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GW had the first openly transgender athlete in Division I sports. Now, Massachusetts has the first openly gay men’s basketball player.

Sophomore guard Derrick Gordon, who plays for conference rival UMass, became the first openly gay male athlete in Division I basketball Wednesday, coming out in interviews with ESPN and Outsports.

Sophomore guard Derrick Gordon. Courtesy of UMass Athletics.

Sophomore guard Derrick Gordon. Courtesy of UMass Athletics.

Colonials fans will know Gordon as one of the Minutemen’s best starters. Against GW on Feb. 15, Gordon scored 11 points and grabbed three rebounds, as the Minutemen served the Colonials their only home loss of the season, 67-61.

In the Atlantic 10 Championship quarterfinals, Gordon scored eight points and pulled in four boards, as GW got revenge with a win and a trip to the semifinals.

As a starter for head coach Derek Kellogg this year, Gordon averaged 9.4 points and 3.5 rebounds.

Kevin Larsen drives past Derrick Gordon in GW's Atlantic 10 quarterfinals win in Brooklyn, N.Y. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Kevin Larsen drives past Derrick Gordon in GW’s Atlantic 10 quarterfinals win in Brooklyn, N.Y. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

The announcement comes just a few months after NFL prospect and former Missouri defensive lineman, Michael Sam, became the first openly gay NFL draftee.

Gordon said it was not Sam, but Jason Collins – the NBA’s first actively gay player – who inspired him to come out to his teammates April 2. Collins, who announced he is gay last April, signed with the Brooklyn Nets in early March.

“When Jason came back to the league, that’s when I started to build a little more confidence about myself,” Gordon told ESPN. “If the NBA can accept him, then everything is going to be fine in my book.”

Gordon’s teammates were 100 percent supportive when he spoke to them in a team meeting, he said, and gave him words of encouragement like, “We got you,” “you’re our family,” and “this doesn’t change anything.”

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Mark Eisenhauer.

After sweeping Cornell Wednesday, the women’s softball team returned home for conference play against La Salle, splitting a double header Saturday. The Colonials shut out the Explorers 9-0 in the first game and dropped the afternoon matchup 7-3.

The player of the day was sophomore Meghan Rico, who pitched all 12 innings of both games for the Colonials. Despite the seven runs scored by La Salle in the second game, she gave up only six hits to the Explorers and recorded an impressive 11 combined strike-outs over the two games.

The day’s first game was all GW. After a hitless first inning with Rico on the mound, the Colonials offense came to life early. Freshman Megan Linn reached first on an error and proceeded to steal second and third before being brought home by a single to left field by junior Victoria Valos.

GW scored twice more in the inning, sparking an unstoppable offensive onslaught that would continue for the duration of the game.

Three more runs came across in both the second and third innings, putting La Salle in a 9-0 hole that they would never overcome – mostly due to Rico’s stellar pitching. Four strikeouts and only three walks held Rico’s shutout intact as the mercy rule ended the game after the fifth inning.

“My catcher has been working a lot with me this whole week,” Rico said. “I’m not used to throwing 14 innings every day, but she has really been keeping me focused every single inning and making sure we mix up the pitches so it keeps the other team off-balanced and not able to catch up with us.”

Rico has seemed to find her rhythm as the season progresses and is proving why she should be seen as the team’s ace.

“[Rico] was on,” head coach Stacey Schramm said. “She didn’t throw that many pitches in the first game and they weren’t hitting her at all. I mean she is our best option right now, so we were just trying to get two wins with her today.”

The second game held as a scoreless stalemate for the first three-and-a-half innings, until a double by sophomore Morgan Matetic and a single from freshman Jillian Galich in the bottom of the fourth inning put the Colonials on the board, 1-0. Rico maintained a no-hitter through five-and-two-thirds innings, but a three-run homer to center field by La Salle freshman Christina Bascara gave the Explorers the 3-1 edge.

