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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Barbara Alberts.

After four quarters of regulation time and two overtime periods, women’s basketball (13-6, 6-1 A-10) pulled out a thrilling victory over Massachusetts (9-12, 3-5 A-10) in Saturday’s matinee.

The Colonials held the Minutewomen scoreless in the fourth quarter to send themselves to double overtime, where standout play by senior guard Hannah Schaible and graduate student Lexi Martins pushed the Colonial to their sixth Atlantic 10 conference win in a nail-biting 60-54 victory.

“I’m very pleased with how poised they stayed and how determined they were in order to figure out a way to win,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said.  “It just says a lot about the personalities of the team and how willing they are to fight for each other.”

Martins, the A-10 Player of the Week, led the floor with an incredible 25 points and 10 rebounds.  The forward is now seven-for-seven in double-doubles in league play.   

The Colonials entered Saturday’s matinee coming off a fourth-quarter win against Davidson Sunday. But out of the gate, GW didn’t seem to carry that momentum on road.

“I think that we were kind of taken aback a little bit with the aggressiveness of UMass’ zone (defense),” Rizzotti said.  “We were much too careless about the ball.”

The Minutewomen were carried by senior Alyx Stiff, who sparked the Minutewomen’s offense early in the game, going two-for-two from beyond the arc in the first quarter.

Despite leading the game heading into the second quarter, a four-minute scoring drought by the Colonials to open the period and continued hot shooting by Stiff allowed the Minutewomen to close the half shooting 55 percent from beyond the arc.

An airtight Massachusetts defense allowed the Colonials to pass the ball along the perimeter but packed the paint and stifled any interior play by GW.  The Colonials closed the half trailing 19-12 and shooting only 29 percent from the three-point line and scoring only four points in the paint with 10 turnovers.

The threes kept raining down on the Colonials after the break.

The Minutewomen held the Colonials to single-digit scoring and dropped 21 points in the third quarter as Massachusetts went six-for-12 from the three-point line, extending their lead to 47-32 heading into the final frame.  It seemed like the Minutewomen could not miss an outside shot, but it wasn’t over for the Colonials.

“We just focused in and we stopped messing around,” Schaible said.  “We just did what we were supposed to do.  We kind of dug in and had more pride in our defense than anything.”

In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, senior guard Shannon Cranshaw hit a deep three point shot to ignite the Colonial offense.

Freshman guard Kendall Bresee quickly followed with a three of her own to give the Colonials six unanswered points and cut the Minutewomen’s lead to single digits.

With a little over one minute left in the fourth quarter, Bresee put up a beautiful three and nailed the shot to knot the game at 47 points a piece, sending the match into overtime.

“Kendall Bresee was phenomenal off the bench today, with her energy, with her scoring,” Rizzotti said.

The Colonials’ impenetrable defense shut down the Minutewomen and held them scoreless in the fourth quarter.

With their shooting still shaky, it came down to the Colonials’ defense to pull out the win in overtime.   

“Honestly, it was all about us getting defensive stops,” Rizzotti said.  “We limited UMass to seven points in the fourth quarter and two overtimes, so in 20 minutes our defense was phenomenal, and that’s what helped us win a game on a night when we couldn’t make a shot.”  

Playing in her signature scrappy style, Schaible came up big for the Colonials in crunch-time.  Schaible had a chance to win the game with one second left on the clock in the first overtime period, but her made layup was called back by the officials and sent the game into another round of overtime.    

“Man, I wanted it to get off on time,” Schaible said.  “We were really fired up from that, but we were prepared once they were reviewing it to keep playing through if they called it back.”

The senior guard grabbed 13 boards in the game and snagged five steals to go alongside her nine points, four of which came in the second overtime period to help pull the Colonials ahead of the Minutewomen.

Clutch free throw shots by sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista in the final minutes of the game solidified the Colonials’ hard-earned victory.

“I always tell (the team), ‘You know what, we work too hard preseason, and we had too many great non-conference games, to play and come up short, so either we pull through and win together as a team, or we can be a team that wants to quit,” Bautista said.  “And for us, under coach Rizzotti, that’s not even an option for us as a team.”

The Colonials ended the defensive slug-fest shooting only 27 percent from the field, but it was their 57 rebounds, 21 points of turnovers and 13 steals that kept them alive at the end of the game.

The Colonials continue their road trip when they visit the St. Louis Billikens on Thursday, January 26.  Tip off is scheduled for 8p.m.

