Courtside

Your Guide to GW sports

Freshman Robbie Metz throws a pitch during a win against Georgetown earlier this season. Metz threw seven shutout innings, with four hits and eight strikeouts in the no decision but the Colonials dropped a game to Long Beach State 6-0. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Freshman Robbie Metz throws a pitch during a win against Georgetown earlier this season. Metz threw seven shutout innings, with four hits and eight strikeouts in the no decision, but the Colonials dropped a game to Long Beach State 6-0. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

It was scoreless into the eighth inning.

The fans sitting under the lights in Northridge, Calif. had yet to see a run scored. It was an old-fashioned pitchers duel between the ace of the staff: a redshirt senior for the powerhouse and a freshman fresh off his third conference Rookie of the Week honors in the young season.

One of the youngest teams in the nation, the Colonials took the trip out to California to gauge if their early success was real.

At 7-3, they were off to their hottest start in decades – since 1983, when head coach Gregg Ritchie was a freshman. They faced a Long Beach State program that finished the season in the NCAA Regionals last year.

Then one run scored in a two-out rally for the Dirtbags. Then an error led to a couple more. And then a few more.

GW allowed one earned run to Long Beach State but fell to the Dirtbags 6-0.

By the end of Wednesday night, they would drop their fourth game of the season before heading to Cal State Northridge for a three-game series. But the Colonials showed some lukewarm signs of maturity.

“If you just looked at the box score, it would tell you, OK we got handily beat. And it was so far from the truth,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “We pushed a regional team that has more major leaguers in the big leagues right now than any other program in the nation, and they had to put everything up against us, which says a lot about the development of a program.”

All six runs were scored in the eighth, when sophomore Eddie Muhl came in to relieve Robbie Metz. The rookie threw seven shutout innings, with four hits and eight strikeouts in the no decision.

In the second inning, Metz picked up his shortstop after sophomore Kevin Mahala committed a throwing error. He fielded the ball off the mound and started a double play to end the early threat. After a wild pitch in the third, Metz struck out the next batter with a runner 90 feet from home.

“This is what makes Robbie special in my mind,” Ritchie said. “The maturity level of his own self-evaluation. At one point in the game he said, ‘I just don’t have command of my fastball very good today.’”

Metz retired the last 11 batters he faced. He found his command through the game, particularly with his curveball, burying it and going back to back with it to fool the Dirtbags hitters.

When Muhl came in, he had no such luck, though he retired the first two batters to start the eighth.

A single through the left side and a walk to the next batter opened the floodgates. A couple batters later, with one run in already, sophomore Bobby Campbell – playing his first game back at third base this season after starting there for most of last season – committed a throwing error. Two runs scored. A couple more singles and a total of six runs scored in the inning, all with two outs.

“You can’t just go, ‘Hey, you played a good game,’ because we just made some mistakes,” Ritchie said. “You also have to tell them, ‘Hey, that’s unacceptable what you did because it was a lack of preparation or a lack of mental skill. Not physical skills, mental skill.’”

GW wasn’t without scoring opportunities. In the third, a lead-off single was wasted after a double play line out on the next play. In the sixth, a lead-off walk was squandered after a pick-off play by the catcher threw out the runner at second.

To close the game, the Colonials left the bases loaded in the ninth in a makeshift rally: infield error, hit by pitch, hit by pitch. The Colonials couldn’t scratch a run, with a strikeout and a game-ending double play.

“We just need to learn how to play with a championship-level heartbeat at that point of the game, which we sped up a little bit,” Ritchie said. “And that’s experience, that’s demanding it being done as well and expecting more of yourself.”

“Over the couple years I’ve been here, we would not have competed like that against a team of this quality. No chance,” Ritchie added. “We would not have competed that well. We’re definitely moving forward.”

GW will pick up play in a three-game series starting Friday at 2 p.m against Cal State Northridge. Sophomore Bobby Campbell is the probable starter.

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Joe McDonald drives to the basket in the Colonials' victory over Duquesne. McDonald finished with 12 points in the 73-55 victory. Dan Rich | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Joe McDonald drives to the basket in the Colonials’ victory over Duquesne. McDonald finished with 12 points in the 73-55 win. Dan Rich | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Up against the second-highest scoring offense in the Atlantic 10, it was GW that was able to knock down shots when it counted.