GW cut the lead to one in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a solo home-run from Matetic, her fourth of the season. But the Colonials ran into a host of defensive problems in the top of the seventh as they tried to contain the bats of the Explorers.

GW would commit three errors in the seventh inning alone, and finish with five in the game. Those errors would cost the Colonials, as La Salle scored four runs off GW’s kicked grounders that should have been routine put-outs.

The now 7-2 lead for the Explorers would be too great for even the heart of the GW lineup to close and the Colonials tacked on their twentieth loss of the season.

GW continues conference play Wednesday at 4 p.m. against George Mason.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014 11:56 p.m.

Photos: GW vs. VCU in A-10 semis

Brooklyn, N.Y. – GW’s Atlantic 10 title hopes evaporated on Saturday. The Colonials could not maintain their strong first-half performance, losing to No. 23 VCU.

Here’s what photo editor Samuel Klein captured from the baseline:

Sophomore Joe McDonald goes up for a layup Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Joe McDonald goes up for a layup Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Joe McDonald tries to captain GW's offense against VCU's "havoc" defense. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Kethan Savage made a brief return to the court Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Forward Isaiah Armwood got GW off to a solid start Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Forward Isaiah Armwood got GW off to a solid start Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Senior Isaiah Armwood slams home a dunk Saturday for two of his team-high 15 points. | Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Senior Isaiah Armwood slams home a dunk Saturday for two of his team-high 15 points. | Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomores Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino walk offthe court after GW's loss to VCU Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomores Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino walk offthe court after GW’s loss to VCU Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Kethan Savage, who has been out for most of the season with a foot injury, saw a brief appearance on the court Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Joe McDonald ties his show after being looked at by trainers at the end of Saturday’s game. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen try to stop a VCU player on Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Patricio Garino and Isaiah Armwood try to stop a VCU player on Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Head coach Mike Lonergan, who has garnered praise this year for turning around GW, instructs players on the sidelines Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Head coach Mike Lonergan, who has garnered praise this year for turning around GW, instructs players on the sidelines Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Forward Kevin Larsen stretches on the sideline before Saturday's game. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Forward Kevin Larsen stretches on the sideline before Saturday’s game. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore forward Kevin Larsen loses the ball against two VCU defenders Satruday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore forward Kevin Larsen loses the ball against two VCU defenders Satruday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Senior Nemanja Mikic fires a three in the first half. Mikic carried GW with his hot shooting again on Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Senior Nemanja Mikic fires a three in the first half. Mikic carried GW with his hot shooting again on Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Joe McDonald struggles to get around a VCU defender. The Rams are famous for their "havoc" defense that suffocates offenses. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Joe McDonald struggles to get around a VCU defender. The Rams are famous for their “havoc” defense that suffocates offenses. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

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It’s been a week since the Colonials nearly upset Saint Louis last Saturday. A week to think about what’s left to be done and for head coach Mike Lonergan to get his team back to early season form, stating after Saturday’s loss that his team had lost its swagger.

With just three games to play before the Atlantic 10 tournament, and the Colonials still fighting for a top four finish in the conference, Lonergan told his team it’s officially a three-game season. First up, a rematch against George Mason.

In their last meeting on Jan. 25, GW topped GMU 75-69 at the Patriot Center. The Colonials handed the Patriots their sixth-straight conference loss, while improving to 4-1. But since then, GMU has gone 3-4, beating A-10 foes such as Massachusetts and Richmond, while losing in overtime to the Billikens. GW has done slightly better, going 4-3 in that period.

The Colonials will go for the Revolutionary Rivalry sweep Sunday when they face off against the Patriots. | Courtesy of GW Athletics

The Colonials will go for the Revolutionary Rivalry sweep Sunday when they face off against the Patriots. | Courtesy of GW Athletics

“They had been playing everybody tough early in the year and were just kind of snake-bitten,” Lonergan said at a practice Friday. “Now they’ve gotten some wins and got their confidence up and they’re definitely one of the better offensive teams in our league.”

