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George Mason

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Rob Bartnichak.

The women’s tennis team defeated George Mason by the score of 6-1 Sunday, capping off the regular season and Senior Day with a celebration.

Leah Pascarella serves at a match on the Mount Vernon Campus last season. Hatchet File Photo

Leah Pascarella serves at a match on the Mount Vernon Campus last season. Hatchet File Photo

Senior Leah Pascarella paced the Colonials, who along with sophomore Christina Carpenter, secured an 8-3 doubles win to help the Colonials take the doubles point. She then went on to a seamless singles victory 6-0, 6-0, bringing her singles record 16-8 on the year and 10-3 in the spring.

“It feels great to have a senior day like this,” Pascarella said after the match. “I couldn’t have asked for much more.”

Also graduating was senior Isabella Escobar, who suffered a somewhat less satisfying afternoon, being defeated in singles 7-6, 6-4 and losing in doubles with freshman partner Taylor Nederlander, 8-4. The singles loss ends her regular season record at 2-7.

“It’s unfortunate that I didn’t win but I thought I fought hard,” Escobar said. “But still, GW has given me an amazing experience.”

Sophomore Lana Robins (6-1, 6-0), Nederlander (7-6, 6-3), sophomore Egle Jakuciunaite (6-2, 6-0) and Carpenter (6-1, 6-0) all won their singles matches in straight sets. The doubles duo of Robins and freshman Allison Hansen added the second GW doubles win, 8-3, giving the Colonials the early 1-0 lead.
Robins ended her season leading the team in singles victories, finishing with a record of 17-9.

The win brings the team’s overall record to 8-5, 5-2 in the conference. With the regular season now over, the team switches its view to the Atlantic 10 Championship in Mason, Ohio, set to begin Thursday, April 24. The Colonials will learn their tournament seeding tomorrow after all weekend matches conclude.

“I think we’re ready,” assistant coach Anthony Lee said. “We can always improve on things but we just need to compete and give 110 percent and we’ll do well.”

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This report was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, junior Ryan Xepoloas roped a shot out to right center that hit off the top of the fence. He and one other Colonial would score – the first GW runs after 14 straight from George Mason over the course of the past two games.

In the fourth, the Patriots first baseman hit one toward that same spot in right center. This one went over the fence for a solo home run, leading to a three-run fourth inning.

A young GW team could not come back against a veteran-heavy George Mason team and lost 10-3, dropping the rubber match of the Atlantic 10 series.

Senior Aaron Weisberg delivers a pitch in Friday's series opener against George Mason. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Aaron Weisberg delivers a pitch in Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

“It’s like the ugly head spins around and here comes Voldemort,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “We got [professor Quirrell’s purple turban] on and we play good and guys execute the right things. And all of a sudden, they forgot to put the turban back on – that’s the focus hat, the focus turban – and they expose Voldemort. He comes out the other side and just freaks out.”

The Patriots scored their first two runs in the third inning Sunday – the first on a string of hits and a stolen base, the second on a throwing error by freshman third baseman Bobby Campbell as he tried to turn a double play while looking a runner back. Instead, the rushed throw to second went wide and into the outfield.

Campbell came to the plate for redemption with runners on second and third and two outs, but he rolled over to the third baseman on a 2-2 fastball to end the inning.

The Patriots came back over the next two innings to tack on five more runs, putting GW in a tough seven-run hole.

“They haven’t been able to figure out how to put on the brake, put a foot down and kind of Flintstone it,” Ritchie said. “You got to put your foot down through that floorboard and say, ‘No, stop.’ And then when it’s ready you got to wear those feet out and pedal. They’re just young guys that are still going through an absolute evolution of their mentality at playing at this level.”

Sophomore Bobby LeWarne exited after four innings of work, giving up five runs – four earned – on six hits, two walks and three hit batsmen.

“He didn’t command,” Ritchie said. “The stuff was the same stuff. He fell behind a lot and then when he had to throw his changeup in a behind the count situation, he had to elevate it.”

Series Recap:

George Mason rolled into the series with a 4-1 conference record to GW’s 1-5 record. The A-10 newcomer was off to a strong start, but faced Colonial senior Aaron Weisberg in search of his first win of the season.

Thanks to seven innings and one run allowed by the big righty, GW won the first game 4-3. Mason jumped out to an early lead, getting their lone run against Weisberg in the first off three consecutive base hits. Freshman Collin Milon came in for relief in the ninth and ran into trouble, allowing two runs, but senior Luke Staub closed out the final two outs.