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Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista dribbles during GW's win over Davidson Sunday. Bautisita

Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista dribbles during GW’s win over Davidson Sunday. Bautista led GW with four assists and added three steals in the 14-point victory. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal.

With GW’s leading scorer out of the lineup due to injury, graduate transfer Lexi Martins stepped in to record her fifth consecutive double-double and lead women’s basketball (12-6, 5-1 A-10) to a 76-62 victory over the Davidson Wildcats (2-15, 0-5 A-10) Sunday afternoon.

Martins took advantage of her first start of the season, recording 14 points and ten boards while filling in for senior forward Caira Washington, who was forced to watch from the sidelines with a sprained wrist. Martins has now recorded a double-double in all six conference games thus far.

“Sometimes it’s a good scenario to have in the middle of the season, when you’re in a position where you need certain guys to step up,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “It’s good for our team to have to rally together and figure out a way to do that and they did…I felt like we had a really good identity as a group.”

Martins was one of four players in double figures for the Colonials. Senior shooting guard Shannon Cranshaw knocked down four of five triples and had a season-high and game-best 15 points on the day, and sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista recorded 10 points and three steals.

After recording a career-high nine assists against George Mason, Bautista again did a good job directing the offense, dishing a team-high four assists and committing just one turnover. Prange (12p, 4r) rounded out the Colonials’ scoring with double-digits.

“I know Coach Rizzotti is really tough on [Mei-Lyn], and I think of the three of us, by-committee, she’s our best point guard,” Cranshaw said of Bautista. “She’s so unselfish…I’m very proud of what she’s done so far and I know the sky’s the limit for what she can do at GW.”

Both teams started slow, shooting a combined 4-for-20 before the first media timeout and committing 12 combined turnovers in the opening quarter. However, the Colonials opened up an early 13-6 lead thanks to a 7-0 run to close the quarter. Justine Lyon scored all six points for the Wildcats in the opening period.

After the Colonials got out to a double-digit lead early in the second quarter, sloppy play by GW led to a furious 19-0 Davidson run that spanned over six minutes. After a flurry of three pointers to close the period, both teams went into the locker room tied at 29, with Cranshaw leading the Colonials behind perfect 3-for-3 shooting from beyond the arc in the half.

“I know going into games that opposing teams really worry about our post play, so when I go in it’s my role to help relieve some pressure,” Cranshaw said. “I’ve just been getting in the gym over winter break since we’ve had extra time…and I’m happy that today it was able to come together and I was able to step up when we were missing some shots early.”

GW continued to look out of sync to start the third quarter, as they gave up an early 8-2 run and allowed Davidson’s leading scorer Mackenzie Latt to net eight points through the first seven minutes. However, Latt left to the locker room with a knee injury, and Cranshaw hit a long three to end the period as the Colonials closed to within one, 44-43, heading into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the spotlight was on GW’s interior duo of Prange and Martins, who kept the Colonials afloat without Washington. Prange went on a solo 6-0 run with three straight makes to open the final period, and Martins followed up with a 6-0 run of her own after a Davidson three. Behind a 13-3 run, the Colonials took control and never looked back.

Despite playing with four fouls, Martins posted six defensive rebounds and two blocks, and after the game she stressed that she was more pleased with her defensive performance than her ability to carry the offense.

“I’m just trying to make sure that I’m getting my hands on defensive rebounds and finishing out defensive possessions,” Martins said. “Coach Rizzotti and the staff really stresses the focus and the attention to detail on the defensive end more than I’ve been used to in my college career.”

 

The Colonials will be back in action next Saturday as they travel to Amherst, MA to face to the UMass Minutewomen. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.

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Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 11:17 a.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball vs. Davidson

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal. 

What: Women’s basketball (11-6, 4-1 A-10) vs. Davidson (2-14, 0-4 A-10)

When: Sunday, January 15 at 2 p.m., CBSSN (TV)

Where: Charles E. Smith Center, Washington, D.C.

The Colonials will look to pick up their fifth win in six games as they host the Davidson Wildcats at the Smith Center, where GW is 6-1 this season and 47-7 over the past four years.

Case for the Colonials

When they faced off against the George Mason Patriots this past Wednesday, a normally-staunch Colonials defense gave up 32 first-half points and struggled to find stops before turning it around in the second half and overtime en route to a comeback victory.

After that game, head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said that her team is still working towards playing with intensity and energy for a full 40 minutes. They will get another shot to do so against a vulnerable Davidson team that is winless through four games of conference play.

