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Junior guard Brianna Cummings stares down an American defender Wednesday night. Cummings posted 10 points and 8 rebounds in the overtime loss. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer

Junior guard Brianna Cummings stares down an American defender Wednesday night. Cummings posted 10 points and 8 rebounds in the overtime loss. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Marty Fenn.

In one of the most grueling contests of the season for women’s basketball, the Colonials were dealt a tough 66-61 overtime defeat at American on Wednesday evening as guard Elina Koskimies hit a three-pointer with 13 seconds remaining in overtime to seal the victory for her team.

Koskimies was all alone in the corner after the Eagles (3-5) executed a pick-and-roll, with forward Cecily Carl getting into the lane on the slide and then finding Koskimies for the open jumper.

The Colonials (7-3) had a chance to tie at the other end, but graduate forward Lexi Martins turned the ball over, and two free throws later the Colonials’ four-game win streak had ended.

“It was a defensive lapse,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said of the play that put the Eagles up for good. “We got switched on our match-ups and had a post player guarding a shooter.  We had to help crash on the drive and they found the open man in the corner.”

The Colonials received strong contributions once again from seniors Hannah Schaible and Caira Washington, as Schaible poured in 19 points and five rebounds while Washington had 11 points, 7 boards and 4 assists.

Junior Brianna Cummings also had a good performance, as she scored 10 points and pulled down 8 boards. However, it would not be enough as American had five players score in double-figures, including a well-rounded game from junior guard Maria Liddane, who tallied 11 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.

The Colonials trailed nearly the entire game and the entirety of the fourth quarter until a layup by Washington put them up 54-53 with just under three minutes to play.

After Eagles forward Cecily Carl leveled the game at 57 apiece with 34 seconds left in regulation, the Colonials had one more offensive possession to drain the clock and potentially win the game.

It didn’t pan out, as Schaible’s post entry to Washington was knocked away, and a mad scramble for the ball sent the game into overtime, where the Eagles eventually prevailed.

The game lacked pace all night, as both teams milked the shot clock looking for quality chances. Likewise, a combined 35 turnovers between the two teams left much to be desired on that side of the floor, seeing as both teams shot better than 43 percent from the floor for the game: the Colonials shot 43.1 percent, the Eagles 48.1

“Before the game we talked about how it was going to be [American’s] game plan to slow us down,” Rizzotti said. “I thought we were very impatient, and we didn’t let our offense work for us.

The Colonials outrebounded the Eagles 34-26 and had an astonishing advantage in second-chance points (21-4), but American scored 25 points off of GW turnovers and went 11 of 13 from the free throw line while GW was just 6 of 14 from the charity stripe.

“They were the first team all season that really pushed us to work through the shot clock,” Cummings said.  “We just have to do a better job of making the right pass and moving the ball around.”

The Colonials will hit the road for a tough tests against South Dakota State on Sunday before returning home to face a No. 10 Stanford squad at the Smith Center on Dec. 21. Tip-off on Sunday is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 3:02 p.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball vs. American

This post was written Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal.

What: GW Women’s Basketball (7-2, 1-0 A-10) at American (2-5)

Where: Bender Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.

Looking for their fifth consecutive win, women’s basketball will make the short trip to Tenleytown to face crosstown rival American.

The case for the Colonials

Winners of four straight games, the Colonials have not lost since dropping a close game to then-No.11 Syracuse in the opening round of the Gulf Coast Showcase. Since then, they have outscored opponents by an average margin of 19.5 points, including victories over Atlantic 10 rival VCU and Big Ten opponent Illinois.

The Colonials are led by senior forward Caira Washington, who is averaging 12.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Washington, shooting 68.5 percent from the field, ranks first in the A-10 and third nationally in the category.

Backing up Washington, graduate student forward Lexi Martins has shined over her past two outings, averaging ten points and nine rebounds in just seventeen minutes of action off the bench. Her shot-blocking and size could cause problems for the Eagles in the paint, and her shooting prowess should help spread the floor.

In the backcourt, head coach Jennifer Rizzotti has found stability thanks to excellent play from senior Hannah Schaible and sophomore Mei-Lyn Bautista. The veteran leadership of Schaible has made her the “glue guy” early in the season, and the whole offense seems to run more smoothly when she is on the court.

The Colonials have not lost since inserting Bautista into the lineup on Nov. 26, in large part due to her court-vision and excellent ball-handling. Bautista is averaging 4.5 assists per game in her last four outings and has been a vocal leader on the court.

