Courtside

Your Guide to GW sports

The offseason is only three days old and change is already coming to the men’s basketball team.

Sophomore forward Paris Maragkos has been granted a release to transfer from the program, the athletics department announced Monday.

Then-men's basketball freshman Paris Maragkos competes in Colonial Invasion's military challenge in 2012. Hatchet File Photo

Then-men’s basketball freshman Paris Maragkos competes in Colonial Invasion’s military challenge in 2012. Hatchet File Photo

In his short career at GW, Maragkos averaged 1.1 points and 3.3 minutes over 45 games. The 6-foot-9 forward struggled to find playing time in head coach Mike Lonergan’s rotation, often settling for minimal minutes at the end of games. The Greece native never fully developed into the dynamic player the coaching staff expected and was quickly overshadowed by the maturation of his fellow sophomore teammates.

Maragkos, though, has excelled in the classroom during his two years at GW, twice being named to the Athletic Academic Dean’s List in the past two seasons.

“We’d like to thank Paris for his two years in our program. He was a pleasure to coach and our entire coaching staff and team wish him the best in the future,” head coach Mike Lonergan said in a press release.

Now with an empty roster spot, Lonergan has the ability to bring another high-level transfer to GW, something that he has as done exceptionally well in the past with the additions of senior Isaiah Armwood and graduate student Maurice Creek.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014 6:38 p.m.

Colonials avoid A-10 opening sweep to Saint Joe’s

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

Through six innings of play Sunday, it seemed as though the Colonials were on their way to being swept in their Atlantic 10 opening series, at home against Saint Joseph’s.

After falling in the first two games of the series – 13-1 and 3-1, respectively – the Colonials gave up three early runs in the first three innings. It looked to be an early end for a GW team not hitting.

“It was the fourth inning and I walked over to [junior Ryan Xepoleas] and he was kind of like [with his head down],” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “I said, ‘Hey let’s go, you’re going to get the big hit.’”

A run in the sixth inning and a big hit from Xepoleas in the seventh and GW would go onto win the game 4-3, avoiding the sweep.

Senior Colin Milon delivers a pitch to a Saint Joseph's batter in GW's 4-3 win Sunday over the Hawks. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Senior Colin Milon delivers a pitch to a Saint Joseph’s batter in GW’s 4-3 win Sunday over the Hawks. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

The Colonials leadoff hitter came to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second in a tied game. He quickly fell behind in the count on two-straight off-speed pitches for strikes. The Hawks reliever lost the zone, though, throwing three-straight balls outside. On the next pitch, the crowd froze for a moment as Xepoleas pulled an inside pitch just foul for a would-be home run.

The reliever this time went back outside with a fastball and this time Xepoleas lined it the other way, through the left side of the infield to drive in the go-ahead run.

“I faced him [the Hawk's reliever] yesterday and he threw a couple pitches inside and I was ready for him, so I knew he was going to stay out,” Xepoleas said. “It’s just a mentality thing of being ready for anything and just grinding it out.”

The big seventh inning, which could have been bigger Ritchie said if not for a couple base-running mistakes, helped GW pull off the win.

“The first game was a major debacle and we played really good baseball yesterday, but pieces just didn’t fall together,” Ritchie said. “Just trying to center their focus on execution late in the game.”

After a couple quick of innings thereafter, senior Colin Milon – now part the by-committee closer with senior Craig LeJeune out for the season with Tommy John surgery – in his second inning of work gave up a leadoff double in the ninth. A pop up and a sacrifice fly advanced the Saint Joe’s tying run to third with two outs, but Milon got his next batter to line out to right and the Colonials picked up their first A-10 win of the season.

Sophomore starting pitcher Bobby LeWarne kept the offensively-struggling Colonials in the game. He said he knew he had to go out and throw strikes to give his team a chance of picking up a win. But in the first he gave up one run, in the third another two and by the fourth, he already had 65 pitches.