The Colonials, owners of the third best scoring offense in the conference at 66.3 points per game, should find success on the offensive end against the Wildcats, who concede a conference-worst 72.1 points per game and allow opposing teams to shoot 41.5 percent from the field. The numbers seem to suggest that GW could be looking at a blowout victory, as one of the league’s top offenses faces off against one of the league’s weakest defenses.

Graduate transfer forward Lexi Martins continues to shine in A-10 play, averaging 14.5 points and 10.8 rebounds over the last four games and recording four consecutive double-doubles. Caira Washington, the team’s leading scorer, is averaging 11.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, making the duo of Martins and Washington one of the most explosive in the league and one that few teams have been able to limit.

Defensively, the Colonials must primarily focus on stopping two Wildcats – junior forward Mackenzie Latt and sophomore guard Justine Lyon, who are averaging 36.5 of the team’s 63.0 points per game in conference play. The Colonials can expect this duo to have the ball in their hands for most of the game, and if they are able to limit either player, they should avoid an upset.

Case for the Wildcats

The Colonials should be heavily favored in this game, but that makes it even more of a must-win game for GW. Should they let their guard down, any team in the Atlantic 10 could be capable of upsetting the Colonials and handing the back-to-back Atlantic 10 champions a bad loss. To illustrate, the Colonials’ lack of defensive focus led to a 66-61 loss to American University last month, a Patriot League team that was just 2-5 at the time.

One of the keys to American’s success was slowing down the normally uptempo GW offense, which feeds off of pushing the pace off of defensive stops and scoring points in transition. The Wildcats should look to emulate this strategy on the defensive end to limit the explosive Colonials offense, which scored 58 points in the second half and overtime against George Mason.

One way the Wildcats can slow down the Colonials is by looking to capitalize on their ability to force turnovers in order to get stops. They are one of the best in the conference when it comes to forcing turnovers via steals, with 8.3 per game; the Colonials will have to be careful with the rock.

Offensively, the Wildcats also have one of the most potent scoring duos in the league Latt and Lyon. Latt is a career 1000-point scorer who is averaging 15.7 ppg, the fourth-best mark in the conference, to go along with a team-best 8.3 rebounds. The last eight games combined, Latt is averaging a near double-double (19.8 ppg/9.8 rpg) and Justine Lyon has averages of 17.9 points and 5.5 rebounds.

However, the key for the Wildcats will be to get production from supporting players such as Chloe Johnson and Melanie Ransom, who need to be reliable third options to give their team a chance.

Bottom Line:

The Colonials have blown out the Wildcats in their previous two meetings and Sunday may be no different. With their balanced offensive attack facing a struggling defense, GW should be heavily favored at home.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal.

In game one of the annual Revolutionary Rivalry series between the two local foes, women’s basketball (11-6, 4-1 A-10) outlasted the George Mason Patriots (9-9, 2-3 A-10), 79-71, in overtime.

Once again, the Colonials received a stellar performance from graduate transfer Lexi Martins, who recorded her fourth consecutive double-double with 16 points and ten rebounds. The Lehigh transfer has been on a tear of late, averaging 13.8 points and 10.8 boards in conference play, both team-highs.

“[Martins] does a great job of reading the offense, working really hard on the low block to get position and being ready to shoot on the kick-outs from Caira,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “It’s a matter of her fitting in well in our offensive system and being confident in that system and our guys are doing a great job of getting her the ball when she’s open.”

Martins – who also collected her 1,000th career rebound during the contest – was one of five upperclassmen in double-figures for the Colonials. The team’s veteran leadership and experience keyed a second half comeback in which GW outscored the Patriots 18-4 in the third quarter to erase an 11-point, 32-21 halftime deficit.

Nonetheless, Rizzotti was unhappy with the team’s slow start to the game, in which the Colonials shot 29 percent from the field in the first half.

“As happy as I was with our intensity in the third quarter, I was kind of disappointed with how we started the game – it wasn’t the intensity we needed to have on both ends of the floor,” Rizzotti said. “We’re still trying to address that and talk about being a consistent team for 40 minutes.”

In the frontcourt, senior center Caira Washington posted 16 points and nine rebounds while also recording two blocks, making her defensive presence felt inside. Senior guard Hannah Schaible also matched her season-high with a team-leading 20 points to go along with nine rebounds, helping to close out the game with 13 of the team’s 18 points in the extra period. Junior forward Kelli Prange (12p) and senior shooting guard Shannon Cranshaw (10p) rounded out the five upperclassmen in double figures.

