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.