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What was conceived last year slammed into the Smith Center with a bang Friday night.

It was men’s basketball junior Patricio Garino’s winning bucket in the Colonials Invasion dunk competition, the finale of the event that introduced the men’s and women’s basketball teams to GW fans and built excitement for the upcoming season.

Garino got the idea for his dunk – which he caught off a lob from teammate Kevin Larsen up in the Smith Center balcony – last year, but he was sidelined from the competition with an injury. Now, Garino said the team is not focusing on the past.

“Last year means nothing. This year, we’re going for more,” Garino said to fans before executing his dunk, which earned a perfect score.

After two successful seasons for the men and women last year, the stands packed with students and parents surged with anticipation, and higher expectations, for what’s next.

Both men’s head coach Mike Lonergan and women’s head coach Jonathan Tsipis called on the crowd to come out to games and give GW a strong home-court advantage at the Smith Center. Tsipis told the crowd to make it not just the toughest place to play in the A-10, but in the nation.

“The crowds were really good, especially at the end of the season, and we’re hoping it carries over,” Lonergan said. “Tonight’s kind of a good start. I know it got me fired up because it really means the season’s quickly approaching.”

The evening was an opportunity for the fans to meet some of the characters of the new season: the 12 new additions to men’s and women’s basketball.

Freshmen Darian Bryant and Yuta Watanabe were featured in the dunk contest, and all new roster members made their debuts in front of the crowds after introductions from their families and friends were projected on the Smith Center’s jumbotron.

Still, fans should hope that Bryant and Watanabe got their growing pains out at Colonials Invasion and before the season begins. There were more misses than makes in their portions of the dunk contest, and though Bryant’s alleyoop after twizzling his body around under the basket earned creativity points from the judges, he and Watanabe could not escape some playful ribbing from their coach.

“Yuta was working on them earlier but he kept missing,” Lonergan said. “I’m glad that Pato saved the day because the dunk contest was a little shaky early.”

The event also featured artistic performances throughout the night. Student athletes from men’s and women’s soccer, men’s water polo and swimming and diving made appearances as announcers for groups like Bhangra, the Voice Gospel Choir and Capital Funk. Gymnastics started off the evening, flipping and twisting along a springboard on the arena floor.

But after the dancers had left the stage, after the lights came back on and the hazy puffs of the fog machine had settled, both basketball teams stayed on the court as the crowd trailed out, letting it sink in that their show has yet to begin.

“We got a lot of good publicity. It gave us some momentum and got our program back on the map,” Lonergan said. “But what that means is we’ve got to be ready. We’ve got to give everybody their best shot, we can’t surprise anybody anymore.”

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Star forward Jonquel Jones charges to the basket during a game last season. Hatchet File Photo

Star forward Jonquel Jones charges to the basket during a game last season. Hatchet File Photo

Women’s basketball will play at least 12 of last year’s postseason teams as part of its 27-game regular season schedule, the team announced Thursday.

The Colonials full schedule includes at least 11 non-conference games before a 16-game Atlantic 10 slate. Three of GW’s games will be broadcast on national television.

“We have a very demanding schedule this year with six non-conference opponents who played in the postseason last year, including four in the NCAA Tournament,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said in a release. “We always want our non-conference schedule to prepare us for the challenges of Atlantic 10 play, where every game is a battle.”

Before their regular season opener against Florida Gulf Coast University, the Colonials will play an exhibition game at home against Virginia Union on Nov. 9. The first official home game will be against Bowie State on Nov. 19.

Following Bowie State, 2014 Final Four team Maryland will come to the Smith Center on Nov. 22. It will be the second year in a row that GW has hosted a team coming off a Final Four run. Last November, the Colonials upset then-No. 10 California at home.

“The ability to have top-10 teams play in the Smith Center on a yearly basis is a great opportunity for our program,” Tsipis said. “We look forward to packing the arena for this game – and every game – like we did for the White Out against Cal last year.”