The Colonials looked out-of-sync and sluggish in the first 20 minutes, shooting just 1-of-11 from beyond the arc and allowed George Mason to get to the line repeatedly. And, despite being one of the best defensive teams in the conference, the Colonials allowed the Patriots to shoot 54 percent from the field in the opening frame.

The Colonials flipped the script in the third quarter, opening with full-court pressure to tire out the opponent and force more perimeter jump shots. Offensively, the Colonials fed off of their defense, finding easy looks in the post and knocking down three-pointers on kick-outs after drawing the defense in.

“We went to an extended zone press and I thought that it really flustered them – they were 1- for-13 in the third quarter,” Rizzotti said of the Colonials’ second-half adjustment. “But I think the fact that we got a lot more shots, we got a bunch of offensive rebounds and we were able to force some turnovers really got our intensity and our excitement up.”

The Patriots were led by redshirt junior guard Kara Wright, who leads her team in scoring, assists, and rebounds. Wright had 23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, doing much of her damage early in the game and late in the fourth quarter but struggling to score during GW’s comeback.

Although the Colonials held an eight-point lead with 2:03 to go, poor free throw shooting by GW left room for a George Mason comeback down the stretch. After Schaible split a pair of free throws to put the Colonials up 60-57, Wright got the ball out of a timeout and sunk a long three from the top of the key to send the game into overtime.

In the extra period, the Patriots ran out of gas after losing two of their top three scorers – Sylvia Maxwell and Alexsis Grate – to foul trouble and injury, respectively. The Colonials were able to close out the game thanks to Schaible, who scored 13 overtime points.

“I was just able to knock down shots and I had a lot more openings in the overtime,” Schaible said. “Since we were really well-conditioned we could cut really hard. With my foul situation I was out of the game a lot and I got a lot of rest, so I was able to play really hard and find open shots.”

Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista was nearly flawless running the point, recording a career-high nine assists after having zero in a loss to Dayton on Sunday. Bautista’s only blemish was a single turnover late in the game.

“I like to be very unselfish, and that’s my goal every time I go in the game. Today our movement made it so much better for me to see the post, see my links in transition,” Bautista said. “When we’re all on the same page, everyone achieves their goals, and that was my goal today – just to get my teammates the ball.”

The Colonials return home to face the Davidson Wildcats on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Barbara Alberts.

Women’s basketball head coach Jennifer Rizzotti participated in a panel discussion about sexual assault for the “It’s on Us” campaign summit at the White House last week.

Rizzotti, alongside Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette V. McGlade, spoke on a panel called “Changing the Culture Through Sports.” Panelists motivated students to take a stand against sexual violence and to prevent sexual assault. 

Other members of the panel included the NCAA Chief of Staff Cari Van Senus, Jen Zudonyi of Major League Baseball and Temple University football player Jacob Martin.  The panel was moderated by Neil Irvin, the executive director of Men Can Stop Rape.

The “It’s on Us” campaign began three years ago with the goal to change how sexual assault is talked about on college campuses. University president Steven Knapp signed onto the campaign when it launched.

Rizzotti said in an interview that as the women’s basketball head coach she feels a responsibility to use her position to help spread the message of the “It’s on Us” campaign and to battle the stigma around sexual violence.

“It’s important when you’re a role model in the community to make sure that you stay involved in anything that can make a difference,” Rizzotti said.  “As a college basketball coach, where you’re daily in touch with 18-to-22-year-olds, certainly part of my job is to make sure I make a positive impact on their lives in ways other than [on the court].”

Rizzotti said her position in D.C. makes her even more motivated to contribute to social causes.   

“Part of the decision for me to move from Connecticut to D.C. was to make sure that I wasn’t in an insulated lifestyle where I wasn’t able to make an impact beyond just my own family and my women’s basketball team,” Rizzotti said.  “Being in D.C. I feel an increased responsibility to be socially conscious and to make sure I’m participating in things that really make a difference.”

Rizzotti’s team has also inspired her to continue to use her voice to help bring change to the GW community, she said. 

“I’ve been impressed with my own student athletes and how much they care about what’s going on in the world around them,” Rizzotti said.  “I want to make sure I’m living up to my part in that as well.”  

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Marty Fenn.

In a defensive battle of wills, the Dayton Flyers (9-7, 3-1 A-10) handed women’s basketball (10-6, 3-1 A-10) its first conference loss of the year on a chilly Sunday afternoon in Ohio where the weather was as symbolic of both teams’ cold shooting as anything else.

Graduate forward Lexi Martins recorded her third consecutive double-double for the Colonials, posting 11 points and 12 rebounds, while senior frontcourt-mate Caira Washington added 10 points, nine boards, and four blocks in the 50-48 defeat.

