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GW women’s basketball

The defense of a championship starts (unofficially) on Nov. 8.

That’s when the women’s basketball team returns to the Smith Center for an exhibition game against Christopher Newport, the team announced Wednesday after the Atlantic 10 conference revealed its 2015-16 women’s basketball schedules.

GW will play 13 teams coming off postseason appearances last season including Sweet Sixteen teams Iowa (Nov. 27) and Stanford (Nov. 21) and league foe Dayton (Jan. 10, Feb. 14), which reached the Elite Eight last year. They will play 12 teams who made the RPI Top 100 last season.

“Once again we have a very demanding schedule with so many teams with postseason experience,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said in a release.

The Colonials play a total of 28 games, plus the exhibition contest, between Nov. 8 and Feb. 27. The A-10 championship will be played from March 2-6. The season officially begins on Nov. 14 at home against Grambling State.

At minimum, five of those games will be on national television. CBSSN will televise the team’s A-10 opener at Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 3 as well as the Jan. 10 game at Dayton, ESPNU will broadcast games at Duquesne (Jan. 17) and against Dayton at home (Feb. 14), and NBCSN will take the conference home-opener against Rhode Island (Jan. 6).

“I think it speaks volumes about GW women’s basketball and the level of play in the Atlantic 10 that five of our conference games will be nationally televised this season,” Tsipis said in a release. “It’s a tribute to how hard our players work to get to where we are as a program.”

Over Thanksgiving break, the Colonials will travel to Cedar Park, Texas to take part in the inaugural Lone Star Showcase, a three-day tournament from Nov. 26-28 where they will play Houston, Iowa and Wright State. It will be part of the most difficult stretch of the schedule, where the team plays six postseason opponents in seven games from Nov. 17-Dec. 3.

The Colonials set a record in wins with a 29-4 overall mark last season and won both the A-10 regular season and tournament championships. The team was ranked in the top 25 for most of the year and made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008.

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The Atlantic 10 announced its women’s basketball league pairings for the upcoming 2015-15 season on Thursday.

A 16-game conference schedule for each of the A-10’s 14 members will allow every team to play each other at least once and three teams twice.

Reigning A-10 champion GW will take on Dayton, George Mason and Richmond both home and away next season. The Colonials played the same three teams twice in 2014-15, going 6-0 en route to a final regular season A-10 record of 15-1.

GW will also host La Salle, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Louis and VCU at the Smith Center, and pay visits to Davidson, Duquesne, Fordham, St. Bonaventure and Saint Joseph’s next season.

The Colonials are coming off one of their best seasons in program history. After defeating Dayton in the A-10 championship final, the historic, 29-win campaign was cut short by a first round loss to No. 11 Gonzaga in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

The league as a whole also sent five teams to the postseason in 2015, while three A-10 players were selected in the 2015 WNBA draft.

The 2016 A-10 women’s basketball championship will be played March 2-6, 2016 at the Richmond Coliseum.

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Freshman Yuta Watanabe and junior Kevin Larsen on a visit to the White House to watch the arrival ceremony for Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan. Watanabe was invited as a sports ambassador between the U.S. and Japan. Hatchet File Photo

Freshman Yuta Watanabe and junior Kevin Larsen on a visit to the White House to watch the arrival ceremony for Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan. Watanabe was invited as a sports ambassador between the U.S. and Japan. Hatchet File Photo

The men’s basketball team is planning a trip to Japan sometime during the 2016 summer, athletic director Patrick Nero told The Japan Times on Monday.

Nero is currently in Japan with men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan to explore potential exhibition game opponents for the squad, which last toured internationally in 2012 when the team went to Italy.

The Colonials are allowed one foreign trip every four years according to NCAA regulations. The trip would give Japanese star Yuta Watanabe, who will finish his sophomore year before next summer, a chance to play with GW in front of fans at home. Watanabe is from Kagawa, Japan.

Nero told The Japan Times that sports business students could also join the team on the trip and would use it as an educational opportunity to study sports administration and get a taste of Japanese culture.

The details of the tour have yet to be ironed out, but Nero said it would likely take place in August but could also happen in June. The destinations would likely be Tokyo and Okinawa, with stops for games, cultural sites and volunteer work. The men’s team held a basketball clinic for children when it toured Italy, and the women’s basketball team did the same on a tour of England and France last summer.