“On our team, we’re always a threat to score,” said LeWarne, who added he wasn’t worried when they fell behind for the third-straight game. “Pitchers behind me threw even better than me – Jordy [Sheinkop] with the win and Colin with his two innings.”

LeWarne and the pitching staff settled in for the next six innings, allowing only two hits, as the offense came to life for the come-from-behind victory.

Series Recap (1-2):

After a strong start to his season, sophomore Jacob Williams earned himself the opening day slot for conference play. In his two previous starts, the Delaware native allowed no runs in 17 innings – yielding just eight hits.

Against the Hawks, though, Williams exited with a much different line: five innings pitched, eight runs (six earned) on seven hits with over 100 pitches – tagged for the 13-1 conference-opening loss.

GW’s lone run came in the fourth off a hit-by-pitch, steal, error and fielder’s choice to bring in Xepoleas. Not exactly the sequence of a flourishing offense.

Game two faired a bit differently, with the Colonials up 1-0 until the top of the sixth, when senior Aaron Weisberg gave up his first run. Entering the inning he had allowed just two hits, but three singles to leadoff the frame tied the game.

Weisberg wiggled out of further damage, but came back out in the seventh to walk the lead-off hitter on five pitches. Senior Luke Staub came in for relief, but quickly gave up what would be the go-ahead RBI double.

GW would go onto lose 3-1, again with its only support coming by way off small ball – a balk in the first inning, following two fielders choice plays, that brought in Xepoleas.

The Colonials will go onto play Tuesday against UMBC, although weather could hinder the game. GW will then go on the road to face preseason-conference favorite Saint Louis for a three-game series.

“They [Saint Louis] could be favorites, everybody could be favorites, but it’s just about one game,” Ritchie said. “You play to the best of your ability and see if you can sneak out some wins and build the momentum.”

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Saturday, March 22, 2014 8:26 p.m.

Softball can’t keep pace with Fordham offense

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Darius Kamshad.

Saturday’s women’s softball double-header with Fordham University marked the opening games of the Colonials’ campaign for the 2014 Atlantic 10 softball championship, but unfortunately, their bats weren’t quite as prepared.

GW would drop both games to the A-10 defending champion Rams, by scores of 2-0 and 10-2.

Despite a tough start to the season, the Colonials had played extremely well as of late, going 10-2-1 over their last thirteen games and bringing a confident atmosphere to the Mount Vernon Campus.

It was a big day for sophomore Megan Rico, who started the first game for the Colonials on the mound. Fordham, however, drew first blood in the top of the third inning, as two Rams doubles led to an early 2-0 lead.

GW had a chance to respond in the bottom half of the frame, getting its first two batters on base, but three consecutive groundouts spoiled the scoring threat.

There was a spot of drama in the top of the fifth when freshman Marissa Mangini nailed a Fordham player at home plate to keep the score at 2-0.

The Colonials would get one more scoring chance in the bottom of the fifth, as sophomores Carlee Gray and Morgan Matetic both walked to begin the inning, but again, the GW bats would leave its runners stranded.

The first game ended by that final score of 2-0, with Rico taking the loss despite going seven strong innings.

The second game started off similarly, with a few scoring chances for the defending A-10 champions and an eventual 3-0 Rams lead by the top of the second inning. In the bottom half of the inning, GW found itself with the bases loaded, but a final ground out by freshman Madi Myers-Cook returned the team to the bench without any runs.

After that, the Fordham lead kept growing as they failed to take their foot off the gas pedal. By the top of the third inning, it was 5-0.

GW got its first runs across in the bottom of the fourth, when Matetic hit a skyrocketing home run to bring in two runs and make it 5-2.

Fordham came right back, though, and regained its control of the game, pushing across two more in the fifth and another three in the sixth and final inning to bring the game to its final score, 10-2.

Gray would lead the team going 2-3, with Matetic’s homerun being the only run support for Rico, who once again took the loss.