Guard Kelley Austria led the Flyers with 19 points, while forward Saicha Grant-Allen posted eight points and 12 rebounds in a solid overall performance. GW shot just 31 percent from the field – its second-worst clip this season – and Dayton couldn’t do much better at 33 percent, as both team struggled to find a consistent offensive presence.

“Dayton’s big and they did a nice job of pushing our posts off the block,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “I think sometimes we need to have a bit more patience and try to get spacing so we can also attack off the dribble.

“I think [Dayton and GW] are two of the better defensive teams in the league.”

The Flyers appeared to put the Colonials away early, storming out to a 16-2 lead in the first quarter behind strong play from guard Jenna Burdette – who led all players with 11 assists – and Grant-Allen, who worked the pick-and-roll to perfection. The Flyers scored in the paint at will, asserting their dominance in the area en route to a 26-16 advantage in the lane for the game.

However, GW would not go down quietly. Martins and junior winger Brianna Cummings were able to get to the free throw line and help GW build some momentum and get back into the game. After a 21-6 run spanning the two quarters, the Colonials had their first lead midway through the second period.

The two teams went into the break all squared up at 29, and the second half proved to be a tense back-and-forth affair, with neither team willing to give ground or take a definitive advantage in the contest. Every time GW would run a post action to get an easy bucket for Washington, Dayton would seem to answer with a bucket from Austria, or a trip to the line down the stretch.

With neither team able to seize control, the game was still up in the air with two minutes to play in the final period and the score tied at 46 apiece. Washington, on a GW miss, stole the ball away from multiple Flyers defenders and scored on a putback to give the Colonials a lead, only to have Austria answer with a huge triple and put Dayton back on top 49-48 with 1:50 to play.

“We had a few defensive lapses in that stretch in the fourth quarter,” said Rizzotti.  “There was a defensive switch where we gave up [Austria’s three], and it was just one of those things where obviously those kinds of plays become more costly in a close game.”

GW had multiple chances to tie the game or take the lead in the closing moments, but senior Hannah Schaible dribbled the ball off her own foot with under 20 seconds to play, and a post entry slipped through Washington’s hands in the final seconds.

“We need to execute plays better and get consistent defensive stops in order to close out games,” said Washington.

After a final desperation heave at the buzzer by senior guard Camila Tapias fell short, the Colonials found themselves on the losing end of a conference game for the first time this year.

GW will travel to Fairfax, Va. to take on the George Mason Patriots on Wednesday. Tip-off is slated for 11 a.m.

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Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017 12:28 p.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball at Dayton

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Marty Fenn.

What: Women’s Basketball (10-5, 3-0 A-10) at Dayton (8-7, 2-1 A-10)

When: Sunday, January 8 at 3 p.m. EST

Where: UD Arena, Dayton, Ohio

The Colonials have won three straight and are looking to remain undefeated in conference play as they travel to Dayton to take on the Flyers in a high-powered matchup.

The case for the Colonials

GW has held its last two opponents to under 50 points, pummeling Duquesne 75–40 before grinding out a 53-44 victory over Saint Joseph’s at the Smith Center. The Colonials’ staunch defensive efforts are a huge plus as they get set to face the Flyers, who rank second in the Atlantic 10 in scoring with 66.9 points per game.

Perhaps the best sign for the Colonials has been the phenomenal play of graduate senior forward Lexi Martins, who has posted consecutive double-doubles after a 17 point, 11 rebound performance against the Hawks on Wednesday. Martins’ growing scoring presence will force opponents to respect her in the paint and from the perimeter, opening up the floor more for senior forward Caira Washington, who has been the subject of double teams all season.

Dayton has struggled to control the ball, averaging over 16 turnovers per game. This bodes extremely well for the Colonials, who have forced 36 takeaways in the last two games. The versatility of the wing players like seniors Hannah Schaible and Shannon Cranshaw and junior Brianna Cummings has allowed coach Jennifer Rizzotti to work in both big and small lineups, and give the bigs like Washington a breather when needed.

Rizzotti remarked after the Duquesne contest that her players were “fired up” to begin conference play, and the Colonials’ performance in the last two games suggest they are not going to simply give games away. The ability of Martins and Prange to stretch the floor and bring 6-foot-5-inch Dayton forward Saicha Grant-Allen out of the paint will open up possibilities for the Colonials. Expect them to take advantage.