The Patriots continue to be led by the senior duo of Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen. In the seven games since the two teams’ last meeting, Wright has averaged 20.5 points per game, while Allen has averaged 19.1. Anchoring the defense is redshirt freshman Jalen Jenkins, who ranks 16th in the conference at 6.3 rebounds, pulling in 8.3 rebounds in GMU’s last three games. In January, Jenkins, along with senior Johnny Williams, hurt the Colonials with outside jumpers and aggressiveness on the glass.

“They rebound good, they play good defense and last time we got burned with their big men shooting elbow jumpers. I think he [Williams] hit like four of them,” sophomore Kevin Larsen said. “We’ve got to be ready to go out and close out under control and make him drive.”

But for Lonergan, it’s not about scouting Mason as much as it is scouting his own team. Lonergan said Friday that there are three keys for the Colonials to get back to their winning ways; knocking down shots and getting back to focusing on rebounding and defense.

“I think we stopped getting better and started losing the focus of our program, which is really defense and rebounding,” Lonergan said “If your shots don’t drop, you can still guard and you can still help a team in other ways and we’ve got to all recognize that. So we got to get our energy and enthusiasm back and I think we’ll have a great crowd the next two home games.”

As a team, GW has shot just 36.3 percent from the field over its last three games. To change that, Lonergan is continuing to hope that graduate student Maurice Creek will find his stroke. Creek, who’s been the pulse of the team all season long, struggled mightily against Saint Louis last Saturday, not scoring his first bucket until seven minutes into the second half. Lonergan said that he needs Creek to produce, because when the guard is on, it’s contagious.

“We’ve got to get Maurice Creek hitting shots because I think when he was hitting shots, it opened things up for Nemanja Mikic who was shooting really well, but now his numbers are down too,” Lonergan said. “We’re gonna try and get [Creek] some open shots and hopefully he’ll get back on track. He had a very good all-around game at Mason and he’s due for a breakout game.”

With the conference tournament now just two weeks away and a possible NCAA tournament appearance to follow, it would be easy for GW to overlook a GMU team that sits near the bottom of the conference. But the Colonials seem focused and ready to return to the Smith Center floor where they are 12-1 on the season.

“There’s no room to look ahead. We’ve got to focus on each game at a time and on Sunday we’ve got George Mason and right now that’s the most important game on the schedule,” Larsen said.

Tip off for this Revolutionary Rivalry matchup is at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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ST. LOUIS — The men’s basketball team had several possessions and scoring runs that kept the Colonials close with the No. 10 team in the country.

Saint Louis would make a run, GW (20-7, 8-5) would push back, but forced errors and a debilitating defense would lead to a 66-59 loss for the Colonials. The loss – on the road in front of a hostile sellout crowd – was GW’s third in four games.

“I’m glad we didn’t fold. It was a great atmosphere and I’m glad we came back and tied it up,” head coach Mike Lonergan said.

But, he added: “We’ve got to get our swagger back.”

The Colonials stormed back from a 14-point deficit to tie the game with a little over nine minutes left in the game. But GW’s shooting then went ice cold. It was a story of the game: close, but not quite enough.

GW played a one-dimensional first half, scoring 16 of their 19 points from field goals inside the paint. Sophomores Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald carried the Colonials offense, scoring 20 of GW’s 27 first half points, with Larsen leading the team with 12.

The Saint Louis defense, which entered the game as the ninth-best scoring defense in the nation, held GW to 35 percent shooting in the first half. Throughout the half, the Billikens backcourt swarmed GW ball handlers, forcing nine first-half turnovers off five steals, and often times made it difficult for the Colonials to even pass the ball.

“It was just tough to get any wing entries,” McDonald said. “We had to do a lot of high ball screens with me and Kevin because you know, we couldn’t get it in from the wing so we just had to improvise a little bit.”

After a painfully slow first half, the men’s basketball team had a chance to go into the half with momentum and cut a Saint Louis lead, that was as large as 11, down to single digits in the final seconds.

An errant pass by SLU’s Jake Barnett led to a steal at midcourt by sophomore Kevin Larsen. After pushing the ball up the floor, GW found senior Nemanja Mikic in the corner for an uncontested three.