Certainly an extremely tough afternoon to stomach for the Colonials, as their bats that had been hot of late, fell silent.

GW will host UMBC this Tuesday before beginning playing a doubleheader against Massachusetts on Saturday.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014 7:40 p.m.

Women’s tennis can’t keep up with VCU

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Rob Bartnichak.

The women’s tennis team fell to VCU on the road Saturday at the Thalhimer Tennis Center in Richmond, Va., falling by the score of 7-0.

The Rams won all doubles matches to get the early point, and then swept GW in the individual matches. Freshman Taylor Nederlander – competing in the No. 3 spot – would win four games in her match, the most by any Colonial on the day.

The loss brings the Colonials overall record to 4-5 and 2-2 in the Atlantic 10. The Rams came in having lost two straight matches, while GW had won four of its last five, but VCU showed why it was picked to win the A-10 at the start of the season.

“Going into the match, we knew VCU was at a higher level than any team in the conference,” head coach Greg Munoz said. “But I was happy with the way we competed.”

Nederlander lost her match 6-4, 6-1, while senior Leah Pascarella – playing in the No. 1 position – was defeated by No. 72 Cindy Chala 6-1, 6-1. Sophomore Lana Robins lost her match 6-0, 6-3, playing in the No.2 slot.

“I enjoyed the way I competed, but I had a lot of frustrating points,” Robins said. “We just need to take advantage of the opportunities and those big points.”

Despite the defeat, both Munoz and his players saw the match as an opportunity to develop. Despite VCU being at a higher level than his team, Munoz recognized that the Rams are also at a higher level than every other team in the conference. In other words, after seeing how his girls played, the score might have come out different today against other A-10 foes.

“I thought that if the women compete like they did today, we’re going to win every match this year,” Munoz said.

The loss to VCU gives GW back-to-back A-10 losses, as they have not won a conference match since defeating Massachusetts and Fordham in the first week of March.

The team is back in play Sunday morning at 11 a.m. on the road against James Madison. The Colonials next conference matchup will be against Duquesne March 30 in Pittsburgh.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.

Who: GW (22-10) vs. Villanova (23-8)
Where: The Pavillion
When: Sunday, March 23 at 1 p.m.

It’s do or die for the Colonials as they continue their postseason run at Villanova in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament Sunday, having knocked out East Carolina 86-68 at the Smith Center Wednesday.

GW has been nearly unstoppable at the Smith Center this year, but has gone 5-5 on the road. In unfamiliar territory, it will be the Colonials aggressive, high-possession style offense against Villanova’s strong, calculated defense.

Sophomore forward Jonquel Jones charges to the basket earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Sophomore forward Jonquel Jones charges to the basket earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Case for Villanova:

The Wildcats have been hardened through the season by a tough schedule, ranking 50th in RPI according to the NCAA, compared to the Colonials at 72nd.

Absent of a truly dominant scorer, the Wildcats make up for it with nearly flawless protection of the basketball – turning it over less than nine times per game. Villanova’s 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio nearly doubles GW’s.

While Villanova’s play is predicated on their defense, the Wildcats do have ways to make opponents pay offensively, specifically with the three-ball. They average 8.4 buckets from downtown per game and have racked up more than 10 three pointers 11 times this year.

Junior forward Lauren Burford does the most long-range damage, making 2.1 treys per game off 40 percent shooting from behind the arc, but GW should also watch out for junior forward Emily Leer, who went 5-6 from downtown in the Wildcats’ regular-season finale. Her 6-foot-2 frame and sharp-shooting abilities will cause matchup problems for the Colonials frontcourt.

In the Wildcats’ win over Quinnipiac, senior guard Devon Kane surpassed the 1,000 career-point mark. She has been on a role as of late, averaging 13 points per game on the season.