The case for the Eagles

The Eagles will look to close off a three-game home stretch with a win after a disappointing 48–34 home loss to William and Mary on Saturday in which the Eagles recorded a season-low in points.

They will also attempt to capitalize on their home-court advantage: Although the Colonials lead the all-time series 13-12, American has won 8 of 12 games against GW at home.

American is led by Emily Kinneston and Lauren Crisler, who are averaging 12.3 and 10.1 points per game, respectively. Kinneston, like Hannah Schaible for the Colonials, is a talented guard who can stuff the stat-sheet: she has tallied double-figures in all but one game this season. She also leads the team in assists (4.1 per game) and is second in rebounds (4.7 rpg).

Crisler, the team’s leading rebounder at 6.3 boards per game, will battle with Caira Washington inside. The Eagles best shot at winning the battle in the paint will be to get Washington in foul trouble and force the Colonials into tough shots while utilizing Crisler in the middle of the floor.

Despite their poor record, American leads the Patriot League with a .405 field-goal percentage and is limiting opponents to .357 shooting from the floor. 

The bottom line:

The Colonials have found their groove down the stretch of their non-conference schedule, and their surging offense, led by their strong post-play should overwhelm an AU team that has struggled mightily to stop teams in the paint so far this season.

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Graduate student Lexi Martins goes up for a shot in GW's win over Illinois. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer

Graduate student Lexi Martins goes up for a shot in GW’s win over Illinois. Jack Borowiak | Hatchet Photographer

Updated: Dec. 4, 2016 at 4:21 p.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Barbara Alberts.

Women’s basketball (7-2, 1-0 A10) marched to another solid victory over the Fighting Illini (3-5) at the Smith Center Sunday, picking up its fourth win in a row.

GW stormed past Illinois 72-56 in a game where every Colonial saw minutes on the court and the team went 16-for-16 from the stripe – a place where they’ve previously had trouble picking up points.    

“We have been playing pretty well and defending our home court,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “Getting a good win over a Big 10 opponent doesn’t hurt.”

The Colonials opened the game by continuing the offensive push from their game against VCU, on Friday

Sophomore combo-guard Mei-Lyn Bautista struck first for the Colonials with a beautiful three-point shot, the beginning of a strong showing by GW.

Senior guard Hannah Schaible and graduate transfer Lexi Martins also both picked up where they left off in the win over the Rams.

Schaible was fast out of the gate, dropping six points and grabbing two steals, while Martins came off the bench with confidence, snatching four rebounds and dropping nine points in the first quarter, including a beautiful three-point shot.

Schaible’s scrappy play resulted in a team-best 14 points, three rebounds and two steals in the game.

“I want the ball, I wear my kneepads, that’s how I bring the energy,” Schaible said.

GW’s defense was airtight.  The Illini were 0-for-4 from beyond the arc before Illinois’ freshman guard Brandi Beasly dropped the first three of the day for the visitors roughly seven minutes into the second quarter.  The Colonials held Illinois’ standout sophomore forward Alex Wittinger to just four points in the half.

Illinois scored in spurts but could not keep up a consistent offense.  The Colonials’ sizeable height difference under the hoop in senior forward Caira Washington helped contribute 12 points in the paint for GW in the half.  Sharpshooting from GW saw the team hit 5-for-10 from beyond the arc and 44.8 percent from the field overall in the half.    

The Illini picked up only six points in the paint heading into the break, and shot 31 percent from the field. 

Junior forward Kelli Prange hit a buzzer-beating three from nearly half-court to close out the frame, with GW leading 41-25. The 6-foot-5-inch forward contributed eight points and five boards on the day, including 2-for-4 from long.

“I definitely take advantage of the versatility that I bring to the game of basketball,” Prange said.

Washington opened the third quarter crashing the boards in her usual aggressive fashion, picking up six points out of the gate and one block.  A Washington-Prange combo under the hoop stifled any chances the Illini had in the paint, and a swarming Colonial defense forced two shot clock violations and held the visitors to just seven points.

Washington totaled a near double-double with 10 points and a team-high 9 rebounds against the Orange and Blue.

After heading into the fourth quarter with a comfortable 60-32 lead, Rizzotti rested her starters and emptied her bench.

Freshman guards Kendall Bresee and Harper Birdsong, along with sophomore forward Kelsie Mahoney, all helped close out the game, contributing seven of the 22 bench points in the game.