Freshman Collin Gibbons-Fly got the Colonials on the scoreboard with an RBI triple in the second inning. He then singled home the go-ahead run in the seventh, while GW tagged on an additional two runs in the eighth.

Saturday, GW put themselves in a comfortable spot thanks to three early runs in the second inning, but the Colonials would not score again, losing 7-3. In the fourth inning, George Mason scored four runs on four hits, including a two-run RBI triple off freshman Jacob Williams, who dropped to 2-3 on the season.

GW will remain home to play Coppin State Tuesday and Towson Wednesday, before travelling to Philadelphia for a weekend A-10 series against La Salle.

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At a practice Friday, men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan said that graduate student Maurice Creek was due for a breakout game after struggling to regain his early-season stroke.

At the end of the first half of Sunday’s game against George Mason, Creek’s struggles were still there. He had missed his first six field goal attempts and wouldn’t score until there were two minutes left to play in the half.

But after three straight threes to start the second half, Creek would finish with 22 points and propel his team to a 66-58 victory over Mason, improving GW’s home record to 13-1.

“I told [Creek] his picture was on a milk carton because he’s been missing for a while,” Lonergan joked. “He’s one of the best shooters I ever coached, but I told him keep shooting.”

Like Creek, though, the rest of the GW lineup would struggle early. The Colonials finished the first half shooting 9-23 from the field and combined for nine turnovers, unable to create attempts for themselves or handle the ball.

Lonergan said after the game that he had trouble finding balance on the floor after two of his starting guards, sophomores Patricio Garino and Joe McDonald, were saddled with early foul trouble. Garino would eventually foul out of the game with 4:53 to play.

“I was sort of disappointed,” Lonergan said. “We had a week to prepare, I thought we’d be focused and we wanted to guard against foul trouble. Our goal was to get into halftime without any major foul trouble, and two of our best guards got into foul trouble, really, the whole game.”

Fortunately for GW (21-7, 9-5), the team’s stout defense would balance the scales, as Mason (10-18, 3-11) also shot just 32.1 percent from the field. After garnering a 12-7 lead, the Patriots would miss 10 straight field goals over a six-minute stretch, and by the end of a low-scoring half, GW would have a slim 26-24 lead.

After being unable to turn it around in recent games, it was unclear which Creek the Smith Center audience would see in the second half. The answer came quickly.

On the Colonials first possession of the half, Creek hit a three from the right wing. On the next possession, he hit another three from the left corner.

And then, in typical heat check fashion, Creek would attempt another three from the top of the key and nail it. Nine straight points and Creek had single-handedly separated GW from Mason. He would go on to score the first 11 points of the half for the Colonials and finish with 19 second-half points.

“I didn’t have the best first half and I knew that,” Creek said. “Coach just told me to keep shooting the ball. You know that’s what teams are all about, when you have a team that trusts you to your fullest abilities to make plays, you know your time is going to come.”

Along with Creek, GW would finish with three other players in double figures. Senior Isaiah Armwood recorded a double-double with 11 points and 14 boards, and sophomores Kevin Larsen and Garino would add 13 and 11 points, respectively.

Armwood led the Colonials’ pursuit on the glass, a key for GW as they held onto their lead down the stretch. Armwood and Larsen would combine for 22 rebounds on the afternoon, as GW out-rebounded the Patriots 39-34. Those boards, including 14 on the offensive glass, would lead to 18 second-chance points, compared to just eight for GMU.

“I was disappointed in how they got us on the boards,” George Mason head coach Paul Hewitt said. “At the end of the day, the eight-point margin was by three or four offensive rebounds they got, and that’s supposed to be our strength.”

While GW would stretch its lead to as many as 14, the Colonials could not close out the game due to poor shooting from the free-throw line. GW would shoot 12-22 from the line in the second half, opening the door for Mason to go on multiple runs.

Mason’s top scorers, seniors Bryon Allen and Sherrod Wright, combined for 30 points to keep the Patriots in contention, but it wouldn’t be enough, as the rest of the Patriots missed open shot after open shot.

GW will play its final home game of the regular season Wednesday when they host second-place Saint Joseph’s at 9 p.m.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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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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Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 9:53 a.m.

Atlantic 10 weekly wrap-up

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Mark Eisenhauer.