Case for GW:

If GW can push the pace of the game and avoid getting stifled by Wildcat defenders, they have an advantage with the more potent offense. The Colonials score almost 77 points per game, while Villanova scores just under 65.

Additionally, GW’s greatest strength – rebounding – is Villanova’s greatest weakness. The Wildcats get beaten off the boards to the tune of a five-rebound deficit per game. Villanova shoots the ball over 40 percent from the field, so limiting their chances will be key for the Colonials.

Villanova’s versatile, sharp-shooting forwards have been difficult to contain all season, but facing 6-foot-4 Jonquel Jones could be a different story. Taking away the Wildcat’s height advantage, Jones and freshman Caira Washington have also grown more comfortable moving around and not living exclusively in the paint, a key to stick with Villanova’s stretch forwards.

The Villanova defense can be suffocating, holding opponents under 58 points per game, but it only creates a modest 12.1 turnovers per game. This may leave the Colonials some room to play their high-octane transition game without fear of having the ball pilfered away.

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives towards the net during the Colonials first-round WNIT victory against Eastern Carolina University. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives towards the net during the Colonials first-round WNIT victory against Eastern Carolina University. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

With both teams preferring very different tempos, expect the team who better controls the pace of the game to come out with the victory, and move on to the third round, played March 26-28.

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Graduate student guard Maurice Creek played his final game after receiving 10 stitches in the first half. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Graduate student guard Maurice Creek played his final game after receiving 10 stitches in the first half. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

GW fell just one shot short of completing an improbable second-half comeback Friday, falling to the No. 8-seeded Memphis Tigers, 71-66.

Graduate student Maurice Creek got a final look at tying the game, but as many of his shots did at the PNC Arena, it did not fall.

In his final game as a Colonial, senior Isaiah Armwood led his team with 21 points on 9-12 shooting. Along with sophomore Kevin Larsen, who had 16 points, the frontcourt would carry GW all game long.

Memphis responded with an offensive showcase of its own, having no problem with GW’s 1-3-1 defense. The Tigers recorded 19 assists on their way to 49 percent shooting. Senior guard Michael Dixon Jr. led his team with 19 points, while fellow senior guard Joe Jackson would add 15 points and six assists.

Creek missed a large chunk of the first half as he received 10 stitches above his right eye, but would come back as a non-factor for GW. The guard finished with nine points on 2-13 shooting, 2-8 from three.

Down five at the half, the Colonials would amount a strong second-half comeback but would leave 10 points at the line, going 14-24 from the charity stripe.

Check back soon for the full story.

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Friday, March 21, 2014 3:50 p.m.

The Hatchet’s March Madness drinking game

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If you get through the drinking game, make sure, make sure to stay on your feet. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

If you get through the drinking game, make sure, make sure to stay on your feet. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Ben Krimmel, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

NCAA Tournament basketball is magical, especially when your team hasn’t been in the big dance in seven years.

But basketball nirvana is also nerve-wracking. When GW tips off against Memphis, you’ll be an anxious mess. Best take off the edge with plenty of alcohol.

Everybody wins with The Hatchet’s drinking game — a little game to help you get through GW’s first 40 minutes of March Madness.

Take a drink:

If the announcers make any political reference.

When your mom texts you asking if you are watching the game.

Every time Nemanja Mikic dribbles the ball.

Whenever announcers mention GW’s win over Creighton.

Every time a GW player pump-fakes.

Get a second drink:

If Charles Barkley says something outlandish.

Take a shot:

Any time President Barack Obama or the White House is mentioned.

Every time Mike Lonergan is shown doing a silly hand motion.

Whenever Isaiah Armwood dunks.

For every Patricio Garino steal.

Every time the announcers wax poetic about Maurice Creek’s comeback.

Finish your drink:

If anybody mentions their bracket being busted.

Stand in the shower and shotgun a Natural Ice:

Any time the announcers say Georgetown instead of GW.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writers Nora Princiotti and Josh Solomon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSqZPhidt7I

Point guard Danni Jackson swung a pass across the court to Megan Nipe, setting up her teammate in front of the GW bench – in front of one of their last Smith Center crowds.