Despite the Illini picking up 24 points in the final quarter, the Colonials were still able to handily put the game away.

Three Colonials scored in double digits, including junior guard Brianna Cummings, who recorded 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.

The team ended the day shooting 40 percent from the field and scoring 19 second-chance points to the Illini’s three.

“We’re working really hard to make our offense all-inclusive and tough to guard with a bunch of different options,” Rizzotti said.   

The Colonials hit the road this week, visiting American University Wednesday night with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.  

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Marty Fenn.

What: GW Women’s Basketball (6-2) vs. Illinois (3-4)

Where: The Smith Center, Washington, D.C.

When: Sunday, Dec. 4 at noon

The Colonials will host the Fighting Illini as they look to extend their winning streak to four games.

The Case for the Colonials

The Colonials stand at 6-2 after defeating VCU on Wednesday evening (also giving them their first conference victory in an unusually early A-10 matchup), and nearly overcame a double-digit deficit to defeat #20/21 Syracuse at the Gulf Coast Showcase.

What has been particularly notable for GW as of late is the offensive production across the board. Four players finished in double figures during the win against VCU, and 25 of the 32 made field goals came by way of an assist, a season-high for the Colonials.

Seniors Caira Washington and Hannah Schaible are the only players averaging double figures for the season (Washington at 13.0 ppg and Schaible at 10.8 ppg), but three members of the team have put up at least 8.0 points per game (Brianna Cummings, Lexi Martins and Kelli Prange).

The Colonials are shooting 43.3 percent from the field as a team, an immensely positive sign for a team that struggled with offensive efficiency last year.

The Colonials could use a fast start to set the tempo. The pace has been slow at times in the first half for GW, who usually find their energy in the third quarter, outscoring opponents 173-110 in that period.

The Case for the Illini

Illinois has struggled out of the gates, stumbling to a 3-4 record while averaging just 59.0 points per game on 35.7 percent shooting as a team. Opponents, however, haven’t fared much better trying to score against the Illini.

Head coach Matt Bollant’s team likes to slow the ball down and work the post, particularly finding sophomore forward Alex Wittinger the ball. In last season’s matchup against the Colonials, Wittinger went for 14 points and added seven boards.

If Wittinger can control the glass against Caira Washington and Lexi Martins and help slow the game down, the Illini may have a good chance.

Illinois will also have to force turnovers. For a team that doesn’t hold on to the ball well, they will need to create opportunities in transition and try to catch the Colonials off-guard. They cannot afford to let GW get into their motion offense and create chances around the perimeter

The Bottom Line

Illinois has not been playing good basketball, while the Colonials are finding their groove. If GW controls the ball and continue to get offensive contributions from guards and forwards, it’s going to be a long afternoon for the Illini.

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Senior guard Hannah Schaible led a second-half comeback against VCU Friday with a team-best 18 points. Hatchet Photographer | Jack Borowiak

Senior guard Hannah Schaible led a second-half comeback against VCU Friday with a team-best 18 points. Hatchet Photographer | Jack Borowiak

This post was written Hatchet reporter Barbara Alberts. 

Updated: Dec. 3, 2016 at 11:26 a.m.

After shooting only 23.5 percent from the field going into halftime, women’s basketball (6-2, 1-0 A-10) roared back against the VCU Rams (4-4, 0-1 A-10) to capture its first Atlantic 10 conference win of the season.

A 32-point third quarter helped GW overcome a nine-point halftime deficit, and secure the 81-67 victory at home Friday night.

“I’m excited to get our first Atlantic 10 win,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said.  “[The game] was an excellent display of team basketball. I couldn’t be more proud…it says a lot about who we are this year, what this team really cares about.”

The Colonials ended the night with a season-high 32 made field goals and 25 assists in the contest, with multiple players bringing energy to the court in the second half.

Senior guard Hannah Schaible had a stand-out game, leading the team with 18 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds, and graduate transfer Lexi Martins posted her first career double-double for the Colonials off the bench with 11 points and 11 boards.

However, it was an uphill battle for the Colonials in the first half.  

The Rams were red-hot in the opening quarter, shooting 61 percent from the field and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc to capture a 25-19 lead.

VCU senior guard Keira Robinson drove the Rams’ offense in the first frame, picking up seven points and along with redshirt senior guard Galaisha Goodhope’s five points and two assists.