Saint Joseph’s upsets VCU

Despite entering Saturday’s game with a 15-7 overall record and a 5-3 conference record, the Hawks were considered no contest for a powerhouse VCU team. Winning 11 of their last 12, VCU received 44 votes in the AP poll last week and looked poised to break the top 25 in the coming weeks. But, the road hurt the Rams once again as they fell to St. Joe’s 69-62. Senior guard Langston Galloway led the Hawks with an impressive 24 points, while freshman Deandre Bembry added 18. The St. Joe’s defense held VCU’s top scorer, Juvonte Reddic, to only 17 points. The loss puts VCU in third place in the A-10, behind GW (who currently holds the tiebreaker), and heightens the importance of Wednesday’s meeting between the Rams and Colonials.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Mason gets first conference win, No. 13 Saint Louis continues domination

\George Mason won its first conference game Saturday against Duquesne, 74-68 in Pittsburgh. Senior guard Sherrod Wright scored 23 points to help the Patriots break a nine-game losing streak. Although still in last place, this is a step in the right direction for a struggling Mason squad.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Saint Louis continued its conference domination, taking down Saint Joe’s 65-49 Wednesday and La Salle 65-63 Saturday. After breezing by Saint Joe’s, the Bilikens faced
more of a challenge at La Salle, but senior guard Jordair Jett ensured the victory with 25 points, including the game-winning basket. Saint Louis remains undefeated and keeps its school-record 16-game win streak alive. They will host the Colonials next Saturday, Feb. 22.

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Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 11:32 p.m.

A-10 men’s basketball wrap-up

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Mark Eisenhauer.

Here’s a look back at the week’s biggest highlights in Atlantic 10 men’s basketball:

Mighty Minutemen fall, twice

No. 21 UMass was upset in both of its conference matchups this week, being defeated by both Saint Bonaventure and Saint Joseph’s.

After being handed their first loss in over a month by the Richmond Spiders last week, the Minutemen seemed to return to form by crushing Fordham by 38 just a few days later.

But just as it looked like they were bouncing back, the rest of the A-10 had other ideas. Holding UMass star guard Chaz Williams to only 11 points and forcing 17 turnovers, the Bonnies took down the Minutemen 78-65. The loss seemed to stick in their head as the Hawks jumped out to a 16-point lead Saturday. But after making five clutch fouls shots in the last thirty seconds, Saint Joseph’s would hold on for the win.

This subpar week has brought UMass to a 4-3 conference record – dropping them to fifth in the A-10 rankings and likely out of the Top 25 completely. if they truly want to be contenders this year, a quick return to form is more than necessary.

George Mason nearly upsets St. Louis

Entering Saturday’s game with a 7-13 overall record and not a single conference win, GMU seemed to pose almost no threat to a powerhouse No. 19 Saint Louis team. Even more, the Bilikens were undefeated at home in conference play and had accrued an impressive 19-2 overall record.

But much to the chagrin of fans at Chaifetz Arena, the Patriots gave the home team a run for its money. GMU led the game by seven on three separate occasions and with 4:12 to play held a five-point lead. After some tense final minutes, Saint Louis hit a three with 44 seconds left to grab momentum and send the game to overtime.

The Bilikens would pull away in the extra period to win their 14th straight game – tying a school record – while the Patriots would fall to 0-7 in conference play. Not even Bryon Allen’s career-high 30 points could help this struggling Mason team, who will not likely get out of the A-10 basement anytime soon.

VCU wreaks Havoc

After being defeated by the Colonials on Jan. 14th, the Rams responded in a big way, winning five straight to re-solidify themselves as a powerful contender in the A-10. Now 6-1 in conference play and 18-4 overall, VCU holds a commanding second-place standing in the A-10, as well as a No. 28 ranking in the RPI and BPI.

This week, they took down both Fordham and local-rival Richmond with relative ease. Despite allowing a staggering 31 points to Richmond’s Kendall Anthony, head coach Shaka Smart has his “Havoc” defense back on track. Senior Juvonte Reddic and junior Treveon Graham make VCU a serious contender in both the A-10 and the NCAA tournament if they were to get a bid. Keep VCU on your radar in the coming weeks, as some AP Poll votes are definitely headed their way.

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Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor Sophomore Joe McDonald passes the ball during GW's game against George Mason on Saturday January 25th. The Colonials came back from a 1 point deficit to win the game 75-69 over the Patriots.

Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor
Sophomore Joe McDonald passes the ball during GW’s game against George Mason on Saturday January 25th. The Colonials came back from a 1 point deficit to win the game 75-69 over the Patriots.

Fairfax, Va. – Despite a week off from their last win against St. Bonaventure, the Colonials needed an extra 20 minutes Saturday to find their rhythm.

After a sluggish first half of play, GW (16-3, 4-1) embarked on a huge second half, in which they shot 66.7 percent from the field, to silence the Patriot Center crowd and run away with a 75-69 victory over George Mason.

Sophomore Joe McDonald would score all of his team-high 14 points in the second half, with the frontcourt duo of Isaiah Armwood and Kevin Larsen combining for an additional 26 points on 11-20 shooting. As a team, the Colonials would finish with five players in double figures.

Isaiah Armwood drives past a George Mason defender on Saturday. Armwood was one of five GW players to finish in double figures. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Isaiah Armwood drives past a George Mason defender on Saturday. Armwood was one of five GW players to finish in double figures. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

“We started scoring,” Lonergan said. “We struggled to score late in the first half. Isaiah sat a lot with foul trouble, but he played more and made some baskets, did a good job going inside the whole game. And then our 1-3-1 was pretty effective, at least early on in the second half.”

GW got off to a fast start to begin the game, opening on 4-4 shooting from the field and executing head coach Mike Lonergan’s plan to establish an inside game. But a host of troubles would halt the progress for the Colonials.

As starters began to tire, Lonergan called for a platoon swap, substituting his reserves for an extended period in the first. Lonergan admitted he did that because they couldn’t get a whistle and didn’t want to waste a timeout.

The long stint, though, revealed the bench still wasn’t ready to handle the load or be a big difference maker in the game. They seemed confused, unable to run a play through point guard Miguel Cartagena without having a ticking shot clock force them to shoot the ball.

On the day, the GW bench would be outscored 30-13 by the Mason reserves.

Mason (7-13, 0-6), on the other hand, began to heat up thanks to hot shooting by Jalen Jenkins and Johnny Williams. Williams would shoot 5-5 in the first half, while Jenkins would put up nine points against a GW frontcourt that was without Armwood for all but four minutes in the first.

“He got me on my heels a little bit in the first half, that’s why I got my two fouls,” Armwood said about Jenkins. “I just knew I had to stay disciplined, and that’s just what I did in the second half.”

Larsen and fellow sophomore Patricio Garino would carry the Colonials offense in the first half, combining for 17 of GW’s 29 first half points. Similar to Armwood, graduate student Maurice Creek would play just a total of eight minutes in the first, combing for a first half stat-line of four points, one rebound, and one assist.

In the second half, GW – with Armwood on the floor – would find the balance and energy they had been missing. The Colonias would quickly erase the slim Patriots’ lead, going on an 18-7 run over the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the half. They would score a total of 46 second half points.

Armwood led GW during the run, scoring eight points on two ferocious one-handed slams. He would finish the game with 12 points and two rebounds.

Surprisingly picking up the slack on the boards would be forwards Nemanja Mikic and John Kopriva, who would combine for 10 rebounds. Mikic would add seven points, highlighted by a fast-three off an assist from Larsen.

In the backcourt, GW was propelled by the balanced attack of Creek and McDonald.

After starting the game 1-3, Creek would shoot 3-5 in the second half and finish in double figures with 11 points, four rebounds, and a team-high seven assists. After going scoreless in the first half, McDonald would score 14 second-half points on 5-6 shooting, going 2-3 from deep. Without Savage, McDonald was able to control the ball well, only surrendering a single turnover.

The solid inside-out attack that the Colonials were able to find in the second half served as a good sign that GW may be able to survive without the highlight-reel play of Savage. They will need to continue to be unselfish, and have more 20-assist days like they did Saturday.

“We have no one on our team really that plays like Kethan, so we’re just gonna have to make up for his rebounds and for some of the things he does as a team. But that’s one good thing about our team, we really are a team,” Lonergan said.

GW will return to the Smith Center Wednesday at 7 p.m. when they host La Salle for their second conference meeting of the season.

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This post was written by contributing sports editor Sean Hurd.

Heading into Saturday’s matchup against George Mason, head coach Mike Lonergan has had to repeatedly answer one question: How will his team move on without breakout guard Kethan Savage?

“No one on our team will do what Kethan did,” Lonergan said.