Jackson watched as her fellow graduate student loaded up and knocked down her third trey of the night, then crouched down, wound up and exploded with a big fist pump. The Colonials lead was back to double digits.

“At that point I knew this is our game,” Jackson said. “They had no answer for her [Nipe] tonight.”

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives towards the net during the Colonials first-round WNIT victory against Eastern Carolina University. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives towards the net during the Colonials first-round WNIT victory against Eastern Carolina University. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Nipe would finish with a team-high 20 points, leading GW over East Carolina 86-68 for its first postseason win since 2008, when the team made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

“It feels awesome,” Jackson said. “I don’t know whether to cry or…”

“She’s not going to cry. She’s fine,” Nipe quickly joked back.

Despite the 18-point victory, the Colonials had trouble closing out the Conference USA team who had made the WNIT just last season. A 17-point first half lead had dwindled all the way down to a one-point game with 10-and-a-half minutes to go in the second half.

Junior forward Shae Nelson led the Pirates’ surge, hitting three-consecutive three-point shots during the run. She finished with a game-high 23 points off the bench and on the defensive side, frustrated GW’s bigs until finally fouling out with just over a minute to play.

A 6-0 GW run, though, and a couple key defensive stops against the physical Pirates team helped the Colonials to never look back. GW would outshoot ECU 43.9 to 31.6 percent from the field, with its frontcourt ultimately earning the advantage, 40-26.

Pirate’s star guard Jada Payne tried to will her team to victory, recording a double-double with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis said the Colonials tempered the Pirates’ long-range success with an even more aggressive hands-in-your-face defense. On four of five of ECU’s first half threes, Tsipis said, GW defenders were caught with their hands down.

“We went out there and locked down on defense. We then got the stop and we scored on the other end and it just gave us our confidence back,” Jackson said. “That’s all we kept saying anyway: we’re fine, we’re fine, we’re fine.”

On the other end of the court, Jackson was one of four Colonials to join Nipe in double figures, with 18 points. Freshman Caira Washington had 14, while junior Chakecia Miller and sophomore Jonquel Jones each added 10.

Miller returned to the lineup in full-force after injuring her back in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals last week. She was limited against Dayton in the semifinals, but was able to join Jackson in what she calls the “best duo in the backcourt in the A-10.”

The duo will now head up to Philadelphia to face Villanova in the second round of the WNIT Sunday at 1 p.m.

“We write on the board ‘one plus,’” said Tsipis about every playoff game. “With each ‘one plus’ that you earn, there are less and less people in this country playing right now and I think our kids are really excited about that.”

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014 10:15 a.m.

Fomin leads men’s tennis turnaround

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Aaron Esparza.

During its recent 7-1 stretch, the men’s tennis team has collectively scored 33 points to 13, taken down four nationally ranked opponents and ascended to No. 54 in the national rankings, all while playing every game on the road.

Despite this recent surge, this is still a team that painfully remembers where they were just a month ago when they were a struggling unranked squad at 1-4.

Since then, under the veteran leadership of senior Nikita Fomin – who was named Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week for the second time this season Tuesday – this team has more than rebounded, using a carefully balanced offense that doesn’t look to be slowing down.

The dominant offense of the past month has found its strength in starting each match with a superb showing in doubles play. Behind the efforts of the No. 57 duo – freshman Julius Tverijonas and junior Francisco Dias – the combo of sophomore Danil Zelenkov and Fomin and the senior pair of Viktor Svensson and Ulrik Thomsen, the Colonials are able to get the early edge on their opponents.

Together the team has taken home the doubles point in six of its last eight games, compared to just twice during the Colonial’s early 1-4 start.

In singles, the team has received valuable contributions throughout the roster, but no one has been more crucial to the team’s sudden turnaround than Fomin.