Behind an impressive offensive team effort, No. 6-seed GW took down No. 11-seed Duquesne 73-55 in the second round of the A-10 Championship on Thursday night at the Barclays Center.

“I thought both teams shot the ball very well from the outside, and we did a very good job rebounding the ball,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “I’m happy for our guys. This is an important game for us.”

Junior guards Joe McDonald and Patricio Garino, and freshman forward Yuta Watanabe co-led GW with 12 points each. Junior forward Kevin Larsen padded the effort with his play down low, adding a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

The Colonials got off to a fast start, jumping to a 7-0 lead in the game’s opening minutes. Watanabe led his team with a half-high 10 points, and GW shot at a 55.6 percent clip from the field in the first half.

“Today I just tried to play hard,” Watanabe said. “I had a good game against UMass, so I had confidence. I just tried to keep shooting.”

Sharp three-point shooting was also on display for the Colonials, who were perfect on their first four attempts from long range and finished the half going 8-12. McDonald sank three from beyond the arc to follow Watanabe with nine points in the half.

Behind Larsen’s seven first-half rebounds, GW dominated the boards in the first frame, out-rebounding the Dukes 18-10. Lonergan also got his bench involved early, as eight different Colonials would put up points in the half.

Junior forward Jeremiah Jones had three of Duquesne’s five field goals from deep to guide his team with nine first-half points, but the Dukes would shoot just 40 percent from the field in the frame. Though they had just three turnovers, a weak rebounding effort and a hot GW offense left Duquesne with a 40-27 deficit at halftime.

“I think for me it’s just shot preparation,” McDonald said. “Our assistant coach, Maurice Joseph, has done a good job getting us ready and just keeping our confidence high with the shot, and he always says, ‘Be shot ready.’”

But the Dukes would not go quietly. Junior guard Micah Mason turned it on and hit a whopping five threes in the second half to finish the contest with a game-high 22 points.

While Mason was getting hot early in the second, the Colonials began to cool off. GW was ahead by as much as 15, but midway through the second half, it found its lead cut to as few as four points.

“We knew [Mason] was a big matchup. He gets hot really quick. He really knows how to shoot,” Garino said. “Even though he had 22 points, we contained the whole team.”

Up 50-46, a strong play down low by senior forward John Kopriva, who finished the night with a healthy nine points and six rebounds, earned the team’s lone fourth-year a bucket and a free throw with a drawn foul. The three-point play began an 11-point GW run that helped the Colonials weather the Dukes’ offensive onslaught.

Following the double-digit run, GW never looked back. Seven points from junior guard Kethan Savage helped GW outscore the Dukes’ bench 18-0 to round out the Colonials’ scoring as the team coasted to the 18-point victory.

“I probably should have called a timeout. We had a few 10-second violations, which was kind of shocking,” Lonergan said. “We knew they’d make a run. Basketball is a game of runs, so I’m glad we survived it.”

Despite a game that was decided by outside shooting, the Colonials outscored the Dukes 32-16 in the paint and edged Duquesne 44-30 on the glass after a strong team rebounding effort.

GW continues its A-10 Championship run against No. 3-seed Rhode Island on Friday at 9 p.m.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015 10:52 a.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball vs. Duquesne

What: Atlantic 10 tournament, second round, No. 6 men’s basketball (20-11, 10-8 A-10) vs. No. 11 Duquesne (11-18, 6-12 A-10)
When: Thursday, March 12 at 9 p.m.
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Hot off a commanding 87-65 victory over Massachusetts to close out the regular season, the Colonials roll into Brooklyn for a second-round showdown against Duquesne.

Behind a career seven three-pointers from freshman forward Yuta Watanabe in the team’s season finale, GW concluded an up-and-down season on a high note and should enter the postseason with some confidence.

Duquesne also enters Thursday’s matchup on the heels of a win, taking down No. 14 Saint Louis 61-55 in the first round. The six-point victory was the Dukes’ first A-10 tournament win in six years.

The Colonials were able to handily defeat Duquesne 74-59 at home on Jan. 24, but fell to the Dukes in Pittsburgh 78-62 just a few weeks later in a season-altering loss. With both teams fighting to keep a season alive and take on No. 3 Rhode Island on Friday, this rubber match could go either way.

The case for Duquesne:
Despite a subpar regular season record, the Dukes never had a problem producing offense this year. Duquesne had the second-best scoring offense and three-point field goal percentage in the A-10, averaging 72.3 points per game and a 36.7 percent clip from beyond the arc.