The Colonials’ offense found a few points in the first quarter from fast breaks, but for the most part looked flat.

“I thought VCU came out tough and made things really hard for us in the beginning of the game,” Rizzotti said. ““I felt like we were just very stagnant on offense so we were doing quick-hit plays, trying to get certain guys shots.” 

GW went just 23.5 percent from field in the second quarter and a disappointing 1-for-8 from deep across the first half. 

Schaible picked up six points in the second quarter to keep the Colonials within reach, but VCU outscored GW 11-8 in the period to pull ahead 36-37 heading into halftime. The Rams were also able to outrebound GW 26-15 in the first half. 

“We talked a lot at halftime about how we had to be more determined on the boards and making sure that things go our way,” Rizzotti said.

The second half was a whole new game for the Colonials.  The home team came out with forceful a 15-8 offensive run to gain some momentum. 

An aggressive drive to the basket in by Cummings early in the third quarter resulted in two points to make it a one possession game with the Rams leading 40-37.

After scoring only six points in the first half, Schaible put up eight more points, five assists and six rebounds in the third quarter alone.

“I think Hannah Schaible might be the most competitive player I’ve ever coached,” Rizzotti said. “The kid literally refuses to lose.”

Schaible continued to drive the offense, with three steals helping the Colonials pick up 10 second chance points in the quarter.

Graduate transfer Lexi Martins stepped up big for the Colonials as well, when foul trouble forced senior forward Caira Washington to the bench in the middle of the third period.

Martins picked up 10 points and 5 rebounds for GW, crashing the glass with confidence on the backcourt after grabbing zero defensive rebounds in the first half.

“I went out there trying to play with short-term memory of the first half where I struggled a little bit,” Martins said.  “I tried to be aggressive and get on the boards.”

In the third quarter alone, the Colonials dropped 32 points and shot an impressive 60 percent from the field.

“In the third quarter we opened the floor up and reversed the ball multiple times,” Rizzotti said. “We got VCU’s defense to move, so it was a lot harder for them to double on the post.”

After a struggling from the field in the first half, sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista hit a buzzer-beating three to close the quarter with a 59-49 Colonials’ lead.

The fourth quarter was merely a continuation of the Colonials’ determined comeback.

Junior forward Kelli Prange opened the final quarter by dropping eight points to help extend the Colonials’ lead to 20, while the visitors were held to just 26.7 percent shooting from the field. 

The Colonials ended the night with 40 points in the paint, 20 points from the bench and a double-digit league victory.

“What I love about this group is they never seem to get rattled,” Rizzotti said. 

The Colonials continue their homestand Sunday when they face Illinois at noon.

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Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 8:30 p.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball vs. VCU

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Barbara Alberts.

What: Women’s basketball (5-2) vs. VCU (4-3)

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

When: Friday, Dec. 2 at 7.p.m.

After a strong showing at the Gulf Coast Showcase last week, the Colonials return to the Smith Center for their first Atlantic 10 Conference game of the season.  

GW, the best defensive rebounding team in the A-10, goes head-to-head with the Rams, which boasts the second-most offensive rebounds in the league. The Colonials went 1-1 in their two games against VCU last season, including a 72-58 victory that saw them advance to the 2016 A-10 Championship game. 

With the Colonials picked to finish fourth in the A-10 Preseason Poll and the Rams picked fifth, Friday night’s game should be tightly-contested.

The Case for the Colonials:

The Colonials went 2-1 last week in Estero Fla., falling only to then-No.11/18 Syracuse 71-74 despite overcoming a 20-point deficit in a second-half comeback.  

In the tournament, the Colonials’ offense showed improvement with an average of three players per game scoring in the double-figures. So far this season, only one Ram is averaging double-digit scoring numbers per game.

GW enters the contest with the best scoring offense in the A-10 and second-best field goal percentage. Senior forward Caira Washington currently sits atop the conference with the best field goal percentage, while GW is shooting 42.6 percent from the field overall. The team, averaging 37 points in the paint per game in their last three games, will be a well-rounded force to be reckoned with for the Rams on Friday.

The Colonials should look to force the Rams to shoot threes and use their height advantage under the glass to help maximize their time of possession.  VCU ranks last in the league in made-threes this season in, averaging only 2.3 per game.  With the Colonials grabbing an average of 32.1 defensive rebounds per game, missed threes by the Rams should turn into more scoring opportunities for GW.