Starting the season, Fomin struggled at at the No. 1 spot. He relinquished the coveted slot to play at No. 2, couldn’t find a groove and remained winless in the first five matches.

Dropping once again to the No. 3 spot, he finally got hot. Against Old Dominion he grabbed a 6-2, 6-0 victory and since then, has gone undefeated in the last eight tilts, leading to back-to-back A-10 Performer of the Week awards.

The Colonials will look to continue their run this weekend at their home opener against Morgan State on Saturday.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014 9:11 p.m.

Women’s basketball begins journey to WNIT crown

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.

Who:

GW (21-10) vs. East Carolina (22-8)

When: Wednesday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Where: Smith Center

How many more times will Megan Nipe and Danni Jackson suit up as Colonials?

GW begins postseason play in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament Wednesday in a first-round game against East Carolina University.

Should the Colonials win, they would move on to the second round to meet the winner of Villanova/Quinnipiac and would likely get one more game at the Smith Center.

Lose, and the doors on this surprisingly successful season – its best in six years – will finally close.

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives past a Dayton defender in GW's 88-79 upset earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives past a Dayton defender in GW’s 88-79 upset earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Case for East Carolina:

The Lady Pirates have only garnered a WNIT bid three times in program history, but this year will make it back-to-back seasons. Total minutes of post season tournament play favors ECU 177-0.

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis said ECU is similar to his GW team in some aspects: athleticism, varied defenses and offensive rebounding.

The Lady Pirates opened the season 21-3, but then dropped the last four of five regular-season games and were booted in their first game of the Conference USA tournament. The Pirates were upset by the No. 13 seed FIU, 87-75.

Redshirt sophomore Jada Payne leads ECU in scoring with 18.8 points per game. The 6-foot-2 forward was the only underclassmen to be named to the All-Conference USA first team. Her versatility – also leading the team in rebounds with 7.4 per game and shooting nearly 40 percent from three-point range – will make her a tough player for the Colonials to contain.

Junior Ondrea Shaw defines the Pirates’ defense, ranking eighth in the nation with 3.4 blocks per game. She broke a single-season blocking record set in 1978 with 98 total blocks this season and has helped her defense limit opponents to just 26.6 percent three-point shooting, 10th best in the NCAA.

ECU will give GW a run for its money in the Colonials greatest area of strength: rebounding. GW is unaccustomed to playing opponents who can keep pace on the boards, but the Pirates actually best them in rebounding margin by half a rebound per game.

Case for GW:

Home is certainly sweet for the Colonials, who are 13-3 at the Smith Center, while ECU has gone just 7-5 when playing on the road. Tsipis said that he requested the game be slated for Wednesday – the first day first-round games are played – so that GW fans will not have left for Raleigh, NC to see the men’s team in the NCAA tournament.

The Colonials and the Pirates have shared just one opponent during the regular season: George Mason. Both teams got wins, but GW showed more dominance, averaging a 21-point margin of victory in two games against the Patriots while, ECU topped them by just nine points at home.

Where the two teams have not shared opponents, GW has faced stronger teams. GW ranks 72nd nationwide in RPI while ECU is ranked 94th, according to the NCAA standings.

After a back injury in the A-10 tournament, the question of junior guard and All-Defensive team member Chakecia Miller is still up in the air. Tsipis said she is a gametime decision, but has looked significantly better, especially in the last two days.

Graduate student Brooke Wilson, who has been out since sustaining an injury against Fordham Feb. 8, will suit up for the game although still being doubtful.

After finding out the matchup late Monday night, Tsipis has done as much as he can to prepare his team for these Lady Pirates. Following their one practice before the game, he was still holding onto the scouting report.

“This becomes a one-game season now,” Tsipis said. “We want to be able to do things with it [the postseason berth], to take another step forward with our program and to be able to hold serve on our court as we’ve done most of the year.”

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