Junior guards Derrick Colter and Micah Mason, who averaged 13.2 and 12.2 points per game, respectively, lead the high-powered offense. GW held the pair to a combined 20 points in January, but an improved shooting effort in the teams’ most recent meeting allowed the duo to combine for a crippling 42 points.

Improved defense will be the key for Duquesne, a team that finished with the worst scoring defense in the league this year, conceding an average of 75 points per game.

But a solid two-three zone and 12 blocked shots last night against the Bilikens could give the Dukes the confidence they need on the defensive end. To advance, Duquesne must continue locking down the paint and keep quiet GW’s threats down low.

The case for GW:
While their opponent was one of the worst defensive teams in the A-10 this regular season, the Colonials were one of the best. Conceding an average of 61.3 points and 32.2 rebounds per game, and averaging 4.0 blocks and 5.6 steals per game, GW should be able to frustrate the Dukes’ offense.

Offensively, junior guard Patricio Garino leads three other Colonials averaging double figures in scoring with 12.3 points per game. Junior guards Kethan Savage and Joe McDonald posted an average of 11.4 and 10.2 points per game, respectively, with McDonald adding a team-high average of 3.1 assists per game.

Junior forward Kevin Larsen leads the Colonials’ fervent rebounding effort by averaging 7.0 boards per game, tenth-best in the conference. GW finished with a league-leading +4.3 rebounding margin and will need strong play on the glass to overpower Duquesne.

If multiple Colonials get going offensively and the team can play a sturdy 40 minutes defensively, the No. 6 seed can easily avenge its February road loss.

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Members of the men's basketball team and coach Mike Lonergan's family pose with the Diamond Head Classic championship trophy after defeating No. 11 Wichita State 60-54. Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Members of the men’s basketball team and coach Mike Lonergan’s family pose with the Diamond Head Classic championship trophy after defeating then-No. 11 Wichita State 60-54 in December. File Photo by Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Three men’s basketball players earned Atlantic 10 postseason honors, the league announced Tuesday.

Junior forward Kevin Larsen was named to the All-Conference Third Team, while junior guard Patricio Garino was selected for the All-Defensive Team for the second consecutive season. Senior forward John Kopriva was again named to the All-Academic Team in his final year at GW.

Larsen finished the regular season averaging 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds per game. The 6-foot-9 big man ranked fifth in the A-10 in offensive rebounding, posting an average of 3.1 per game, and also added 1.1 blocks per game, the ninth best in the conference.

Garino’s average of 1.8 steals per game was the third best in the league, and 55 steals this season tied the junior with Danilo Pinnock for fifth all-time at GW with 164 career takeaways. Despite receiving recognition for his defensive achievements, the Mar del Plata, Argentina native also finished as the Colonials’ top scorer, averaging 12.3 points per game in the 2014-15 campaign.

A 3.93 cumulative GPA made Kopriva the fourth GW player to earn multiple All-Academic Team distinctions. The chemistry major’s award also extends the Colonials’ conference-record All-Academic Team total to 16 selections since the award debuted in 1991. GW’s lone fourth-year averaged 6.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in the team’s 20-win season.

GW (20-11, 10-8 A-10) begins the postseason Thursday in the second round of the A-10 tournament at 9 p.m. The No. 6 Colonials await the winner of a Wednesday matchup between No. 11 Duquesne and No. 14 Saint Louis.

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Bobbie LeWarne throws a pitch earlier in the season. File Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Bobbie LeWarne throws a pitch earlier in the season. File Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

The baseball team had an eventful start to spring break, taking a series over Manhattan, picking up a pair of Atlantic 10 conference weekly awards and getting ready for a road swing through California. Here’s what happened around the horn for the Colonials this weekend.

Weekend series:
The Colonials won two of three games against Manhattan over the weekend to bring them to 7-3 on the season, the team’s best start since 1983 – when their current head coach Gregg Ritchie was in his first season as a Colonial.

In the first game of the series, junior Bobby LeWarne continued his hot start. The Colonials won 3-1, with LeWarne improving to 3-0 on the season. He went seven innings, using 105 pitches to strike out seven and walk none.

LeWarne retired the last 12 batters he faced before the dominant duo in the bullpen came in to close out the game. Redshirt senior Craig LeJeune retired the three batters he faced in the eighth with 12 pitches and two strikeouts. Sophomore Eddie Muhl picked up his third save of the season on nine pitches and one strikeout.