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Junior Jonquel Jones was selected as one of 52 All-Region nominees for the 2015 WBCA Division I Coaches' All-America Team after posting 20 double-doubles, the most in the A-10 and 10th-most in the NCAA, over the course of the season. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor.

Junior Jonquel Jones was selected as one of 52 All-Region nominees for the 2015 WBCA Division I Coaches’ All-America Team after posting 20 double-doubles, the most in the A-10 and 10th-most in the NCAA, over the course of the season. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rob Bartnichak.

Women’s basketball junior Jonquel Jones was nominated for the 2015 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division I All-America Team, the WBCA announced Wednesday.

Jones is GW’s first All-America regional finalist since Kimberly Beck in 2008. She is one of 12 nominees from Region I, and one of 52 candidates overall.

Jones was the only player in the Atlantic 10 conference to average a double-double. She was sixth in the nation with 12.5 rebounds per game and sixth in the conference with 15.3 rebounds per game. She also ranked fourth in the league with 1.9 blocks per game and tenth with a 47.8 percent shooting percentage.

This would not be Jones’s first recognition of the season. She was a one of 30 midseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy, won both A-10 Player and Defensive Player of the Year and won seven A-10 Player of the Week awards during the season. She was also named Most Outstanding Player of the A-10 Championship.

The 2015 WBCA Division I Coaches’ All-America Team will be announced on April 4.

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The Colonials react to the news that they will be a six seed in the NCAA tournament. GW lost its first NCAA Tournament game since 2008 Friday, falling to Gonzaga in Corvallis, Ore. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

The Colonials react to the news that they will be a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. GW lost its first NCAA Tournament game since 2008 on Friday, falling to Gonzaga in Corvallis, Ore. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rob Bartnichak.

After a program-record 29 wins, women’s basketball’s historic season has come to a close.

Sixth-seeded GW dropped its NCAA Tournament first-round game to No. 11 seed Gonzaga 82-69 Friday night in Corvallis, Ore.

“It’s sad that it’s come to an end,” senior Chakecia Miller said. “This group of girls is amazing to play with on the court and knowing that it’s over, it hurt pretty bad.”

Sophomore Hannah Schaible and freshman Kelli Prange tied for the team lead with 13 points and each added seven rebounds. Junior Jonquel Jones recorded her 20th double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Sophomore Shannon Cranshaw scored 11 points and tallied three rebounds.

The Colonials went into the half down 40-25 and were unable to make up the difference in the second despite outscoring Gonzaga 44-42. GW closed the gap to seven points with 39 seconds to play, but Gonzaga hit 6-6 from the free-throw line to secure the victory.

GW shot 29 percent from the field and went 5-19 from three-point range for the game. But Gonzaga shot 42.3 percent from the field and went 9-18 from beyond the arc, sharp shooting its way to victory.

The Colonials dominated on the glass, outrebounding Gonzaga 51-39 and holding a 26-16 scoring advantage in the paint and a 23-9 advantage there in the second half. But the Zags’ perfect record winning the turnover margin wouldn’t go away, and the Colonials’ Achilles’ heel hurt them on the big stage. GW surrendered 27 points on 19 turnovers, though the team scored 17 points on 17 Gonzaga turnovers.

GW also struggled with foul trouble for the majority of the game. Sophomore Caira Washington fouled out with seven minutes left in the game after scoring five points and recording four rebounds. Jones finished with four fouls after tallying three in the first half. Schaible and senior Lauren Chase also finished the game with four fouls.

“I think we allowed our frustrations on offense to take some of our intensity and the ability to anticipate on the defensive end in the first half,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.

In the first half, Schaible led the team with nine points and added four rebounds. Jones and Prange tied for the team lead with five rebounds each.

GW struggled from the field in the opening half, shooting only 23 percent from there and 0-5 from beyond the arc, compared to Gonzaga’s 43.8 percent shooting percentage. Despite holding a 24-20 rebounding advantage, the Colonials were outscored 16-10 in the paint and 9-6 on the second chance. GW also gave up 16 points on 12 first-half turnovers.