Case for the Rams:

The Rams are coming off a tough loss Wednesday, barely falling to Iona 57-59.  VCU went 2-0 at the San Juan Shootout last Thursday and Friday, however, where they bested Villanova 68-66.

Steals and a good turnover margin are some of the Rams’ greatest strengths.  VCU averages 7.6 takeaways per game and leads the A-10 in turnover margin.  Senior guard Keira Robinson leads the league with 18 steals this season. With GW averaging 17.4 turnovers a game, expect the Rams to capitalize on any mishandling of the ball. 

The Rams have a few sharpshooters in their arsenal the Colonials will need to keep an eye on. Robinson is the Rams’ leading scorer, averaging of 13.0 points per game. Sophomore guard Bria Gibson has the second best field goal percentage in the A-10 behind Washington.

If there’s one thing the Rams can exploit in GW’s offense it’s free throws. Look for VCU to be strategic with the shooting fouls they commit and take advantage of missed opportunities from the stripe by a Colonials’ team that ranks 12th in the A-10 in free-throw percentage.

VCU is also the second-best offensive rebounding team in the conference, averaging 16.1 offensive boards a game.  Offensive rebounding has helped the Rams score second-chance points this season and, with weak field-goal shooting, they will have to fight it out under the glass  if they want to keep the game competitive.

Bottom Line:

Friday’s contest will be a battle, especially on the glass, but GW will likely come away with its first league win if its surging offense can show up for a third straight game. 

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal. 

Playing in its third game in three days, women’s basketball (5-2) received a huge lift from its bench to defeat Western Kentucky (3-3), 68–49, in the fifth-place game of the Gulf Coast Showcase Sunday.

“I feel good about our performance this weekend. Obviously there’s always going to be that thought in the back of our minds that we’d rather be playing for a championship or third place,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “But at least in the aftermath of losing a tough game, our mindset was right about coming back and finishing the best that we can.”

After handling Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday, the Colonials faced a tougher test in a Western Kentucky team that earned three votes in the AP Top 25 Poll and defeated then-No. 23 Indiana earlier this season.

However, behind 29 bench points and scoring from 10 different Colonials, GW led wire-to-wire against the Lady Toppers – whose starters played heavy minutes in overtime in their previous game.

“Being deep is always helpful – whether it’s guys being tired or not playing well, you always want to have confident players coming into the game off the bench,” Rizzotti said. “The bench’s performance is going to be really important for the success of GW women’s basketball.  Some of these young guys are our future – so it’s nice to see them hit their stride.”

Like they did on Saturday, the Colonials got off to a fast start. Their defense limited the Lady Toppers to 23 percent shooting from the field in the first quarter, while forcing three turnovers. GW led by as many as 12 in the period and held a 16–10 advantage heading into the second quarter.  

Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista, who started for the second consecutive game, ran the offense smoothly and effectively, playing with pace and finding open looks for her teammates. After dishing out four assists on Saturday, Bautista, a 2015-2016 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie selection, had five dimes on Sunday afternoon.  

“Starting or not, my role when I come in is to bring some energy, be a leader, make sure all my guys are in the right spot, and make my teammates better by feeding them the ball,” Bautista said. “The last two games, I stepped up when Coach Rizzotti told me I’d be in the lineup, and I did the exact same that I’d do if I wasn’t starting.”

Junior guard Camila Tapias hit two threes in the second quarter to spur GW to an early 12–0 run before the media timeout. The Colonials held WKU scoreless through the first 3:34 of the second quarter to extend the lead to 28–10, and did not allow a field goal until the final three minutes of the half.

GW held a 32–18 lead at halftime behind a balanced offense led by eight points and four rebounds from senior center Caira Washington. Junior guard Brianna Cummings, coming off of a 16-point performance against FGCU, continued her aggressive play, grabbing four offensive rebounds in the first half and reaching the line twice.

The Colonials bench was key in extending the lead in a back-and-forth third quarter, during which GW shot 52.9 percent. Junior guard Mia Farmer, who had not scored yet this season, provided a spark off the bench, collecting seven points in only six minutes, including a pretty reverse layup and a three-pointer to beat the third quarter buzzer to give the Colonials a 20-point lead.

“Mia always comes in and plays her hardest – she always brings energy and toughness, she’s very strong, and she plays great defense,” Bautista said. “She knocked down big shots, and had a nice reverse layup.  A lot of guys on our team know that no matter how many minutes they get, it’s always a good opportunity to just play their game and not think about it.”