GW will take on at least 12 opponents that were ranked in the NCAA’s top 100 in RPI last season. The team will play Dayton (16) twice during A-10 play and N.C. State (18) in the opener of the Junkanoo Jam on Nov. 28. The Colonials could also face Purdue (9) in the Bahamas-based tournament.

An additional game could be added to the non-conference schedule in the coming weeks, according to the team release.

The conference schedule will open against the Flyers on Jan. 4, which will be broadcast on ESPNU. Then on Feb. 8, the Colonials will host Dayton at the Smith Center, a game that’s scheduled to be broadcast on CBS Sports Network. The CBS Sports Network will also air GW’s road game at Massachusetts on Jan. 18.

A tough stretch of conference games for GW comes in mid-February, with three-straight match ups against teams that played in the postseason last year. The Colonials will host St. Bonaventure, which advanced to the second round of last year’s WNIT tournament, on Feb. 15 before heading to VCU, another WNIT team, on Feb. 18. On Feb. 21, GW will host Fordham, the defending A-10 champion.

The A-10 Championship will once again be held at the Richmond Coliseum, and will take place from March 4 to 8.

Nine letterwinners return from last year’s 23-11 team, the most successful season for GW in six years. The team posted an 11-5 record in A-10 play, and made it to the conference semifinals before ending the year in the third round of the WNIT – the program’s first postseason game since 2008. Five freshman have joined the team who will play alongside returners like A-10 All-Conference Second Team selection Jonquel Jones and A-10 Rookie of the Year Caira Washington.

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After ending last season with an 11-5 record at home, women's basketball head coach Jonathan Tsipis will look to take his team far into the NCAA tournament this year. Hatchet File Photo

After ending last season with an 11-5 record at home, women’s basketball head coach Jonathan Tsipis will look to take his team far into the NCAA tournament this year. Hatchet File Photo

The women’s basketball team will host last year’s regular season champion and NCAA Tournament participant Dayton, Atlantic 10 champion Fordham, Saint Joseph’s and conference newcomer Davidson as part of its eight-game home matchups and 16-game A-10 Conference schedule.

The Colonials will also host Duquesne, George Mason, Richmond and St. Bonaventure, the league announced Monday. GW ended last season with an impressive 15-3 at home.

On the road, the team will face Dayton, George Mason, Richmond, La Salle, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Louis and Women’s National Invitation Tournament participant VCU. The Colonials finished at .500 on the road last season, ending the year with a 6-6 record.

GW finished last season with a 23-11 overall record, a nine-win improvement from the 2012-13 season. The Colonials earned a bid to the WNIT and advanced to the third round, where they were knocked out by the University of South Florida. GW’s two postseason victories were its first since 2008.

With arguably the best recruiting class in the A-10, the Colonials are on track to carry last season’s success into the coming year.

The team will announce a full schedule at a later date.

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Drexel assistant coach Melissa Dunne will join the women’s basketball team as an assistant to head coach Jonathan Tsipis, the athletics department announced Wednesday.

Dunne will fill the vacancy left by associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Megan Duffy, who stepped down after two years at GW to join the coaching staff at the University of Michigan.

“As a coach, I have always been impressed by how she has developed guards, especially point guards,” Tsipis said about Dunne in a release. “The Drexel teams she was a part of were always very detail-oriented and scouted opponents precisely.”

Dunne knows the Atlantic 10 league well from her four years as a point guard at Temple, where she earned an A-10 title as team captain in 2002. A point guard, Dunne was named the team’s most improved player in 1999.

“Coach Tsipis is a proven leader and I am committed to contributing to make GW not only the best team in the Atlantic 10 Conference but also among the best in the country,” Dunne said in the release.

While earning her master’s degree in public communication at Drexel, she joined the team’s staff as a graduate assistant coach in 2006. Dunne left for an assistant coaching job at Rhode Island for the 2006-07 season, and after a year with the Rams, she returned to Drexel as a recruiting coordinator.

Since her return, the Dragons have built up a 140-88 record and made the postseason five times. They secured an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament in 2009 as the Colonial Athletic Association champions. During her first year back at Drexel, the team posted an 8.5-game improvement over the previous season.