“We wanted to go out playing our best basketball,” Tsipis said. “I don’t think we did that in the first half the way we’re capable of.”

Despite the first-round exit, there’s still plenty of optimism going around the locker room. The Zags were the cooler team, accustomed to the NCAA Tournament environment. The Colonials were in the Big Dance for the first time since 2008.

“This season felt great,” Jones said. “This is our first time playing in the NCAA Tournament, so everyone got a taste of it and we need to build on it for next year.”

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Alex Kist.

What: NCAA Tournament first round, No. 6-seed women’s basketball vs. No. 11-seed Gonzaga

When: Friday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, Ore., ESPN2

After receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament as Atlantic 10 conference championships and winning 27 out their last 28 games, the Colonials are back in the Big Dance for the first time since 2008.

The Colonials (29-3, 15-1 A-10) will matchup against veteran team Gonzaga (24-7, 16-2 WCC) in the first round of competition. The Bulldogs received an at-large bid to obtain their seventh straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. Friday’s contest will also mark the first meeting between the two programs.

The Case for Gonzaga:

The Zags can score. Gonzaga boasts the top offense in the West Coast Conference, scoring an average of 71.4 points per game.

Guard Keani Albanez contributes 12.8 of those points per game, and is devastating from the free throw line where she holds a .867 shooting mark for the season. She’s a stat-sheet stuffer, boasting 71 assists and 73 steals on the season to go along with her scoring.
Albanez is the standout, but Gonzaga is fifth in the nation overall from the charity stripe where they make 77 percent of their shots, a program record.

That kind of poise is unlikely to dissipate under the bright lights of March given Gonzaga’s experience, but the Colonials will have to be careful. One of GW’s few problem areas has been turnovers, and the Zags are 13-0 when winning the turnover margin.

Despite the Bulldogs being the lower seed, the crowd could also work in their favor. Though the Colonials were on the top-20 list in February of teams likely to host their first NCAA Tournament games, falling to a six seed meant traveling across the country for GW while Gonzaga will remain in the Pacific Northwest.

The Case for GW:

But even though they are going far away from home, the Colonials are favored to win the game as the higher seed, and many projections had them seeded even higher before selection Monday.

GW’s +13.9 rebound-margin ranks first in the nation and will be tough to match for the Bulldogs, who average a healthy 40.2 mark off the glass but are still dwarfed by the Colonials’ 47.6.

Junior Jonquel Jones, who will be playing in her first NCAA Tournament, has been the key component in GW’s success so far and has 19 double-doubles on the season. Her 12.4 rebounds per game, sixth in the nation, should be a big part of keeping the Colonials out in front.

Gonzaga’s last three opponents shot a season-low in field goal attempts against the Zags, but with Jones’ prowess off the offensive glass, especially, GW shouldn’t have that problem.

Should the Colonials win, they would move on to the second round to play the winner of No. 3-seed Oregon State (26-4, 16-2 Pac-12) and No. 14-seed South Dakota State (24-8, 12-4 Summit) on March 22.

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The No. 19 women’s basketball team will begin NCAA Tournament play Friday at 7:30 against Gonzaga in Corvallis, Oregon, the NCAA Tournament selection committee announced Monday.

The Colonials learned their fate at a selection show watch party in the Colonials Club in the Smith Center Monday evening, as students and fans looked on as the seeds were announced. GW had already secured an automatic bid to the big dance by winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but did not know seed or opponent information prior to the event.

The game will be played at Oregon State’s Gill Coliseum. Oregon State is seeded third in the Spokane region and therefore earned the right to serve as host.

Should GW advance they would face the winner of No. 3 seed Oregon State and No. 14 seed South Dakota State on Sunday, March 22.

It will be the 16th time the Colonials have been to the NCAA Tournament, where they have a 13-2 record in the first round. GW is 18-15 overall in the big dance, where the No. 6 seed matches the 1996 and 2008 teams for the third-best in program history. The program’s best overall seed was No. 4 in 1995.

The Colonials reached the Elite Eight in 1997 and have been to the Sweet 16 four times. They last went to the NCAA Tournament in 2008.