GW kept their foot on the pedal entering the final period. After extending the lead to 25 with 5:28 to go, Rizzotti emptied her bench to give her starters a much-needed breather.

Washington, who had a near double-double with 13 points and 9 rebounds, said she was pleased with her team’s performance after two consecutive wins.

“Overall we’ve performed very well for a three game stretch, we did well and we fought hard, and we played high-intensity basketball, so I’m proud of us,” Washington said. “We are really looking to get better, and being a better team than we are now at the end of the season.”

Up next, the Colonials will face A-10 rival VCU on Friday at the Smith Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal. 

On her 22nd birthday, senior guard Hannah Schaible scored a career-high 20 points to lead women’s basketball to a 76-47 rout of Florida Gulf Coast in the consolation semifinal game of the Gulf Coast Showcase.

Schaible also added seven rebounds and shot an efficient 8-for-12 from the field, converting a number of tough finishes while drawing contact. Junior guard Brianna Cummings put up    a season-high 16 points and five rebounds, while senior center Caira Washington pitched in 14 points and five rebounds in only 15 minutes of action.

“I was really happy with the game today –  it was not easy to have to turnaround after finishing at almost 10 p.m. to play at 1:30, but our guys were focused and really hungry,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “They wanted to redeem themselves after losing yesterday so it was great to see how they bounced back and  played together and got the win today.”

Rizzotti made an adjustment in the starting lineup for the first time this season, replacing point guard Camila Tapias with sophomore combo guard Mei-Lyn Bautista. Although Bautista was held scoreless on only two shot attempts, she led the team in assists with four dimes.

After the game, Rizzotti acknowledged Bautista’s high intensity on the court, noting her skills as a vocal leader on the court.

“I really like her energy, she’s one of those guys that actually wants to be vocal and lead, and I think that’s what some of our older guys need,” Rizzotti said. “I think she’s improved over the last month and a half and she’s ready for that jump to the starting lineup. She came out and played great defense today on FGCU’s best shooter and she really got the offense flowing.”

The Colonials started strong, forcing five FGCU turnovers in the first quarter and holding the Eagles to 4-for-14 shooting from the field. Cummings was aggressive from the start, looking for her shot and scoring eight early points to give the Colonials a 24-10 lead after the first quarter.

Cummings stayed hot in the second period, adding another six points, including four from the free throw line. GW was sharp from the charity stripe in the first half, hitting 9-of-11 free throws.

“Coming off a loss to Syracuse, I felt that I wasn’t really that aggressive in the game, and I wasn’t playing to my strengths,” Cummings said. “Today I focused on being aggressive, getting to the rim, and drawing some fouls to help the team.”

Graduate student forward Lexi Martins also provided quality minutes off the bench, chipping in with five points, five rebounds, and two steals in the first half, allowing Washington to take a breather and play limited minutes in the first half. GW held a 17 point advantage going into the locker room, leading 46-29.

Schaible carried the Colonials with six early points in the third quarter to help GW open the half on a 10-1 run. After a brief two-minute GW scoring drought that included three turnovers and a 6-0 FGCU run, Bautista sparked the offense once again as the Colonials closed the quarter with a 28 point advantage, 65-37. They allowed the Eagles to score only one basket in the period.

“I’m happy that we played so well as a team and that I was able to get some buckets today,” Schaible said. “We had to focus on working on our defense, because Coach [Rizzotti] wants us to be a great defensive team all season long, so that’s something we want to constantly get better at, limiting the other team as much as possible.”

Nursing a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter, Rizzotti was able to give valuable minutes to her backups, with freshmen Harper Birdsong and Kendall Bresee, and junior Mia Farmer all getting playing time.

“It’s very important to get our backups minutes, because down the line you never know what’s going to happen,” Cummings said. “We need our backups to come in and keep pushing and let the tempo not drop, and they did an amazing job at scoring, rebounding, and just helping us out really and giving us a rest.”

The Colonials will face Western Kentucky tomorrow in the fifth-place game. They will tip off at 1:30 p.m. at Germain Arena.

“Tomorrow we face a really tough Western Kentucky squad that already has beaten Indiana this year and played DePaul tough on Friday, so it doesn’t get any easier for us,” Rizzotti said. “But it’s another great opportunity for us to get better and play against another really high level mid-major program and see where we are at this point in the season, and I think our girls will definitely be ready.”

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal.