The case for the Flyers

After a rough start to their 2016-2017 campaign, Dayton has rebounded nicely. The Flyers responded to a 3-6 start by winning five of their next six games, including a blowout win over a good Texas A&M team and a thrilling 62-60 nail-biter against St. Bonaventure on Wednesday.

The Flyers can put the ball in the hoop, and have an interesting assortment of weapons. Guard Jenna Burdette was named first team all-conference, and is the Flyers’ leading scorer with 12.5 points per game. Burdette can also distribute the rock and get into the paint, while also being able to knock down the three ball. Backcourt mate Kelley Austria also offers a weapon from beyond the arc, and the Flyers will need to knock down their perimeter shots to have a chance at defeating the Colonials.

The X-factor for Dayton, however, may be Grant-Allen. The 6-foot-5-inch forward was dominant for the Flyers in last year’s matchup… at least for a quarter. Grant-Allen scored six point and had four rebounds early, but foul trouble hampered her for the rest of the game, and the Colonials capitalized on her absence.

Grant-Allen averages 9.8 points 7.2 rebounds per game, but she only plays 26.3 minutes per contest. The Flyers will need her on the floor more, as her presence in the paint could do wonders in opening up the floor for Burdette to create.

The Bottom Line

Dayton has recovered nicely from their sore start, but GW is playing great basketball, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. If Martins continues to find ways to score and the guards control the turnover battle, GW should have enough to come out of Dayton with a win.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Barbara Alberts.

Women’s basketball (10-5, 3-0 A10) had to dig deep on Wednesday night to pull out its Atlantic 10 win over Saint Joseph’s (3-11, 0-2 A10) in a contest that came down to the wire at the Smith Center.

After a decisive victory over the Duquesne Dukes on New Year’s Day, the Colonials struggled to keep the Hawks at bay in the first three quarters. It took an offensive comeback in the fourth quarter to secure a 53–44 victory.

“I thought that for a night where our offense wasn’t particularly smooth or clicking…I was impressed with our grit to get the stops that we needed on the defensive end and obviously make a few plays at the end to give us enough of a lead to finish the game out,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said.

Graduate student forward Lexi Martins came up big for GW in the last minutes of the fourth quarter, closing out the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds to earn her second double-double in a row, and the 45th in her career.

Seniors Hannah Schaible and Caira Washington both reached career milestones in the game. Schaible scored her 1,000th career point early in the first quarter and Washington picked up eight rebounds in the game to move her up to the second most rebounds in program history with 976 boards to her name.

The Hawks entered the match looking to snap a three-game losing streak, but with their offense unable to find its footing early in the game, it was an uphill battle for the Hawks from the tip off.

The Colonials jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first quarter, holding the Hawks to a single made-basket halfway through the quarter.

Swift passing from GW tied up the Hawks defense while an unorganized and disjointed Hawks offense was held to just 33.3 percent from the field to the Colonials’ 50 percent to make way for a 17-11 GW lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Colonials offense cooled off in the second quarter as the Hawks found their groove from beyond the arc.  Sharpshooting from SJU’s Kritalyn Baisden wreaked havoc on the Colonials, as the sophomore guard dropped 3-of-4 from beyond the arc to drive a 10-0 Hawks run and help tie the game at 21 midway through the second quarter.

Scrappy hustle plays from sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista and key rebounds from Schaible gave the Colonials second-chance possessions, keeping the Colonials afloat. Turnovers were the Colonials’ Achilles heel.  The Hawks scored six unearned points off 10 Colonial miscues, narrowing GW’s lead 30–26 going into the break.

“I felt like we were in a rush and so we got a little sloppy,” Rizzotti said.  “We just talked about being more patient, running our offense through, and making sure that we’re a little bit more sharp with the basketball.”

With both teams shooting less than 34 percent from the field and poorly handling the ball in the third quarter, it was play in the final frame that would decide the game.

The Hawks offense gutted it out in the fourth quarter, and a deep two from senior guard Jaryn Garner tied the game, 40-40.    

Martins answered back with a powerful drive to the rim that quickly give the Colonials their lead back with just under four minutes left in the game.

“I think just having been in game situations before, and having played in fourth quarter games for the duration of my career,” Martins said. “It makes me more comfortable to be out there.” 

After rebounding her own missed shot, Schaible dished a pass to Martins, who banked in a bucket and got an and-1 to solidify GW’s hard-earned 51-44 victory.

The Colonials ended the night shooting only 36.4 percent from the field, but it was 24 points from the bench and 15 points off of Hawks turnovers that allowed the Colonials to finish the night with their third conference win.