Not sophomore forward Patricio Garino, who will likely take the place of the injured Savage in the starting lineup. Not senior guard Nemanja Mikic. Not freshman guards Nick Griffin or Miguel Cartagena.

At least not single handedly.

Without sophomore Kethan Savage, GW will need multiple players to step up the rest of the season. Hatchet File Photo

Without sophomore Kethan Savage, GW will need multiple players to step up the rest of the season. Hatchet File Photo

Savage was the team’s biggest driving presence, Lonergan admitted, and the only player who could consistently get to the rim. The emphasis this week, though, has been that while one player may not be able to come in and fill the large gap left by Savage, they will learn to adjust as a team and find other ways to make up for Savage’s production.

“We don’t need one specific person to do everything that Kethan did because you can’t do that. Kethan is a special player,” sophomore point guard Joe McDonald said.

GW will get the chance to experiment and shake out the kinks against a struggling Patriots team that is still without a conference win. They enter Saturday’s matchup with a 7-12 record, although seven of their losses have come by six or less points.

To secure what seems like an easy win, Lonergan will need to highlight the rest of his team’s skillsets: a solidified frontcourt, good outside shooting and flexible defense.

“We’re going to have to become a better outside shooting team. We’re going to have to do a better job of getting the ball inside, or maybe we’ll have to play more 1-3-1 because we are going to have to guard against foul trouble more than ever,” Lonergan said. “So hey does it change us, it definitely does, but you can’t spend a lot of your energy worrying about it now.”

The Colonials will look to establish that inside game early against the Patriots, but in the way of the GW frontcourt will be a pair of 6-foot-8 big men: Johnny Williams and Erik Copes. Sophomore Kevin Larsen and senior Isaiah Armwood should be able to control the rebound game, though, as the Patriots only average 34.3 rebounds per game, ranking second to last in the conference.

On offense, GW will face a Patriots defense that allows 70 points per game to opponents at 44.6 percent shooting. Creek and Armwood, Lonergan said, will be looked to to steer GW forward, but someone like Mikic will be called on for increased production as well. Mikic was a solid contributor for the Colonials in the absence of Garino, averaging 9.8 points, but he has visibly regressed since, unable to find his touch until last Saturday against St. Bonaventure.

“Nemanja is a guy we’re going to have to get more out of, that’s for sure,” Lonergan said. “He’ll get more minutes, he’s definitely capable and coming off a pretty good game at St. Bonnies so he should be confident. Like I said, he’s a totally different player than Kethan, but we’re going to have to get him some shots and play to his strengths.”

The Patriots, on the other hand, are led by senior duo Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen, each averaging 14 points per game for head coach Paul Hewitt. GW will have to be careful with their pressure on GMU – who turns the ball over 14.6 times per game – as without Savage, the Colonials bench is even shorter than it already was. Early foul trouble would be an immediate red flag.

“They’re a very experienced team,” Lonergan said. “A lot of these guys are still there from coach Larrañaga, I think the senior class, so the expectations are really high for this group. We expect them to have a sold out crowd, have a great atmosphere, and we’re going to have to play really well.”

Fortunately, GW has already been in this type of situation once before this season. In late October, Garino was kept off the floor for multiple weeks with an injured index finger. During that time, GW lost just one game, with Creek and Savage picking up much of the clack.

“Not much is going to change at all,” Armwood said. “If you look at it, we missed Patricio at the beginning of the season, and we did well without him. Patricio is a starter so he’s going to insert his self into the starting lineup and fill Kethan’s role, but everybody’s got to step up individually a little bit more.”

GW and George Mason will face off Saturday at 12 p.m. at the Patriot Center.

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Junior guard Chakecia Miller squeezes pass a George Mason defender to go in for a layup during Saturday night’s game. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.

FAIRFAX, Va.- Adding injury to the insult of GW’s 94-68 win over George Mason Saturday, the Patriots may have some cricks in their necks in the morning.

Mason spent the entire 40 minutes looking up at the Colonials’ bigs, who dominated the game inside with 34 points in the paint.

Freshman Caira Washington and sophomore Jonquel Jones led the charge, scoring 21 and 22 points, respectively. Whether via a quick layup or at the charity stripe, GW’s plan was clear: get the ball in the post and exploit Mason’s size.

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis credited his frontcourt with “really moving their feet and getting around in the post and not letting [Mason have] any entry inside easily.”