The Manhattan starter threw a complete game, but gave up two runs too many. GW scored the go-ahead run in the fifth. Sophomore shortstop Kevin Mahala doubled down the left field line to lead off the inning. He was then bunted over to third. Freshman Robbie Metz continued his tear at the plate with an RBI single to third base on a 1-2 pitch. Mahala would score the third and final run in the seventh after singling up the middle.

The second and third games in the series were played as a part of a doubleheader Sunday. GW won the first game 8-4 and dropped the second 10-3.

The bullpen pieced together the first game, combining for 6.2 innings with junior Jacob Williams picking up the win. Sophomore Jordan Sheinkop got the start, but only lasted 2.1 innings after yielding three runs on two hits and two walks. Two of those runs were inherited after Sheinkop left the game with two runners on. Williams came in and gave up a three-run home run.

Freshman Brady Renner came in and stopped the bleeding, throwing three innings of one-hit ball. LeJeune finished the final inning with three strikeouts.

GW scored in five of eight innings at the plate, including three runs in the first two innings and a three spot in the fifth. Mahala homered to lead off the fifth inning. Junior Matthieu Robert went 3-4 with two RBI and one run scored, including an RBI double to right center in the second inning after a seven pitch at bat. Sophomore Andrew Selby also went 3-4, with two runs scored. The top three hitters in the lineup each collected two hits.

Junior College transfer Shane Kemp picked up his first start in the backend of the doubleheader. The junior lasted three-plus innings, giving up three runs on three hits and two walks to pick up the loss.

The three runs came in the fourth, which started with a hit batsman on a 3-0 pitch, a walk on four straight balls and a single to left punctuated by an error from sophomore Joey Bartosic, allowing one run to score. Unable to record an out, sophomore Andrew Piccin came in and after striking out the first batter, was tagged with a triple to left center to score the final two of the inning.

Following Piccin’s fourth inning, the bullpen didn’t help keep the Colonials in the game, giving up seven runs between four pitchers. Down 4-1 entering the eighth inning, GW gave up four runs, three credited to freshman Kevin Hodgson.

Metz and sophomore Eli Kashi both picked up two hits. Kashi drove in the Colonials’ lone earned run. The other two scored on errors.

A-10 awards:
Robbie Metz was named Rookie of the Week for the third time in four weeks of awards. GW did not play in the week he did not win because of weather.

Metz won his first game on the mound with a 5-1 win over Georgetown on Wednesday. He pitched seven innings, giving up one run on six hits. In that game, he went 2-3 with one RBI, one run scored and two stolen bases.

In the week, Metz batted .571 (8-14) with three RBI, two runs, two stolen bases and one double – plus the win on the mound.

Bobby LeWarne earned Co-Pitcher of the Week honors. It marked the second time in his career that he’s won the recognition. His start Saturday earned him his third win on the season. He retired the last 12 hitters he faced, including striking out the side in his final inning of work.

Spring break in Cali:
GW travels to Los Angeles to start their spring break road swing through California. They will play four games while on the West Coast.

The Colonials will face stronger competition in the Golden State than they have faced so far this season. The road trip will not only serve as a place for warm weather and team bonding, but as a litmus test for the young team’s College World Series goal.

GW will face perennial powerhouse Long Beach State at 9 p.m. EST on Wednesday. The team will then travel to Cal State Northridge for a three-game series beginning Friday.

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The Colonials celebrate winning the Atlantic 10 regular season title on March 1. GW defeated Dayton Sunday to win the conference postseason title, the program's first since 2003. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

The Colonials celebrate winning the Atlantic 10 regular season title on March 1. GW defeated Dayton on Sunday to win the conference postseason title, the program’s first since 2003. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rob Bartnichak.

For the first time since 2003, No. 21 women’s basketball is the Atlantic 10 tournament champion.

GW defeated Dayton 75-62 for the third time this season to take the championship in Richmond. The win also gives the Colonials an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and sets the record for the most wins in a season in program history.

“They’re a very resilient bunch,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “When you get them all on the same page, it’s amazing the things you can accomplish.”

Junior forward Jonquel Jones led the game with 21 points and added six rebounds.

Sophomore Hannah Schaible led the game with 11 rebounds and tallied seven points. Sophomore Caira Washington recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Colonials went into the half down 37-29 and on the wrong side of a 17-11 Dayton run over the final 10:34.