“What I think is special about all of our team is that they’re very in-tune to team achievement right now, and very concerned with how we do as a group,” Rizzotti said. “That’s what makes them so special and so fun to coach.” 

Next, the Colonials travel to Ohio to face the Dayton Flyers on Jan. 8.  Tip-off is set for 3 p.m

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Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017 2:43 p.m.

Women’s basketball mid-season observations

Senior guard Shannon Cranshaw battles a defender at American on Dec. 7. Cranshaw's 41.7 percent three-point shooting clip is second-best in the Atlantic 10.

Senior guard Shannon Cranshaw battles a defender at American on Dec. 7. Cranshaw’s 41.7 percent three-point shooting clip is second-best in the Atlantic 10. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal.

Midway through the regular season, a women’s basketball beat writer shares five observations on the Colonials’ out-of-conference performance:

1. Convincing wins and close losses

Despite five non-conference losses, the two-time Atlantic 10 Champion Colonials (9-5, 2-0 A-10) currently own the third-best winning percentage in the A-10 and are tied for first place with Fordham (11-5, 2-0 A-10) and George Mason (9-6, 2-0 A-10).

GW has also played better than their record suggests. Of the five losses, three have been by fewer than five points, and both double-digit losses were close games in the fourth quarter. In the season-opener against Georgetown, the Colonials led by one point with under five minutes remaining before conceding an 18-2 Hoya run. More recently against No.11 Stanford, the Colonials trailed by just eight points in the fourth quarter before the Cardinal pulled away.

On the flip side, they have been recording convincing victories – eight of GW’s nine wins have come by double-digits, including a 29-point victory over Florida Gulf-Coast and a 31-point rout of Coppin State. More recently, the Colonials blew out the Duquesne Dukes, 75-40, in an impressive road performance on New Year’s Day.

2. Statistical dominance

The Colonials are adjusting well to the new system implemented by first-year head coach Jennifer Rizzotti. Her scheme has been successful on both sides of the ball, and statistically, the Colonials are top-three in the A-10 in several offensive and defensive categories. Further, in its composite statistical rankings, the Jeff Sagarin/CBN Women’s College Basketball Ratings ranks GW at 53 out of 349 Division I teams, 21 spots ahead of the next-best A-10 team (St. Louis, 74).

On offense, GW has benefited from high-quality shot selection and strong post-play. The Colonials are second in FG percentage (42.1%), second in scoring offense (67.6 ppg), and second in assists per game (16.6).

Defensively, the Colonials own the conference’s top field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to just 35.2 percent shooting from the field. GW is also third in three-point field-goal percentage defense (27.1%).

The Colonials have been dominant around the rim and inside of the restricted zone, piling up rebounds and blocks. They are first in the A-10 in rebounding offense (43.4), first in rebounding margin (+8.6), and first in blocked shots (6.5) – the ninth-best mark in all of NCAA Division I.

3. Strong interior play

Senior center Caira Washington has been a consistent presence in the paint for the Colonials, posting 12.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. The Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Conference First Team selection has scored in double figures in 11 of 14 games and leads the Colonials with four double-doubles. Washington’s greatest improvement from her junior season has been her efficiency– she tops the conference at 65.0 percent shooting from the field, good for seventh in the country. Defensively, she places second in the A-10 in blocked shots per game (2.1) and third in offensive rebounds (3.9).

Washington’s supporting cast includes junior Kelli Prange and graduate transfer Lexi Martins. Prange, a stretch-four, is averaging 12.5 points over her last three games; she stuffed the stat sheet with a season-high 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting with three blocks, three assists, two rebounds and two steals against Loyola (Md.) in the non-conference finale.

Martins, who is rebounding at an impressive clip of 14.2 boards per 40 minutes, was the best player on the court in GW’s New Year’s Day rout of Duquesne. The 1000-point transfer from Lehigh had 14 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, and a career-high four steals against the Dukes en route to her 44th career double-double.

4. Reserve guards producing

Off the bench, senior shooting guard Shannon Cranshaw has been a pivotal piece of the Colonial offense. She ranks second in the A-10 in three-point shooting, connecting on 41.7 percent of attempts from the field. A career 33 percent shooter from downtown, Cranshaw has hit multiple threes in seven games.

After missing three games with a hand injury, junior Camila Tapias saw limited action in her return vs. Stanford but has since played a major role in the lineup. In her last two games, Tapias has scored 20 points and has converted on 60 percent of her three-point attempts. She posted her highest total of the season against Duquesne with 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from distance.