In its first game against a nationally ranked opponent this season, women’s basketball (3-2) was unable to complete a furious comeback against No. 11/18 Syracuse (4-1), losing 74-71 on the opening night of the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fl.

The Colonials nearly overcame a 20-point first-half deficit, battling back to cut the lead to two in the fourth quarter.

However, Syracuse, the 2016 NCAA National Championship runner-up, held its own on the defensive end, drawing an offensive foul call on senior guard Hannah Schaible and forcing a missed three-pointer at the final buzzer by junior forward Kelli Prange.

“I was very proud of their effort and their focus in the second half,” first-year head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “It would’ve been easy to just kind of give up and think about what’s next, but they showed toughness and perseverance. That’s a really good sign early in the season, that they have that in them.”

The Colonials held their own in the first quarter, holding the Orange to 4-for-18 shooting from the field. GW raced out to a 19-17 lead behind 7-0 and 8-0 runs, despite turning the ball over seven times against Syracuse’s 2-3 trap defense and stingy full-court press.

After an efficient first quarter, GW struggled to find their rhythm in the second quarter, shooting only 3-for-17 from the field and committing six more turnovers. Meanwhile, the Orange got several fast-break opportunities off of four second-quarter steals. Defensively, the Colonials struggled to defend Syracuse’s star guard duo of Alexis Peterson and Brittney Sykes.

Despite her struggles from the field, Peterson dished out five first-half assists, running the offense smoothly and finding open looks for redshirt senior guard Brittney Sykes. Sykes, coming off a 21-point game, scored 15 first-half points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field. The senior duo dominated throughout the game; their combined 29 first-half points were more than the Colonials scored in the first half.

Senior center Caira Washington was one of the lone bright spots for the Colonials in the half, with seven points and eight rebounds. 13 first-half turnovers led to 16 points off turnovers for the Orange.

Coming out of the locker room trailing 43-26, the Colonials played with better defensive intensity in the third quarter. Although they shot 67 percent from the field in the third quarter, Syracuse’s full-court press continued to bother them, as GW turned the ball over three more times in the period.

“At halftime, we talked about taking better care of the ball,” Washington said. “We just needed to calm down, stay composed, and take care of the ball. I’m proud, we played well and we played hard to the very end.”

The Colonials were unable to overcome 23 total turnovers, an area which has been an issue for GW through the first five games of the season.

“We talked a lot about turnovers heading in, and that we would have to be a disciplined and tough about how we handle pressure,” Rizzotti said. “It’s one of those scenarios where hopefully an early season game against Syracuse helps us against a team later in the season that is similar in trying to turn us over.”

Heading into the fourth quarter down by 11, GW staged a furious comeback thanks to a dominant performance on the glass. Offensive rebounding allowed the Colonials to gain a 21-11 advantage in second chance points, and the Colonials clawed back behind scrappy, balanced play.

Senior center Caira Washington was a force in the paint, posting her second consecutive double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds to go along with 3 assists and 2 blocks.

“I thought we did okay – I thought we got in our position, and played our roles,” Washington said.  We could’ve played a little better defensively, in terms of knowing our personnel and stopping post players, but overall we played well and we played hard to the very end.”

Averaging only 3.0 points per game, senior guard Shannon Cranshaw provided a huge lift off the bench, scoring all 11 of her points in the second half. She sunk three three-pointers and netted a clutch fast-break layup with 29 seconds left to make it a three point game, 71-68.

After an offensive foul call on Schaible with ten seconds remaining gave the ball back to the Orange, Peterson hit one of two shots from the free throw line, leaving the door open for the Colonials. Coming out of a timeout down 74-71, junior forward Kelli Prange got a good look at the basket for a potential game-tying three-pointer but missed wide right, leaving the GW comeback short.

“We knew that they were coming off a loss at Drexel, so we knew they were going to give it their all today,” Prange said. “We’re excited to learn from this, and it was great to play against one of the bigger opponents that we potentially might see down in the long run, in March.”

GW will face Florida Gulf Coast tomorrow in their second game of the three game tournament at 1:30 p.m. at Germain Arena.

“It’s definitely hard to come back with only a couple hours of prep for it, but our coaching staff is very good about that, our scouts are working hard,” Prange said. “We’ll get back to it tomorrow, learn what [FGCU] does, what their tendencies are, to come out and hopefully get the win tomorrow.”