Jones got the majority of the touches, and also the majority of Mason’s attention, her 22 points coming on 9-17 shooting as opposed to Washington’s clean 7-9. Jones also dominated off the glass with 16 rebounds, posting her fifth double-double in just eight games.

“[I am] able to front the post and play aggressive post defense without fouling, I think that’s one of the things that helped us. Just having that mentality when to go for a blocked shot or when to put your hands up,” Jones said.

The teams traded buckets for much of the first half, with Mason holding a slight edge due to it’s high-efficiency shooting. With under eight minutes left in the first half, the Patriots were shooting at a 55 percent clip, but that success was only temporary. Mason finished the game shooting just under 35 percent.

As the Patriots started to miss, the Colonials stuck to their game plan. They tied the game at 33 apiece and extended their lead in the final minutes of the first half, with a three from graduate student Megan Nipe sending them into the locker room up 48-41.

They kept rolling in the second, limiting Mason to just 27 points. By the final buzzer, two more Colonials had joined Washington and Jones in double figures: Chakecia Miller with 12 and Danni Jackson with 10. GW shot a neat 50 percent for the game.

Defensively, the Colonials relied less on Mason’s 16 turnovers and instead on pushing them out to the perimeter and denying them open looks as the shot-clock wound down.

Nipe saw increased minutes off the bench from her return in Thursday’s loss to league-leader Dayton, scoring eight points over 19 minutes, something her teammates were glad to see.

Her increased presence helped spread the floor for the Colonials, especially when playing opposite Jones. It was just the third game in which the two saw time on the court together, and the clearest exploitation to date of the Colonials inside-outside presence with both Nipe and Jones on the floor.

“Our post players know, that if our guards take a shot, ‘I know I’ll be on that other side to clean it up’ and our guards know that ‘if I get the ball inside, we’re going to get a pretty good look and be able to get the defense collapse’,” Tsipis said.

The bounceback win improves GW to 13-4 overall and 4-1 in league play. They return to the Smith Center on Wednesday to face last year’s conference champion Saint Joseph’s in their second match of the season. GW knocked off the Hawks 74-67 in a statement win on Jan. 5.

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Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 11:58 a.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball at George Mason

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.

Who: GW (12-5, 3-1) vs. George Mason (6-12, 0-5)
When: Saturday, Jan. 18 @ 7:00 p.m.
Where: Patriot Center

Case for George Mason:

Things haven’t come together for the Patriots thus far in conference play, but they have some high quality weapons at their disposal. Guard Taylor Brown is the Atlantic 10′s third-highest scorer and forward Janaa Pickard leads the league in rebounding. Both could pose problems on the perimeter and on the glass for the Colonials.

Sophomore Jonquel Jones fights off a defender earlier this season. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Sophomore Jonquel Jones fights off a defender earlier this season. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Additionally, junior Sandra Ngoie is coming off a 29-point explosion in her first career start for Mason in their last game – a 67-64 overtime loss at Richmond. She also pulled down nine rebounds in the game. Eighteen of Ngoie’s 29 points game on three-pointers, a potential problem for a GW team that was powerless to stop Dayton from three-point range Thursday, giving up 13 baskets from beyond the arc.

Mason will be looking to avenge its 72-56 loss in the Smith Center in the A-10 season opener, this time with the homecourt advantage.

Case for GW:

The Colonials, ranked fifth in the conference, already have a win against the Patriots this month, while Mason sits dead last in the standings. Even on the road, a GW victory seems likely in this one.

Sophomore Jonquel Jones has had four double-double performances in her last seven games. GW made a living inside off Mason the last time around, scoring 28 points in the paint, so Jones could fair very well once again come Saturday.

The silver lining to Thursday’s loss to league-leader Dayton appeared to be the return of graduate student Megan Nipe. Nipe had been sidelined since Dec. 21 with a right-knee injury, scoring seven points in just ten minutes of play. Unfortunately, Nipe left the game limping after diving for a loose ball and landing awkwardly on her knee. Head coach Jonathan Tsipis said after the game that she is good to go, but we’ll see Saturday if she gets additional playing time.

Mason doesn’t put a lot of pressure defensively on opponents, forcing just over 13
turnovers per game, so expect GW to have time to set up plays and control the pace of the game.

Mason has better tools than its record indicates, but it has squandered chances to put it all together. GW is the better team here, and barring any major collapse, should get back to their winning ways against the lowly Patriots.

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