As a recruiter, Dunne boasted a class that was ranked No. 8 on ESPN’s list of the Top 20 Mid-Major Recruiting Classes and 13 CAA All-Conference team members.

She’ll look to build on a 2014-15 class of Colonials ranked the best in the A-10. Last season, GW improved its record by nine games.

“As the recruiting coordinator at Drexel, she is well-respected by the [Amateur Athletic Union] and high school coaching community for her hard work and dedication,” Tsipis said.

The Brigantine, N.J. native will specialize in coaching the team’s guards, and Tspis said she has a particular flair for developing talent at the point. Dunne’s Drexel teams led the CAA in assist-to-turnover ratio during three separate years and have ranked among the NCAA’s top-35 in that category every year she has coached them.

Dunne will be tasked with developing newcomers Brianna Cummings, Mia Farmer and Camila Tapias, while working with returning guards like Chakecia Miller and Hannah Schaible to fill the holes left by star guards Danni Jackson and Megan Nipe.

Dunne is also a defensive specialist, with a record of guiding the Dragons to the top of the CAA in points allowed. She led them to eighth best in the NCAA at 51.4 points per game in 2012-13. The Colonials will value her expertise after leaning on a defense-first strategy in 2013-14, though they relied more heavily on their 76.1 points scored per game than their 68.9 points allowed.

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This post was written by contributing sports editor Nora Priniciotti

Then-junior guard Chakecia Miller squeezes pass a George Mason defender for a layup in a January game. File Photo by Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer

Then-junior guard Chakecia Miller squeezes pass a George Mason defender for a layup during a January game. File photo by Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer

For the first time in more than a decade, the women’s basketball team will take a trip to Europe.

The squad will travel to England and France from Aug. 13 to 23 to see the sights and play in exhibition games against European teams, the athletic department announced Tuesday.

Women’s basketball has not traveled internationally since it took a tour of Italy and Switzerland in 2001, but will boast plenty of stamps on their passports by the end of the year, with a tournament in the Bahamas also scheduled for Thanksgiving break.

“[The trip will] greatly enhance our team chemistry by giving our returning players and incoming freshmen an early opportunity to bond while also playing strong international competition,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said in a release.

The team will first head to London, where the women will go on guided tours of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, take a ride on the London Eye and sightsee on a cruise on the River Thames.

GW already took home top marks in the Revolutionary Rivalry with George Mason, but the Colonials will hope to stage a reenactment of the Battle at Yorktown in a game against Barking Abbey, a London-based team.

International tensions will ease, however, with a Colonials youth clinic for Barking Abbey’s younger players.

They will then travel to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Palace of Versailles and the River Seine before departing by train for Marseille and traveling along the French Riviera through Nice and the Principality of Monaco.

The port of Nice in France. Photo used under the Wikimedia Commons License

The port of Nice in France. Photo used under the Wikimedia Commons License

Athletic director Patrick Nero said in a release that giving student-athletes who can not study abroad the chance to travel internationally is a priority for his department.

“While we of course hope this trip allows the women’s basketball team to build on a successful season this past year, more importantly we hope that the experience our student-athletes will gain from an international tour broadens their horizons and enriches their lives,” Nero said.

After their final dinner in Nice, the Colonials will fly home and get to work stateside in preparation for the 2014-15 season, building off their first Atlantic 10 Championship semifinal appearance since 2008 and their nine-win improvement from last season.

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Head coach Jonathan Tsipis speaks at his introductory press conference in 2012.  Hatchet File Photo.

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis speaks at his introductory press conference in 2012. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by assistant sports editor Nora Princiotti.

Women’s basketball head coach Jonathan Tsipis has seen his contract extended through the 2020-21 season, director of athletics and recreation Patrick Nero announced Tuesday.

The announcement comes after a turnaround year for the Colonials, in which they reached the Atlantic 10 semifinals for the first time since 2008, knocking off two ranked teams in the process.