A miss by Mikic and a rebound by junior John Kopriva would lead to a second-chance opportunity for the Colonials as Kopriva looked for Mikic who stood unguarded. But a misdirected pass and turnover by Kopriva would lead to a Billikens dunk on the other end as the clock expired.

The Colonials’ first-half efforts were stunted by foul trouble from two of the team’s season leaders: senior Isaiah Armwood and graduate student Maurice Creek. Armwood would be limited to just 12 first half minutes while Creek would play just 10.

By the end of the half, between Garino, Creek, and Armwood go a combined 1-for-6 from the field.

“Honestly, Patricio and Mo Creek couldn’t even get open,” Lonergan said. “Mo, they played physical with him, and he couldn’t get the ball, he really struggled.”

Creek and Armwood would log heavier minutes in the second half of play, but both would struggle offensively. Armwood would finish with six points on 2-for-7 shooting and 11 rebounds. Creek, who wouldn’t score his first field goal until 13:50 left in the second half, would finish with five points on 2-for-12 shooting. Creek would miss all five of his three-point attempts.

On the offensive end, Saint Louis was able to break GW’s 1-3-1 zone defense with ball movement, converting 16 field goals on 10 first half assists. The Billikens shot 55 percent, led by 10 first-half points from senior Jordair Jett, and would end the half with a 12 point lead.

At the half, Lonergan told his 20-win team to start playing like an NCAA Tournament contender.

“At halftime, I just said we’re not playing with enough energy. I said, ‘Hey you want to come here and compete, we’re on TV, this is a big game for us,’” he said. “I said I just want to play hard, I didn’t think we played real hard.”

GW would respond, coming out aggressive in the second half and slowly chipping away at the SLU lead while tightening up on the defensive end. The offensive charge was led by McDonald and sophomore Patricio Garino.

After being affected by the SLU pressure in the first half, McDonald adjusted and was able to run set plays for the offense while finding his own shot. McDonald would finish with 13 second-half points, six of those points coming from beyond the arc.

After attempting just a single shot in the first half Garino went 3-for-5 in the second and finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Defensively, the Colonials outrebounded the Billikens 26-17 after being outrebounded in the first half by three.

In the span of just under 11 minutes, GW would erase a 14-point Saint Louis lead. But like most of the game, Saint Louis would regain composure, and take an 8-0 run to extend their lead, something that Billikens’ head coach Jim Crews credits to his team’s ability to regain the rebound battle.

But the big GW run would come at a price. Lonergan said that he believed the 11-minute span knocked the energy out of his starting five. He added that without a productive bench, forced him to leave the starters in for extended minutes.

SLU would keep GW in the game due to lackluster free throw shooting, shooting 9-15 from the line. The Colonials would come as close as three points, but multiple missed three-point looks by McDonald and Garino down the stretch would seal the victory for the Billikens.

“I thought maybe we lost our composure, but Patricio came down and just shot like a 30 footer,” Lonergan said.

Lonergan had one timeout remaining in the game but opted not to use it, saying after the game that he tried to have Garino go off a screen but says the sophomore’s inexperience and quick shot may have led to the quick shot.

GW returns to the Smith Center next Sunday where they will host George Mason at 1 p.m.

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Then-freshman forward Kevin Larsen battles a tough Saint Louis defense at the Smith Center last year. Hatchet File Photo by  Cameron Lancaster

Then-freshman forward Kevin Larsen battles a tough Saint Louis defense at the Smith Center last year. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster

Who: No. 10 Saint Louis University (24-2, 11-0)

When: Saturday 8 p.m.

Where: Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis

Even if GW can tune out a raucous crowd and get past Saint Louis’ conference-leading defense , the Colonials will have an even greater obstacle Saturday: the Billikens’ experience and poise late in the game.

Saint Louis starts five seniors who have helped the team to win close games in conference play. The Billikens enter Saturday’s matchup as winners of 18 straight games, with their most recent victory coming in overtime against George Mason Wednesday.