GW came out of the locker room to score the first eight of 10 points in the second half and brought the game back even. Senior Chakecia Miller had six of those points.

The Colonials were able to build a double-digit lead after Jones scored seven-straight points with 10:47 left. The game did not get closer than eight points, as GW outscored Dayton 46-25 in the second half.

“The first thing we said after the half was that we didn’t want anything that we didn’t have to work for,” Jones said. “This game definitely made us work for it.”

The Colonials shot 42 percent from the field for the game and held Dayton to 36 percent. GW dominated on the glass, out-rebounding the Flyers 56-43 and holding a 32-22 scoring advantage in the paint. The team also outscored Dayton 23-7 on the second chance.

One of the biggest differences for the Colonials between the first and second halves was turnovers. In the first half, GW turned over the ball 15 times, which led to 17 Dayton points. But then GW gave up zero points on only six turnovers in the second half.

“I felt that it would be a game of runs,” Tsipis said about the first half. “Every game this year against Dayton, we’ve had to battle for runs.”

Despite Jones missing significant time in the first half because of foul trouble, the Colonials still out-rebounded the Flyers 29-17. They also held a 18-14 scoring advantage in the paint and a 9-2 advantage on the second chance.

But Dayton shot 48 percent from the field, including 4-10 from beyond the arc. GW shot only 33 percent in the first half. Miller led GW in the first half with six points. Washington led all players with seven rebounds.

The Colonials now await their NCAA Tournament seed. The first round of the tournament begins March 20.

“Today is a great day to celebrate,” Jones said. “We just want to keep playing at this level going in the NCAA tournament.”

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It was senior day at the Smith Center on Saturday, and while lone fourth-year forward John Kopriva posted an impressive 12 points and four rebounds, it was a GW freshman who stole the show.

Freshman forward Yuta Watanabe hit a career-high seven three-pointers to finish with 21 points and four rebounds, as four more Colonials went on to score in double figures en route to a dominant 87-65 victory over Massachusetts.

“We made shots today,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “I wanted John to win on senior day. He’s done a lot for our program… He played great, our team played great and it’s nice to see us put the ball in the basket.”

The Colonials’ bench followed closely behind, as junior guard Kethan Savage put up 13 points and five rebounds, while freshman guard Paul Jorgensen added 12, going 2-2 from three-point range in the 22-point win.

A slow start for the Colonials allowed the Minutemen to jump to a 14-9 lead midway through the first half. Turnover woes seemed to plague the home team early, but GW soon found its composure and began rolling offensively.

“We were sluggish for the first three minutes, and it surprised me,” Lonergan said. “I took Yuta out after about a minute to talk to him and put Kethan in. We turned the ball over a few times, but then we played great after that.”

Sharp shooting, fittingly sparked by a pair of threes from Kopriva, became contagious. Watanabe would lead the half with 12 points as five different Colonials contributed to a whopping nine first-half three-pointers.

A 65.5 percent clip from the field and only five turnovers in the first frame helped the Colonials secure a commanding 50-28 lead heading into halftime. GW would also finish the night with 19 crucial assists, two shy of its season-high, with efficient passing that led to good looks.

“We were struggling in February, holding the ball and dribbling too much trying to create too many shots on our own, individually, and that’s not our strength,” Lonergan said. “Our guys really shared the ball today, and hopefully they see that we can be successful when we play as a team.”

The second half would bring much of the same, as GW kept up its offensive onslaught while Massachusetts struggled to get anything going. Watanabe would knock down three more from beyond the arc to round off a GW offense that shot 60 percent from the field and 77.8 percent from three on the day.

“[Yuta] kept his confidence the whole time. Truthfully, it pushed me,” Kopriva said. “You see him hitting the shots, and [I think], ‘I’ve got to make some shots myself’… He’s a key part of our team.”

The Colonials also held the Minutemen to just 39.3 percent from the field with a strong defensive effort, as Massachusetts turned the ball over 11 times in the contest and shot just 26.3 percent from three.

The win also secured GW a No. 6 spot in the Atlantic 10 tournament next week. The Colonials will return to action Thursday night at 9 p.m.

“Once we had the win secure, I got to walk off to a standing ‘o’ from the crowd. That was pretty special,” Kopriva said. “It’s been a great place to me, great to go out on a win, but we don’t want this to end. We’ve got to keep it going.”