After winning just 25 games in the last four seasons under previous head coach Mike Bozeman, Tsipis was tasked with restoring the reputation of a once nationally known program that had made 15 appearances at the NCAA tournament.

Since he joined GW for the 2012-13 season, Tsipis has not disappointed: He coached the Colonials to a nine-game improvement this season as they finished with a 23-11 overall record.

“We brought Jonathan here to restore the tradition of excellence of GW women’s basketball, and in just two seasons at the helm of our program he has done exactly that,” Nero said in a release. “We’re excited to continue on that path under his leadership in our women’s basketball program.”

Tsipis’ ability to recruit top athletes to the program has marked his success as coach. Freshman Caira Washington earned the A-10 Rookie of the Year award this season after leading the conference in offensive rebounding and field goal percentage.

Sophomore transfer Jonquel Jones, another Tsipis recruit, led the Colonials in scoring with nearly 15 points per game and rebounding with more than 11 rebounds per game. Jones also received postseason honors, earning a spot on the All-Conference Second Team.

Tsipis’ leaps in recruiting are extending into next season: His incoming players are touted as the highest-ranked recruiting class in the A-10 conference.

At season’s end, Tsipis was one of three finalists for the 2013-14 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Region I Coach of the Year, alongside Geno Auriemma, the head coach of National Champion team Connecticut and Louisville head coach Jeff Walz, whose team made an appearance in the Elite Eight.

Tsipis came to GW as a rookie head coach, toting an impressive start to a coaching career with a gold NCAA championship ring on his finger after nine seasons as Muffet McGraw’s associate and recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame.

Tsipis brought the experience of five NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances, with four coming in his last five years in South Bend. He pushed the Colonials to a playoff appearance this season, which was new territory for every player on his roster.

The North Carolina alumnus was one of CollegeInsider.com’s top-10 assistant coaches in the nation after back-to-back NCAA National Championship game appearances in 2011 and 2012. He helped pull together one of the nation’s top-20 recruiting classes in each of his nine years and a top-10 class in three of his last four seasons.

“I want to thank Patrick Nero and President Knapp for bringing me to Washington and for their support and belief in me, my team and my family,” Tsipis said in the release. “George Washington has become a home for us and I’m honored to be the head coach of this proud program.”

The details of Tsipis’ contract have not been publicly released, though Nero has said in the past that Tsipis is the highest-paid women’s basketball coach in the conference.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives towards the net during the Colonials first-round WNIT victory against Eastern Carolina University. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives towards the net during the Colonials first-round WNIT victory against Eastern Carolina University. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Graduate student Megan Nipe remembers a time when getting just 10 wins would’ve been an accomplishment for her and the women’s basketball team.

A time when making it to the WNIT seemed like a dream.

Thursday night, with the Colonials three-game WNIT run and remarkable 2013-14 season coming to an end, she could say one thing for certain: times have changed.

“It’s hard to be sad because I’ve been at GW when we were hoping for double digit wins,” graduate student Megan Nipe said. “We never thought making a run in the postseason was possible.”

Shooting 31.9 percent from the field and getting out-rebounded 56-45, GW would close its season with a 74-59 loss to South Florida – one of the first four teams out of the NCAA Tournament.

GW cut it to a six-point game with just over four minutes to play, but the Bulls scored eight-straight points to solidify the win.

All season long a big ‘what if’ hung over a Colonials team stacked with talent and veteran leadership: Could they all play together healthy?

As they started their run in the WNIT, taking down East Carolina and Villanova, the answer was a ‘yes.’

With those tools all at the disposal of head coach Jonathan Tsipis against USF, it was supposed to be a tight matchup. But, it turns out that a completely healthy postseason run wasn’t the complete truth.

It was known that Nipe, who injured her knee back in December, had been playing through the injury while wearing a brace. After Thursday’s game, though, Tsipis announced that his sharp-shooting leader had not only been playing with a brace – but with a torn ACL.