Out of the team’s 11 conference wins, two games have been won in overtime, and five games have been decided by four points or less. Their only two losses this season have come against No. 16 Wisconsin and No. 3 Wichita State.

“It shows me what a team that starts five seniors can be,” GW head coach Mike Lonergan said during a practice Thursday. “They don’t get flustered and they find ways to win, and that’s what makes them a great team.”

The Billikens average 71.3 points per game and shoot the ball at 44.4 percent. SLU boasts three players who average double figures in scoring, led by senior Dwayne Evans who ranks 13th in the conference at 14.7 points per game. The Billikens best all-around offensive player however is senior guard Jordair Jett. Jett has great ability to get to the basket and draw defenses. He averages 13.7 points per game, and ranks second in the conference in assists at five per game.

As a team, the Billikens average 14.5 assists and turn the ball over 12.1 times per game, which yields the second best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league.

Senior forward Rob Loe will also give the Colonials fits, especially in the frontcourt, Lonergan said.

Loe, who stands at 6-foot-11, is a surprisingly strong perimeter scorer and can pass the ball well. In his last five games, Loe has averaged 14.2 points while shooting 12-for-25 from beyond the arc.

“Loe’s been doing a good job of hitting three’s lately, and really creates matchup problems,” Lonergan said. “[Larsen is] going to have to do a good job of making sure he gets out on him.”

The Billikens outscore their opponents by an average of 11.5 points per game, which ranks first in the conference. But their offense shouldn’t get all the credit.

They rank first in the conference and 12th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 59.9 points per game. Opponents shoot 39.4 percent from the field against the Billikens and 26.7 percent from beyond the arc. SLU forces 14.7 turnovers a game, many coming in the form of steals. The Billikens only trail VCU at 7.8 steals per game, with four players recording at least 25 steals so far this season.

“Their defense is what has my attention really,” Lonergan said. “They just do such a good job of denying things and taking you out of your offense.”

GW will have to play at their best if they plan on handing Saint Louis just its second home loss of the season, but the Colonials have some momentum entering Saturday’s game after a big road win at Richmond Tuesday.

“I’m telling them we had a nice road win at Richmond and now we have an opportunity to play a top 10 team in their building,” Lonergan said. “We’ve got nothing to lose but we’ve got to go in there and make sure that we’re confident, that we play loose, and win or lose this is only one game in our season.”

GW continues to be led by the scoring of graduate student Maurice Creek, who in the past four games is averaging 16 points. After successfully using Creek off the bench in Tuesday’s game, Lonergan said that he is unsure of his gameplan for Saturday’s matchup.

The Colonials will also look for another strong performance from sophomore guard Joe McDonald. McDonald logged heavy minutes against the Spiders, finishing with 14 points and five rebounds. Against a stingy Billikens defense, GW will look to McDonald to handle the ball and organize offensive sets. Lonegran did mention that he will need the rest of his backcourt to step up and help McDonald.

“We need to stay loose and have fun,” forward Isaiah Armwood said. “We think we can beat them. They’re a good team but we’re a good team as well.”

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Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 1:28 a.m.

Preview: A must-win game for GW against Richmond

WHO: GW (19-6, 7-4) vs. Richmond (17-8, 7-3)
WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 18 @ 7 p.m.
WHERE: Robins Center

This game just got much more important. A loss to the Spiders would be three in a row, and with a daunting matchup against Saint Louis looming in the future, this game could easily make or break GW’s NCAA Tournament chances.

Case for Richmond:

A drastically different team than the Colonials, Richmond will try to slow down the pace and wear out GW with its sturdy defense.

The Spiders own the second-best defense in the Atlantic 10, giving up a mere 65.7 points per game. In their upset win over Massachusetts – still the No. 1 scoring team in the league – they held the Minutemen to their lowest point total of the season, 55.

They are third in field-goal defense (.410 percent) and second in three-point field goal defense (.285 percent). A pretty hefty task for even a high-powered offense like GW to overcome.