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Junior Jonquel Jones jumps for a layup in the Colonials 70-48 win over St. Bonaventure Sunday. Jones posted her fifteenth double-double of the season with 17 rebounds and 13 points. Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

Junior forward Jonquel Jones jumps for a layup in the Colonials’ 70-48 win over St. Bonaventure earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo by Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

RICHMOND – Some teams struggle in the second half after a back-and-forth battle to start off the game.

GW is not one of those teams.

The Colonials sent themselves to the Atlantic 10 finals with a 72-60 victory over Fordham in the Richmond Coliseum on Saturday.

The game was a remarkable parallel to GW’s win over Saint Louis on Friday.

Like Friday’s game, the Colonials had to battle tooth-and-nail with their A-10 foe for the entirety of the first half.

“They’re the defending champions,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “They’re not going to go out without a fight.”

In Saturday’s game, Fordham and GW exchanged the lead throughout the first half, marking the first time the Colonials have trailed in the young postseason.

And like the game against Saint Louis, GW came out of the gate hot in the second half. The Colonials scored 13 points in the first 5:21 of the half, putting the distance they needed between themselves and the Rams.

“We got into halftime and we felt some things had worked well,” Tsipis said. “You saw us when we’re at our best at the start of the second half.”

The Colonials had four players score in double digits. Junior forward Jonquel Jones and sophomore guard Hannah Schaible both had 16 points, and Jones pulled down 15 boards, her 19th double-double of the season.

Jones’ frontcourt mate Caira Washington had 10 points, and fellow starter Chakecia Miller rounded out the high scorers with 11.

A noticeable difference between the two games was the physicality of Saturday’s contest. If at first glance spectators thought it was closer to a football game than a basketball game, they’d be forgiven.

GW and Fordham combined for 47 fouls throughout the game, and players dove for every loose ball on the court.

“Both very physical teams, both with very strong, passionate basketball players,” Schaible said. “You’re playing for a lot, so you’ll do anything to have the outcome in your favor.”

The number of fouls ultimately benefitted GW. Fordham’s big, Samantha Clark, had to return to the bench in the first with three fouls. Before she sat, Clark scored nine in the first half.

Clark and another Fordham starter, Emily Tapio, would then both foul out late in the second half in quick succession, dampening Fordham’s chances of making a late push. Before they both fouled out, the two combined for 22 points.

Fordham’s fouling in the first half also sent GW to the line 16 times, and they made the Rams pay for it. They sank 13 of their first-half shots from the charity stripe compared to the four the Rams hit.

But one concern for the Colonials was Jones, who was seen limping off the court late in the game after her team had all but locked in the victory.

“This is an opportunity to play for a championship,” Tsipis said. “She’ll be ready to go tomorrow. Just precautionary, there was no need to have her in there in the end.”

They’ll be no rest for the weary, as the Colonials will look to capture their first conference championship since 2003 on Sunday. They will face the winner of Dayton and Duquesne’s semifinal game Saturday.

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Saturday, March 7, 2015 9:37 a.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball vs. Massachusetts

What: Men’s basketball (19-11, 9-8 A-10) vs. Massachusetts (17-13, 10-7 A-10)

When: Saturday March 7 at 3:30 p.m.

Where: Smith Center

For the last time this season the Colonials return to the Smith Center for a senior day match up with Massachusetts. The team will honor lone senior John Kopriva Saturday before what could be his final game in Foggy Bottom.

GW enters its regular season finale hot off a commanding 67-51 win at George Mason. Junior guard Patricio Garino posted 15 points and nine rebounds in the victory, while freshman guard Paul Jorgensen added 11 second-half points off the bench.

After winning six straight, Massachusetts has dropped four of its last five games. Most recently the Minutemen fell in a close 56-53 decision to Richmond Wednesday night and will look to snag one last win before heading to Brooklyn next week.

With Massachusetts currently in sixth-place, one game ahead of GW, Saturday’s contest will be a battle for the No. 6 seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Depending on the outcome of Fordham and St. Bonaventure’s game the same day, a Colonials’ loss will leave GW looking at either a No. 7 or No. 8 seed.

The Case for Massachusetts:

Four Minutemen are averaging double figures in scoring, led by senior center Cady Lalanne who is posting a team-high 11.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

Following closely behind are senior forward Maxie Esho, averaging 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, and junior guard Trey Davis, averaging 11.3 points. Junior guard Derrick Gordon’s 10.0 points round out a Minutemen offense that is averaging 69.5 points per game, fourth-best in the A-10.

