This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Alex Kist.
Despite shooting just 27.5 percent from the field, the Colonials’ defense was able to create turnovers and dominate the glass to help earn GW a 67-48 victory at La Salle on Saturday afternoon.
Junior forward Jonquel Jones notched her seventh double-double of the season with a team-high 12 points and 16 rebounds, followed closely by freshman Kelli Prange, who added 11 points and eight rebounds.
Although La Salle was physical down low early in the first half, GW was patient and regained its footing in the paint to lead by as much as 20 points in the second. After a three from freshman Mia Farmer closed out the game, the Colonials had secured their 16th consecutive win.
“[La Salle] wasn’t really doing anything special. I just felt like our shots weren’t dropping,” Jones said. “The shots that we took in the first half were the same shots that we always take, so we needed to rely on our defense.”
To open the first frame, GW ran a man defense to test La Salle’s speed. The Explorers started with a strong tempo and were within a possession six minutes into the game, but were not able to compete against the Colonials’ pressure on defense. GW finished with 14 steals and an obscene 63 rebounds, the most in a game since 2008, with the frontcourt of Jones, sophomore Caira Washington and Prange leading the pack with a combined 32 boards.
Even when shots were not falling in the their favor, the Colonials made sure they got extra chances. The Explorers struggled to get set in the half court without coughing up the ball, which helped GW accumulate 18 points off turnovers.
“I think we had a really good awareness in the press and in the half-court defense, [we knew] where our help had to come from,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “People really understood their assignments.”
Eventually the ball did start to roll for the Colonials. As La Salle’s posts failed to be alert and ready to receive the ball, the Colonials were able to capitalize on the Explorers’ turnovers and close out the half up 35-20. The Explorers finished the game with 24 giveaways after averaging only 15 per game on the season. They had 17 at halftime.
During the break, Tsipis told his team to concentrate on getting more offensive rebounds to attain second-chance points, as his team did not execute in transition the way that he wanted them to in the first.
The Colonials listened, coming out of the break with a full-court press. Riding the momentum, back-to-back makes by Jones and sophomore guard Shannon Cranshaw forced La Salle to call a timeout with GW up by 19.
Despite being 2-8 on the season when they are trailing at the half, the Explorers began gaining momentum with three-point shooting in the second and were able close the gap to 41-31. But La Salle’s drive was short lived as players began rushing their opportunities to ultimately shoot just 25.8 percent after halftime.
A few plays later, GW’s posts spread the floor, allowing freshman guard Brianna Cummings to drive the lane. She was fouled on the way in, knocked down two shots from the line and propelled GW back to a strong, 47-31 advantage that kept growing.
With a week of practice before GW’s next contest, Tsipis said his team will work on meshing offensive execution with perimeter defense and rebounding to prepare for the upcoming schedule.
“You only get one bye during the A-10 season, and I think we spend time during the first part of the week on conditioning and getting lifts in, but its just as important that we get a mental break,” Tsipis said.
The Colonials will return to action Saturday to take on George Mason in Fairfax, Va. at 2 p.m.