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The Colonials celebrate winning the Atlantic 10 regular season title on March 1. GW defeated Dayton Sunday to win the conference postseason title, the program's first since 2003. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

The Colonials celebrate winning the Atlantic 10 regular season title on March 1. GW defeated Dayton on Sunday to win the conference postseason title, the program’s first since 2003. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rob Bartnichak.

For the first time since 2003, No. 21 women’s basketball is the Atlantic 10 tournament champion.

GW defeated Dayton 75-62 for the third time this season to take the championship in Richmond. The win also gives the Colonials an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and sets the record for the most wins in a season in program history.

“They’re a very resilient bunch,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “When you get them all on the same page, it’s amazing the things you can accomplish.”

Junior forward Jonquel Jones led the game with 21 points and added six rebounds.

Sophomore Hannah Schaible led the game with 11 rebounds and tallied seven points. Sophomore Caira Washington recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Colonials went into the half down 37-29 and on the wrong side of a 17-11 Dayton run over the final 10:34.

GW came out of the locker room to score the first eight of 10 points in the second half and brought the game back even. Senior Chakecia Miller had six of those points.

The Colonials were able to build a double-digit lead after Jones scored seven-straight points with 10:47 left. The game did not get closer than eight points, as GW outscored Dayton 46-25 in the second half.

“The first thing we said after the half was that we didn’t want anything that we didn’t have to work for,” Jones said. “This game definitely made us work for it.”

The Colonials shot 42 percent from the field for the game and held Dayton to 36 percent. GW dominated on the glass, out-rebounding the Flyers 56-43 and holding a 32-22 scoring advantage in the paint. The team also outscored Dayton 23-7 on the second chance.

One of the biggest differences for the Colonials between the first and second halves was turnovers. In the first half, GW turned over the ball 15 times, which led to 17 Dayton points. But then GW gave up zero points on only six turnovers in the second half.

“I felt that it would be a game of runs,” Tsipis said about the first half. “Every game this year against Dayton, we’ve had to battle for runs.”

Despite Jones missing significant time in the first half because of foul trouble, the Colonials still out-rebounded the Flyers 29-17. They also held a 18-14 scoring advantage in the paint and a 9-2 advantage on the second chance.

But Dayton shot 48 percent from the field, including 4-10 from beyond the arc. GW shot only 33 percent in the first half. Miller led GW in the first half with six points. Washington led all players with seven rebounds.

The Colonials now await their NCAA Tournament seed. The first round of the tournament begins March 20.

“Today is a great day to celebrate,” Jones said. “We just want to keep playing at this level going in the NCAA tournament.”

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Junior Jonquel Jones jumps for a layup in the Colonials 70-48 win over St. Bonaventure Sunday. Jones posted her fifteenth double-double of the season with 17 rebounds and 13 points. Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

Junior forward Jonquel Jones jumps for a layup in the Colonials’ 70-48 win over St. Bonaventure earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo by Desiree Halpern | Contributing Photo Editor

RICHMOND – Some teams struggle in the second half after a back-and-forth battle to start off the game.

GW is not one of those teams.

The Colonials sent themselves to the Atlantic 10 finals with a 72-60 victory over Fordham in the Richmond Coliseum on Saturday.

The game was a remarkable parallel to GW’s win over Saint Louis on Friday.

Like Friday’s game, the Colonials had to battle tooth-and-nail with their A-10 foe for the entirety of the first half.

“They’re the defending champions,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “They’re not going to go out without a fight.”

In Saturday’s game, Fordham and GW exchanged the lead throughout the first half, marking the first time the Colonials have trailed in the young postseason.

And like the game against Saint Louis, GW came out of the gate hot in the second half. The Colonials scored 13 points in the first 5:21 of the half, putting the distance they needed between themselves and the Rams.

“We got into halftime and we felt some things had worked well,” Tsipis said. “You saw us when we’re at our best at the start of the second half.”

The Colonials had four players score in double digits. Junior forward Jonquel Jones and sophomore guard Hannah Schaible both had 16 points, and Jones pulled down 15 boards, her 19th double-double of the season.

Jones’ frontcourt mate Caira Washington had 10 points, and fellow starter Chakecia Miller rounded out the high scorers with 11.

A noticeable difference between the two games was the physicality of Saturday’s contest. If at first glance spectators thought it was closer to a football game than a basketball game, they’d be forgiven.