Massachusetts also holds the fourth-best assist average in the conference with 13.7 per game, and commands the boards with an average of 25.0 defensive rebounds, the second best in the A-10 after Davidson.

Defensively the Minutemen concede more points than GW, but lead the Colonials in other areas. The road team averages 4.3 blocks to GW’s 4.0 and 6.9 steals to the Colonials’ 5.6.

The Case for GW:

While their opponent averages more points per game, the Colonials are shooting more efficiently: going 44 percent from the field to Massachusetts’ 43.5 percent.

Each member of the junior core-four is averaging double figures in scoring, with Garino leading the team with 12.5 points per game. Garino’s return to form at George Mason, as well as improved bench production, bodes well for the Colonials who will enter their final home game with confidence.

The Colonials also hold the edge defensively; allowing just 61.1 points per game while Massachusetts concedes an average of 69.7. Additionally, GW has the overall rebounding advantage, averaging an A-10 best +4.6 rebounding margin to the Minutemen’s +1.9.

With a No. 6 seed on the line expect both teams to play aggressively in order to gain some momentum heading into next week. If the Colonials can limit turnovers, shoot well at home and play team defense like they did at George Mason, the team can easily wrap up its regular season with a win.

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Caption. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

The Colonials will move on to the A-10 tournament semifinals after defeating Saint Louis 77-63 on Friday. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

RICHMOND – It was a tale of two halves in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament for the women’s basketball team, which ultimately went on to defeat Saint Louis 77-63 on Friday.

The Colonials knew they wouldn’t have an easy path through the A-10 tournament after the Billikens knocked off VCU on Thursday – and it showed in the first half.

GW and Saint Louis, the only team to take down the Colonials during conference play, battled for the entire first frame.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was some extra motivation,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “Just because when you finish the regular season with one conference loss and you happen to be playing that same team, I’d be lying.”

The Colonials never gave up the lead, but they couldn’t put any real distance between themselves and their opponent in the first half. Saint Louis matched nearly every shot GW took, pulling even at one point midway through the half and never trailing by more than eight.

The X factor for the Colonials in the first was sophomore forward Caira Washington, who led the offense for much of that frame, scoring 14 points and pulling down seven boards. She would finish the game with 24 points and was a rebound shy of a double-double.

“[I was] just getting into the right spots,” Washington said. “They were bringing two to double [frontcourt mate Jonquel Jones], and I just make my moves as quickly as possible. That worked for me today.”

The game started to shift GW’s way almost as soon as the buzzer went off signaling the start of the second half.

Behind the strong game of GW’s two bigs, sophomore guard Hannah Schaible had a good game, tying Jones with 14 points and dishing out five assists.

“As the game moved along, more and more people contributed for us,” Tsipis said. “Hannah Schaible was really good, a huge three-pointer in the first half. As we closed the first half, it gave us the same mentality as we started the second half.”

Washington had two steals early in the second, which helped swing momentum in the direction of the Colonials. They didn’t take their foot off the gas, while Saint Louis, whose starters all played significant minutes in their win over VCU, began to slow down early.

GW would hold the lead by as much as 19 midway through the half, anchored by continued strong play from Washington and a good second half from junior forward Jones.

Jones met her season average of a double-double per game, with 14 points and 15 rebounds, and most of that came in the second frame.

Saint Louis tried to launch a late comeback, but with about 3:30 remaining, a thunderous block from Jones and a steal from senior guard Chakecia Miller a minute later were enough to slow down the Billikens.

Saint Louis would bring it as close as seven, but the Colonials had built up enough of a lead that they were able to weather the late run.

As time wound down, the Colonials kept enough distance to force Saint Louis to foul. GW twisted the knife from the charity stripe, hitting free throws late and 81 percent for the day.

Dominance on the boards was also crucial for the Colonials: They grabbed 49 boards – led by Jones’ 15 – compared to Saint Louis’ 30.

“We’re a team all year that’s taken a lot of pride about being really good defensively and making sure people don’t get extra opportunities,” Tsipis said. “Plus 19 on the rebounding margin is the first thing we look at.”

With the win, GW will move on to the semifinals Saturday to face the winner of the Fordham and Richmond game.

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