This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.
Down by one point with two seconds to play against Towson Saturday, head coach Jonathan Tsipis knew who he would target for the Colonials final possession.
His graduate student guard: Megan Nipe.
In easily her best season as a Colonial, Nipe has established herself as the team’s go-to scorer.
Although the shot didn’t fall after a contested look and a questionable no call, Tsipis has said he would go to her again if in a must-score situation.
“It was the person we were designing the play for and I’ll take [Nipe] shooting that every single time,” Tsipis said.
On nights like the women’s basketball team upset over then-No. 10 Cal, Nipe is exactly who the Colonials needed down the stretch. With her 31 points in the game, Nipe ignited the offense and was lauded as the Atlantic-10 player of the week.
Since then, she’s put up 31 once more – against Jacksonville State – and was averaging an impressive 18.4 ppg, fourth best in the conference, heading into the matchup against Towson.
But she had help against the Golden Bears. Three other GW players scored in double digits that night. In their upset loss to Towson, Nipe was the only scorer in double figures.
The loss brought the Colonials down to a .500 record at 4-4, and highlighted a key problem that GW will need solve before conference play.
Tsipis hit this on the head after the Towson game, adding an important end note to his statement about Nipe being the team’s go-to scorer: She can’t carry the team in every game if the Colonials want to get back to their winning ways.
“We can’t rely on her to score on every possession,” Tsipis said.
For two games in a row now, Nipe’s shot has gone cold. She may have scored 23 against Towson, but 17 came in the first half in which the Colonials finished leading by 10. They fell apart in the second half, when less than 17 percent of Nipe’s shots fell. Against Georgetown, Nipe shot just under 24 percent for the entire game.
Yet in both games, Nipe has taken 10 more shots than her next closest teammate.
When Nipe’s shot isn’t on, the team becomes weaker than the sum of its parts, giving up good looks in order to get the ball to number 22. In the second half against Towson, even though she only scored two buckets in the second half, she shot the ball twelve times.
“I think because [Nipe] had such a good first half they caught it in spots where they could attack and score and they kept throwing it back out [to Nipe],” Tsipis said.
The problems start when teams pressure her heavily, although Nipe says, whether they swish through the net or clang off the rim, her shots are the same. But Towson’s aggressive man coverage in the second half somehow made the difference, and the Colonials couldn’t counter with another scoring option.
“They knew where [Nipe] was at all times,” Tsipis said. “It’s a chess match.”
The addition of 6-foot-5 Jonquel Jones on December 21st against North Carolina A&T may help solve GW’s problem, giving them a legitimate inside presence, but until then, Tsipis’ biggest offensive concern has to be reducing his team’s reliance on Nipe.