. You can see his leadership and how much he cares about the team and that definitely motivated us to this win, playing for him,” Garino said.

McDonald did not play due to an eye injury suffered in GW’s win against Duquesne Saturday. Lonergan said that his eye was swollen shut when he went to the emergency room from the game, and that the main issue is getting the swelling down. Lonergan said that he would talk to McDonald’s doctors Wednesday and that the senior would be evaluated further later in the week, but that he was “probably doubtful for Dayton.”

Sophomore Paul Jorgensen started in his place, and got help off the bench from graduate student Alex Mitola. Jorgensen, who Lonergan said got the start for “confidence,” had two points and three assists in 26 minutes while Mitola recorded 11 points in 25 minutes with 3-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc.

Mitola in particular was fantastic against the Minuteman press, recording seven assists without any turnovers, passing out of traps against much taller players and prompting broadcaster Tom Pecora to cry that Mitola “looks like an altar boy but plays like a Navy SEAL.”

“I’ve never heard a comment like that before,” Mitola said, laughing. “I’ve been heckled and called Justin Bieber before!”

Ball movement was typically critical for GW’s offense, as the Colonials recorded 18 assists on 22 made baskets.

“Coach said to us before the game that he wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to test myself and Paul with our starting point guard being out so we were kind of ready for it,” Mitola said. “But they were controlling the tempo in the first half because of their press. In the second half we did a much better job of handling it, breaking it, getting better shots, getting what we wanted.”

Lonergan said he still wants the team to get better defensively, though he thought the 1-3-1 looked the best it has in several games. The Minutemen still shot 49 percent, but had 15 turnovers, 11 coming in the second half.

It doesn’t get easier from here for the Colonials, who face Dayton on the road on Friday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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