Packing the middle will be sophomore forward Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, who leads the A-10 with 2.4 blocks per game. Along with fellow forward Terry Allen, the two big bodies will look to cause similar problems for forwards Isaiah Armwood and Kevin Larsen as the UMass frontcourt was able to Saturday.

On offense, for much of the season, Richmond was led by a two-man wrecking crew: senior guard Cendrick Lindsay and junior guard Kendall Anthony. They both rank in the top 10 in scoring in the A-10, Lindsay at 18.3 ppg (third) and Anthony at 15.9 ppg (seventh). To compare, GW’s highest scorer, graduate student Maurice Creek, averages 14 points per game.

But earlier this month, Lindsay sustained a season-ending torn meniscus in both knees. The Spiders have survived thus far, with wins over A-10 bottomfeeders, Duquesne and Fordham, but GW will be on a whole other level.

On his own and in front of an average of 5,590 Spider fans, Anthony will look to make it a four-game winning streak and put the Colonials in a very tough bubble position.

Case for GW:

Sophomore forward Patricio Garino slices between two UMass defenders earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Sophomore forward Patricio Garino slices between two UMass defenders earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Richmond lost to Saint Bonaventure, but then defeated Dayton and UMass – two teams GW lost to. Then they lost to VCU and pulled out a two-point win to split with the Bonnies. Bottom line: Richmond is good, but as GW has been in conference play, they’re also a little inconsistent.

It’s more than likely that GW will win the battle on the glass Tuesday. Not only is Richmond the worst rebounding team in the league, averaging just over 32 boards per game, but they are also the second-worst rebounding defense, giving up 38.1 rebounds per game. The Colonials are second in the A-10, at 37.4.

So taking the rebounding numbers out of the picture, GW will need to get back to their unselfish ways handling the ball in order to maneuver the Richmond defense.

GW ranks third in the conference at 14.7 assists per game, but had just 12 in the loss to UMass, thanks solely to the seven dimes that came off the hands of Joe McDonald. In the easy wins against Duquesne and Fordham, the Colonials dished out 23 and 20 assists, respectively. Quick ball movement that avoids the slow pace that Richmond likes to play at will be key.

Also a given then, will be the continued production from fast-break specialist Patricio Garino. The forward led GW with 20 points in the loss to UMass and has been the most consistent player as of late. He single-handedly can change the pace of Tuesday’s game.

To pull out a win, though, one of GW’s other double digit scorers – Armwood, Larsen, Creek and McDonald – will need to step up there offensive play. A few weeks ago, this didn’t seem like a must win, but now, it’s about as close to one as you can get.

This post was updated Feb. 18, 2014 at 2:51 p.m. to reflect the following:
Correction appended
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Cendrick Lyndsay was still active this season, but he is out with an injury.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.

Freshman forward Caira Washington earned Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Rookie of the Week honors for the third time this season after helping the Colonials to a perfect 2-0 weekend.

Washington averaged a double-double with 19.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in wins over VCU and Massachusetts. She also added 2.5 blocks per game, including four big denials against a powerful Rams offense Thursday.

Against UMass Saturday, Washington had a career night, scoring 25 points while grabbing 16 rebounds in a 78-54 win. Saturday’s performance marked Washington’s ninth double-double of the season, a team best.

Freshman Caira Washington goes up for a shot earlier this season. She earned her third A-10 Rookie of the Week Award Monday. Hatchet File Photo

Freshman Caira Washington goes up for a shot earlier this season. She earned her third A-10 Rookie of the Week Award Monday. Hatchet File Photo

Washington couldn’t say which part of her stat line she was most proud of, but she gave credit to her teammates for helping her get there.

“They’re both exciting numbers. I have a great team, great guards who find me on open looks and with [Jonquel Jones] and [DaLacy Anderson] being there on the boards helping me get tips and the extra looks on offense and defense it makes it much easier for me to go to the boards,” Washington said after Saturday’s win over the Minutewomen.

