This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.
The pressure defense wasn’t awake, the offensive sets weren’t crisp and the Colonials committed seven turnovers over the first seven minutes of the game.
Then head coach Jonathan Tsipis called a timeout.
With graduate student Danni Jackson and sophomore Jonquel Jones on the bench in early foul trouble, GW responded under the leadership of junior Chakecia Miller. They would go on a 20-5 run to close the half.
Up against the worst team in the league – Massachusetts – who is still winless in conference play, GW had some leeway with their slow start Saturday. By the afternoon, the Colonials would go onto win 78-54.
“I just think at the beginning of the game, especially playing a team the second time, there’s always a little bit more of a feeling it out process,” Tsipis said. “I just think that as well as we responded initially off the foul trouble on Thursday night, that we didn’t do the same today.”
Fresh off a near-20 point win against VCU Thursday, the Colonials’ offense stuttered with early foul trouble. Sophomore Jonquel Jones would never get into the game, statically, but freshman Caira Washington picked up the slack. She would finish the day with 25 points and 16 rebounds.
Miller and Jackson found their 6-foot-2 freshman in the post with good positioning. Other times, Washington was cleaning up the offensive glass herself, finishing with six offensive boards. The Colonials would go onto outrebound the Minutewomen 58-40 and outscore them 18-9 on second chance points.
“[I] Just pulled them together and told them, ‘Let’s execute on offense and then defense will come much easier,’” Washington said.
It was necessary for Washington to lead the team today, especially down low, as the rest of the offense looked out of rhythm. Miller would help get her involved by pushing the pace and driving into the lane to open up the floor.
“I think it’s just the attack mentality that I try to have each and every game. When our team’s not at our best I try to keep attacking, try to keep finding the open player and keep pushing the ball,” said Miller, who would finish with 11 points and three assists with her family in the stands.
Guard play became a strong suit for GW by game’s end, especially their rebounding, said Tsipis, who was pleased that it wasn’t only his bigs rebounding.
But perhaps a bigger point of emphasis was the sheer production from the bench: 31 combined points.
Sophomores Alexis Chandler, Delacy Anderson and Aliyah Brown played vital minutes in the first half and later picked up a major amount of playing time down the stretch. Though struggling at times, they looked to get up their own shots. By the end of the game, every Colonial who checked in registered a basket.
Despite a slow start offensively, the defense – switching up its looks throughout the game – was able to limit the damage from Massachusetts’ main bruisers.
Minutewomen sharpshooter, junior Emily Mital, was stifled from 3-point land. Mital went 0-4 from behind the arc, an even better performance for the GW defense that held her to two made threes last time out. It’s an especially good sign as GW will begin facing teams for a second and third time this season.
“The team knows that for 40 minutes we didn’t do that tonight but I think the important part is we held serve at home, we go into the bye week knowing that we have things to work on fort these last three conference games,” Tsipis said.
Danni Jackson: 500 career assists
Jackson recorded her 500th career assist Saturday on a dish to Jones early in the second half. In three consecutive possessions, the graduate student found her two bigs, Washington with back-to-back layups, and then a jumper from Jones.
Graduate Student Danni Jackson dribbles in Thursday’s win against VCU. The point guard recorded her 500th assist Saturday. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer
The point guard would finish with eight assists and one turnover on the day. Heading into the game, Jackson was third in the A-10 in assists, with 5.7 dimes per game and third in assist to turnover ratio, at +1.8.
This accomplishment makes Jackson only the second GW player to record over 1,000 points and 500 assists. She joins Kimberly Beck (’08) in that category and moves up to fourth all time in assists.
“Getting an assist is really what I’m in the game for – getting my teammates involved. So it wasn’t anything new, but I’m happy to get the new accolades,” Jackson said.
Last week she was selected as one of 50 women’s basketball players to the 12th annual WBCA “So You Want to Be A Coach.” Jackson could be seen, even when sitting on the bench the last two games in foul trouble, directing her teammates out on the floor.
“It’s so funny because I can remember sitting in this very seat the day I took the job and having a discussion with her and kind of challenging her that I knew she had that extra year and her thoughts,” Tsipis said. “She’s done it since day one but when you’re five-foot-“two” you have to play with this giant chip on your shoulder.”
Jackson and the Colonials will head on the road for two straight games, the first being a 12 noon matchup with Richmond next Saturday.