GW and Fordham combined for 47 fouls throughout the game, and players dove for every loose ball on the court.

“Both very physical teams, both with very strong, passionate basketball players,” Schaible said. “You’re playing for a lot, so you’ll do anything to have the outcome in your favor.”

The number of fouls ultimately benefitted GW. Fordham’s big, Samantha Clark, had to return to the bench in the first with three fouls. Before she sat, Clark scored nine in the first half.

Clark and another Fordham starter, Emily Tapio, would then both foul out late in the second half in quick succession, dampening Fordham’s chances of making a late push. Before they both fouled out, the two combined for 22 points.

Fordham’s fouling in the first half also sent GW to the line 16 times, and they made the Rams pay for it. They sank 13 of their first-half shots from the charity stripe compared to the four the Rams hit.

But one concern for the Colonials was Jones, who was seen limping off the court late in the game after her team had all but locked in the victory.

“This is an opportunity to play for a championship,” Tsipis said. “She’ll be ready to go tomorrow. Just precautionary, there was no need to have her in there in the end.”

They’ll be no rest for the weary, as the Colonials will look to capture their first conference championship since 2003 on Sunday. They will face the winner of Dayton and Duquesne’s semifinal game Saturday.

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Caption. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

The Colonials will move on to the A-10 tournament semifinals after defeating Saint Louis 77-63 on Friday. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

RICHMOND – It was a tale of two halves in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament for the women’s basketball team, which ultimately went on to defeat Saint Louis 77-63 on Friday.

The Colonials knew they wouldn’t have an easy path through the A-10 tournament after the Billikens knocked off VCU on Thursday – and it showed in the first half.

GW and Saint Louis, the only team to take down the Colonials during conference play, battled for the entire first frame.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was some extra motivation,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “Just because when you finish the regular season with one conference loss and you happen to be playing that same team, I’d be lying.”

The Colonials never gave up the lead, but they couldn’t put any real distance between themselves and their opponent in the first half. Saint Louis matched nearly every shot GW took, pulling even at one point midway through the half and never trailing by more than eight.

The X factor for the Colonials in the first was sophomore forward Caira Washington, who led the offense for much of that frame, scoring 14 points and pulling down seven boards. She would finish the game with 24 points and was a rebound shy of a double-double.

“[I was] just getting into the right spots,” Washington said. “They were bringing two to double [frontcourt mate Jonquel Jones], and I just make my moves as quickly as possible. That worked for me today.”

The game started to shift GW’s way almost as soon as the buzzer went off signaling the start of the second half.

Behind the strong game of GW’s two bigs, sophomore guard Hannah Schaible had a good game, tying Jones with 14 points and dishing out five assists.

“As the game moved along, more and more people contributed for us,” Tsipis said. “Hannah Schaible was really good, a huge three-pointer in the first half. As we closed the first half, it gave us the same mentality as we started the second half.”

Washington had two steals early in the second, which helped swing momentum in the direction of the Colonials. They didn’t take their foot off the gas, while Saint Louis, whose starters all played significant minutes in their win over VCU, began to slow down early.

GW would hold the lead by as much as 19 midway through the half, anchored by continued strong play from Washington and a good second half from junior forward Jones.

Jones met her season average of a double-double per game, with 14 points and 15 rebounds, and most of that came in the second frame.

Saint Louis tried to launch a late comeback, but with about 3:30 remaining, a thunderous block from Jones and a steal from senior guard Chakecia Miller a minute later were enough to slow down the Billikens.

Saint Louis would bring it as close as seven, but the Colonials had built up enough of a lead that they were able to weather the late run.

As time wound down, the Colonials kept enough distance to force Saint Louis to foul. GW twisted the knife from the charity stripe, hitting free throws late and 81 percent for the day.

Dominance on the boards was also crucial for the Colonials: They grabbed 49 boards – led by Jones’ 15 – compared to Saint Louis’ 30.

“We’re a team all year that’s taken a lot of pride about being really good defensively and making sure people don’t get extra opportunities,” Tsipis said. “Plus 19 on the rebounding margin is the first thing we look at.”

With the win, GW will move on to the semifinals Saturday to face the winner of the Fordham and Richmond game.

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