The Brandywine, Md. native shot an impressive 73.9 percent from the floor during the week, as her consistent inside presence kept the Colonials on track during slow starts in both games.

Washington is averaging 11.9 points and a conference-best 9.2 rebounds for the season. Her 57 percent field goal percentage and 3.8 offensive rebounds per game also lead the A-10.

The women’s basketball team will return to action Saturday, where they will play a road game against Richmond at 2 p.m.

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Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Photos by Cameron Lancaster

At home and coming off a loss, a win for GW was supposed to be a formality. The team was 13-0 at home and had yet to lose back-to-back games.

But this was Massachusetts – the once No. 13 ranked team in the country.

So despite a furious comeback while down by as many as 11 points in the second half, the Colonials couldn’t pull out the victory, falling to the Minutemen 67-61.

Though it wasn’t a must win situation for the Colonials, as Lonergan said, it was a “golden opportunity” given away.

“Our inside guys were not scoring and I think we were settling for some jumpers and fadeaways and just not playing tough enough,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “We shot a low percentage and they did a good job taking away our inside game.”

Eight lead changes, five tied scores and a seven-minute stretch in the second half that saw each team within at least three points. In the house: ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and GW Hall of Famer John Flaherty.

But a magical 20th win seems to be elusive, as an ice-cold shooting night and mental mistakes in the closing minutes ultimately did in the Colonials.

GW, the best field goal percentage team in the Atlantic 10 entering the game, would shoot 36.7 percent for the night, going 4-13 from behind the arc. UMass on the other hand, would shoot 49 percent, led by 20 points on 4-5 three-point shooting from redshirt senior Carter Sampson.

Sampson, along with 250-pound center Cady Lalanne, would make it a rough night for forwards Isaiah Armwood and Kevin Larsen. The duo would score a combined 23 points on 8-25 shooting, while turning the ball over five times.

“Lalanne is a big body in there,” Armwood said. “Usually we aren’t used to playing a guy that size, we were rushing a little bit. They just bothered us, took us out of our comfort zone.

With 11:31 to play, though, it looked like things were turning in the Colonials’ favor. Down 49-40, UMass star Chaz Williams was called for his fourth foul while guarding sophomore Patricio Garino on a fast break. He fell to the ground and raised his arms in protest as the Colonial Army raised their arms in exuberance.

Over the next six-minute stretch, with Williams on the bench, GW got hot. Five consecutive points from graduate transfer Maurice Creek and it was a five-point game. A left-handed reverse layup from Garino less than a minute later and it was a one-point game.

Graduate transfer Maurice Creek puts in a layup against UMass Saturday. The Colonials surrendered their first home loss of the season, 67-61. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Graduate transfer Maurice Creek puts in a layup against UMass Saturday. The Colonials surrendered their first home loss of the season, 67-61. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

That was enough for UMass head coach Derek Kellogg and back in went Williams with four fouls.

“I think that was the stretch that we started running, we had made a couple transition buckets that gave us the lead,” Garino said. “We just needed that energy through the whole game

In that moment, GW looked poised to handle the pressure, as another reverse layup from Garino off an assist from sophomore Joe McDonald gave them their first lead since the 9:56 mark in the first.

Garino would finish with a team-high 20 points and three steals – the only player, Lonergan said, that was able to attack the basket as his team struggled to shoot.

But from then on, the Minutemen would successfully walk the tight rope that was foul trouble. Only redshirt junior Maxie Esho would foul out, but in addition to Williams, Carter and forward Raphiael Putney were also forced to deal with four fouls down the stretch.

For the majority of the game, it was the Minutemen letting the Colonials hang around, going 12-26 at the free-throw line. But missed jumpers and mental mistakes, like a foul by Creek on a three-point shooting Trey Davis, would hand the game back to UMass.

“That was a big win for us in a hostile environment against a team which I think is definitely an NCAA caliber team,” Kellogg said. “We never gave in, they never quit, in my college estimation it was a very good basketball game.”

