If shooting is an art, it’s one that the Colonials seemed to forget for the entirety of the first quarter on Wednesday night.
The Colonials (19-4, 9-1 A-10) shot 2-for-16 in the first set and could not make up the difference as they lost their first conference game of the season, 76-69, on the road against Fordham (10-12, 5-4 A-10).
Nothing seemed to be working for GW right off the tip. The Colonials missed open jumpers and forced shots they should not have taken. The Rams did not look particularly smooth either, but they were feeding on the Colonials’ mistakes and finding ways to score.
“We spent the whole first quarter shooting jumpers and not getting enough touches inside. If we were moving the ball, getting it inside, and missing those than we would be at least probing the defense. But we didn’t get any easy baskets and we did not get to the free throw line enough,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.
Fordham junior guard Danielle Burns started imposing her presence in the first quarter in a game where she was the dominating force. She scored 10 points out of the team’s 16 in the opening frame while adding four rebounds. Burns went on to score a game-high and career-high 31 points on 78.5 percent shooting while adding seven rebounds.
In the second quarter, graduate student guard Lauren Chase and sophomore guard Bri Cummings showed that the Colonials were not going down easy. Chase was all over the floor, scoring two layups in traffic losing defender after defender. Cummings provided the Colonials with the offensive spark they needed by scoring 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
That push was not enough for the Colonials as sophomore forward G’mrice Davis and the Rams extended their lead to 37-27 going into the half. Davis scored 11 points in the second quarter and got the ball in the basket on five consecutive Fordham possessions.
Along with Burns, Davis also had an efficient night. She went 7-for-10 from the floor to finish with 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists.
“We were not sound defensively and Fordham did a great job putting us on our heels. We gave [Burns and Davis] confidence from the beginning and that just spread,” Tsipis said. “We just have to be a better collective team defensively.”
In the beginning of the second half the Colonials showed signs of life. They got out in transition and had an aggressive mentality on the boards. After trailing the Rams in the rebounding category at halftime, GW wound up with a +9 rebounding margin including a +14 mark off the offensive glass.
“We are at best when we are in transition, pushing the ball and getting the floor spread so our posts can run. In the second half we wanted to change the tempo and keep it our way knowing that Fordham wanted to play a structured, half-court game on both ends,” Tsipis said.
This play allowed the Colonials to outscore the Rams 18-11 in the third quarter cutting the Fordham lead to three going into the fourth, 45-48.
The Colonials pulled within one, but were never able to tie the game or go ahead during the matchup. Efficient scoring from Burns and slow play in the last quarter never gave the Colonials an opportunity to come away with the win.
In the final seconds, it appeared that the Colonials had one more opportunity to get the victory. Chase hit a second-chance fade-away three pointer and then was sent to the line the next possession with a chance to make it a four-point game. She made 1-of-2 forcing the Colonials to foul and eventually lead to the defeat.
Wednesday was the fourth game that senior forward Jonquel Jones had to sit out for the Colonials. The Preseason All-American had previously led the Colonials in scoring and rebounding as well as being a focal point of their interior defense. Asked about Jones’ health, Tsipis said that there was “no update, she is still day-to-day.”
Without Jones, Chase has stepped up offensively for the Colonials and been a go-to scorer when they need a basket. In her second straight matchup leading the team in scoring, Chase put up 18 points and eight assists with only one turnover.
“[Chase] is doing a really good job at deciding when to go to the rim and when to get other people shots,” Tsipis said. “She has been putting people in a position to be successful. I also thought she did a wonderful job on the defensive side.”
This loss ends the Colonials 14-game winning streak that dates all the way back to Dec. 6 at Memphis.
The Colonials return to action on Sunday for another road matchup, this time against Richmond (9-13, 2-7 A-10). Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.