Currently, Tapias ranks third in the A-10 in three-point shooting, right behind Cranshaw. Asked about Tapias’ performance after GW’s blowout of Duquesne, Rizzotti was extremely pleased with what she saw.

“It definitely hurt us, the three games that [Camila Tapias] missed,” Rizzotti said. “She is obviously somebody that can really get hot for us, and somebody that can also be great on defense.”

Playing behind guards Mei-Lyn Bautista and Tapias, freshman Kendall Bresee has made the most of her limited minutes in a reserve role. The local product from Frederick, Md. posted a season-best four assists, zero turnovers versus Loyola (Md.), and has seen an expanded role with 11 minutes and then 14 minutes against Stanford and Loyola.

5. Records Watch

Starting guard Hannah Schaible, who Rizzotti has regularly referred to as the team’s “glue guy,” is just five points away from becoming the 32nd member of GW’s 1000-point club – and the third 1000-point scorer on the active roster.  Schaible posted eight points, seven rebounds, and two blocks against Duquesne and is currently tied with teammate Bautista for the sixth-best assist-to-turnover ratio in the conference (1.6).

Washington, who has 968 career rebounds, needs just three boards to pass GW Athletics Hall of Famer Tajama Abraham (970) for second-most in GW history. If she pulls down just 32 more rebounds over the remaining 13 games, Washington will become the second player in program history to finish her playing career with 1000 points and 1000 rebounds.

“If you look at what she’s done already in her career, it’s pretty remarkable –  and she has yet to be the first option in the offense until this year,” Rizzotti said of Washington after a loss to Stanford on Dec. 21. “And, she’s performing so well even though she’s probably never faced as many double teams as she has this year.”

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Marty Fenn.

On the first day of 2017, women’s basketball kicked off the New Year with a bang.

GW (9-5, 2-0 A-10) walloped Duquesne (7-8, 0-2 A-10) 75-40 on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh, dominating both sides of the ball in their second Atlantic 10 contest of the season.

The Colonials tied a season-high with 25 assists and had three players in double-figures, including a massive game from graduate student forward Lexi Martins, who had four steals to go along with 14 points and 10 rebounds against the Dukes, who were picked to finish second in this year’s A-10 Preseason Poll.

The game was essentially a formality after a first quarter in which the Colonials raced out to an 18-2 lead, and closed on a 10-0 run to end the period with a 31-8 advantage. From there GW controlled the game, smothering the Dukes defensively and forcing 21 turnovers, capitalizing for 24 points off of giveaways. Everyone contributed in what was certainly one of GW’s finest performances of the season.

“We talked earlier in the season about how we want to have five different options on the floor at all times because it makes us so much harder to guard,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said.

The scoring distribution across the board was a result of strong backcourt performances from the likes of sophomore Mei-Lyn Bautista and seniors Camila Tapias and Shannon Cranshaw, who found ways to establish the bigs in the paint while creating opportunities for themselves.

Bautista in particular controlled the tempo of the game, pushing the ball in transition off of Duquesne misses and running the half-court offense through the post players. Bautista posted seven assists, but perhaps more importantly, she did not commit a single turnover.

“I take a lot of pride in not having any [turnovers],” Bautista said. “When we’re taking care of the ball and moving it around, it makes the whole group more cohesive…I would rather have zero points and a bunch of assists, that’s just how I love to play.”

As a guard herself in her playing days at UConn, Rizzotti understands how essential it is to have a player that find different ways to provide offense.

“We knew that the point guard position was going to be our X-Factor,” Rizzotti said. “We have those two different playing styles with Mei-Lyn kind of setting her own tempo and being a distributor and a threat from the perimeter, and then you have Cami [Tapias] who is more of that scoring point guard. But when they get going they’re really an engine for our offense.”

The Colonials were stout defensively as well, holding Duquesne to just 15-for-55 shooting from the floor (27.3 percent).

For her part, the experienced Martins was doing it all for the Colonials, getting steals, blocking sots, firing from beyond the arc and taking the ball strong to the hole.

Rizzotti and the coaching staff had been encouraging Martins to be more assertive in the paint, and the Lehigh transfer was more than willing to oblige.

“Our guards did a great job of finding ways to get us the ball in good spots,” Martins said.  “You want to make sure that you balance where your shots are coming from, and that’s what we got today.”

Perhaps the best tell of GW’s dominance came at the end of the third quarter when Tapias’ half-court heave at the buzzer found nothing but net. On this New Year’s Day, they could do no wrong.

GW will look to run their winning streak to three games as they return home to face Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 4 at the Smith Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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