Lonergan once again received no help from his bench – the only reserve production coming on a three from senior Nemanja Mikic with 15:30 to play in the second half. But Lonergan was not at all surprised, emphasizing the limited six-man rotation that he realistically has to play with.

GW will look to avoid making it three-straight losses when it heads to Richmond Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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Sophomore forward Jonquel Jones charges to the basket Saturday night against the VCU Rams. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Sophomore Forward Jonquel Jones charges to the basket Saturday night against the VCU Rams. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.

Entering Wednesday’s game, GW and VCU had similar conference resumes. Sitting back-to-back in the conference standings and similar overall records, the two teams took to the Smith Center floor with the second and third best offenses in the Atlantic 10.

But the Colonials put some space between them and the Rams with an 80-62 victory, and they did it with a balanced offense and suffocating defense.

GW’s man-to-man defense forced the Rams into off-balanced shots, and held them to just over 25 percent shooting on the night. The Colonials on the other hand would shoot almost 49 percent from the field. GW arms were a constantly in the face of ball-handlers, skying for rebounds or contesting shots on VCU possessions all night.

“The man to man tonight, especially in the first half, was as good as we’ve seen it all season,” said head coach Jonathan Tsipis.

A-10 leading scorer Robyn Parks was averaging over 22 points per game at tipoff, but was held to just 13 Wednesday on 4-21 shooting. She was nowhere to be found as her team tried to get going, scoring her first points from the field with less than nine minutes left to play.

“I think she’s a very athletic player,” graduate student Megan Nipe said. “We had to stick to our fundamentals bigtime and not put her on the free throw line too much and I think we did a really good job of that tonight.”

The game wasn’t always well in hand for GW (17-8, 8-4), however. They were down by as many as nine points early in the first half, the VCU (18-7, 6-6) surge fueled by early turnovers and frantic play in the halfcourt.

But the Colonials would eventually settle down with help from their veteran in Nipe. The six-foot guard, who had a game high 19 points, started raining three’s for the Colonials, and would finish 5-9 from beyond the arc on the night. Nipe’s offensive push was echoed by the GW frontcourt pitching in layups, and combined with VCU missing shots the Colonials found themselves in front.

Not only did Nipe redeem herself after an uncharacteristic two point performance in a loss to Fordham, she exhibited poise when she didn’t play her best to begin the game, which seemed to be contagious as the team didn’t panic and turned the game around.

“I actually came out in this game and had a rough start as well with a missed three, a foul and a turnover,” Nipe said. “I was determined not to make it like my last game.”

The Colonials’ great offensive balance made it hard for the Rams to truly crack down on defense. With the exception of freshman Shannon Cranshaw, who only played four minutes Thursday, every single GW player scored at least one basket. By game’s end the bench would score 29 points, it was all about unselfish play for the Colonials.

Out of the hole and ahead by two, Jones got the ball in front of an open basket off the fastbreak. Instead of taking a wide open layup she tossed it backwards to Nipe, who buried a three.

“Even I was surprised,” Nipe said. “That was just the flow of the game, though. Being unselfish was really what got that huge spurt going where we just took off.”

GW went on a 32-9 run to close out the first half with the lead swelling to 29 points early in the second.

“The offense felt really efficient, the team was working great together,” Jones said. “Everyone was moving and getting into open spaces.”

Jones was untouchable inside for the Colonials, posting a double double with 17 points and 17 boards. Her frontcourt partner, freshman Caira Washington, joined her with 14 points and 10 rebounds of her own.

“Sometimes it looks like they’re just throwing it back up to themselves,” Nipe joked.

The frontcourt duo lead GW off the glass, where they outrebounded the Rams 52-32. The Rams did not get a single second chance point.

“When you don’t give a team any second chance points, then that’s one way, especially when it’s a team on the road, you can take away that confidence,” Tsipis said.

With the win GW improved their home record to 12-3.

The Colonials have a quick turnaround, hosting Massachusetts on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. in the Smith Center.

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