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Junior guard Camila Tapias battles a Coppin State defender during GW's win over the Eagles last Wednesday. Tapias matched a career-high 10 points at Villanova on Sunday.

Junior guard Camila Tapias battles a Coppin State defender during GW’s win over the Eagles last Wednesday. Tapias matched a career-high 10 points at Villanova on Sunday. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Barbara Alberts.

The Colonials traveled to Villanova Sunday afternoon where they went head-to-head with the Wildcats in a game that saw four Colonials score in double-figures.

Despite weak free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter, the Colonials (3-1) eked out a three-point victory over the Wildcats (1-2), 72-69. The decision marks the Colonials’ third win in a row and first on the road.

Senior forward Caira Washington led the way her 30th career double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

“We went in with a plan and we all executed,” Washington said. “Not just myself, even those rotating off the bench, so we all played our part…I’m beyond excited to get the win.”

Washington and senior guard Hannah Schaible scored 15 points each, with junior guard Brianna Cummings scoring 11 and junior guard Camila Tapias matching a career-high 10 points.   

“I was happy to see us really share the ball today, with 17 assists and 4 players in double figures, and also dominate the boards at the same time,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said.

The Colonials came out hot in the first quarter, with the defense holding the Wildcats to only 11 percent shooting from the field and 0-5 from behind the arc.  The visitors clogged the key and forced the Wildcats to shoot outside, where they were extremely cold, going 27 percent percent from the field and 2-for-9 from beyond the arc in the first quarter.

Foul trouble and a GW shooting drought, however, opened up the court for the Wildcats, who closed in rapidly on the early Colonial lead.

With 30 seconds left in the first quarter, a double-bonus floor foul on a made three-point shot for the Wildcats sent sophomore guard Adrianna Hahn to the line and gave the Wildcats and easy five points and put the Wildcats within one point of the lead, with the Colonials heading into the second quarter leading 15-14.

Quick offensive play by the Wildcats at the beginning of the second quarter allowed Villanova capture the lead from the Colonials after a quick shot by Villanova’s Jannah Tucker put the Wildcats up by 1.

Cummings – who added eight rebounds and two assists – responded quickly with a made field goal to regain GW’s edge.

“I just came in and I really wanted to be aggressive offensively, attacking the rim,” Cummings said. “I wanted to get some rebounds and help out my team as well.”

Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista entered the second quarter and quickly put up a deep triple to help maintain the offensive momentum of the Colonials, who were shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc at the time.

The Wildcats, however, clawed their way back into it, capitalizing on another Colonials’ offensive drought.  GW, unwilling to give up, remained tenacious under the hoop. Washington came up clutch in the paint, scoring 11 points on the offensive end of the court and stifling the Wildcats with 5 rebounds under the hoop in the first half.

Washington grabbed an offensive rebound and put up an impressive buzzer-beating layup after Cummings’ drive to the hoop rimmed out to tie the game at 32 heading into halftime.

Schaible entered the third quarter with her usual hustle, forcing a turnover that led to a two-point bucket right out of the gate.

The Wildcats responded and eventually pulled ahead 39-36 on a flashy reverse-layup by the Wildcats’ Megan Quinn.

The tides turned for the Colonials, however, when Tapias started dropping her three-point shots.

A deep three by Tapias – who went 3-for-4 from distance on the day – tied the game 39-39 and sparked a big offensive run that pushed GW’s edge to 49-41. 

The Wildcats came out blazing in the fourth quarter after two quick points and two made free-throws put them within three points of the Colonials once more.

Weak free-throw shooting by the Colonials resulted in missed scoring opportunities and kept the Wildcats in the game.  Despite scoring 15 points in the game, Washington only went just 1-for-6 from the charity stripe.

A 6-0 run in the middle of the fourth quarter by Wildcats saw them finally heat up from the outside, dropping two quick three-pointers and narrowing GW’s lead to two points. 

The Colonial defense then picked up the slack, with players like graduate transfer forward Lexi Martins playing big in the middle, contributing nine rebounds on the day and preventing the Wildcats from making easy shots.

Clutch free-throws from Schaible in the game’s final seconds solidified the 72-69 victory.

“We played well even when they started to come back,” Washington said.  “We stayed calm and composed and we executed the offense and the defense and that’s what helped us win this game.”    

GW now heads to Estero, Fl. to take part in the 2016 Gulf Coast Showcase. They will battle 2016 NCAA Tournament runner-up Syracuse in game one on Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m.

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