Graduate student guard Megan Nipe gets tangled up with a Loyola defender earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Graduate student guard Megan Nipe gets tangled up with a Loyola defender earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

“I’d be willing to say that nobody else in the country would be willing to wait three months and play it out,” Tsipis said. “She really built an unbelievable legacy with playing to finish her last year with that.”

Foul trouble plagued the Colonials early on as the Bulls went on a 14-1 run to pull away and go up 16 at the half – the lowest scoring half of the season for GW.

Sophomore Jonquel Jones picked up her second foul with over 10 minutes to play in the first half. With freshman Hannah Schaible also out with two fouls, Tsipis gambled to bring Jones back in. But eight seconds later, the Colonials offensive focal point had her third foul.

“You want to go fighting down to the end with everything you have and that’s what I felt like we did even with the foul trouble. Our kids didn’t back down,” Tsipis said.

Jones would come back to help fuel GW’s second half comeback, ending with 15 points and nine rebounds. Fellow post presence, freshman Caira Washington, had the better statistical night, with 14 points,15 rebounds and five blocks.

Sophomore Jonquel Jones fights off a defender earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Sophomore Jonquel Jones fights off a defender earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

“Things just didn’t go our way,” Washington said. “We kept saying that we had to pick up all the little things, rebounding, boxing out and just communicating.”

In the first half, Nipe held the team afloat. She went 4-for-5 from behind the arc and provided the much-needed spark to keep the Colonials in the game.

Meanwhile, the Bulls did not had a tremendous game from the field, shooting 40.8 percent and going 2-8 for three. What they did do, though, was take care of the ball and have four players score in double digits.

USF sophomore guard Courtney Martin led all scorers with 24 points, dominating the first half. Meanwhile, sophomore forward Alisia Jenkins cleaned up the glass with 12 boards – seven offensive rebounds – and 11 points.

GW kept fifth-year senior, 6-foot-2 shooting guard Inga Orekhova, in check almost the entire game, until her shot finally started to fall late in the second half. With over five minutes to play, the Colonials cut the lead to seven points, but Orekhova hit her first 3-pointer of the game to answer.

“They continued to attack,” Tsipis said. “They put the ball in Orekohva and Williams hands late and those kids stepped up and made their free throws.”

Statistically, graduate student Danni Jackson had a rough night: 2-18 from the field and six turnovers. But she continued to push the tempo and look for her teammates as she had all season, en route to her 200th assist of the season. Jackson finished with 204 dimes, good for second all-time in a single season.

Nipe and her best friend Jackson walked back to the locker room with their arms around each other, just talking.

In all, the Colonials finished tied for second in the A-10, Washington won conference Rookie of the Year, Jones quickly became one of the most dynamic scoring threats that GW has had in a while, and Jackson continued to leave a legacy as one of the greatest point guards in GW history.

A season of accomplishments for a program who met their preseason goal – to raise a banner.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writers Nora Princiotti and Josh Solomon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSqZPhidt7I

Point guard Danni Jackson swung a pass across the court to Megan Nipe, setting up her teammate in front of the GW bench – in front of one of their last Smith Center crowds.

Jackson watched as her fellow graduate student loaded up and knocked down her third trey of the night, then crouched down, wound up and exploded with a big fist pump. The Colonials lead was back to double digits.

“At that point I knew this is our game,” Jackson said. “They had no answer for her [Nipe] tonight.”

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives towards the net during the Colonials first-round WNIT victory against Eastern Carolina University. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives towards the net during the Colonials first-round WNIT victory against Eastern Carolina University. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Nipe would finish with a team-high 20 points, leading GW over East Carolina 86-68 for its first postseason win since 2008, when the team made it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

“It feels awesome,” Jackson said. “I don’t know whether to cry or…”

“She’s not going to cry. She’s fine,” Nipe quickly joked back.

Despite the 18-point victory, the Colonials had trouble closing out the Conference USA team who had made the WNIT just last season. A 17-point first half lead had dwindled all the way down to a one-point game with 10-and-a-half minutes to go in the second half.

Junior forward Shae Nelson led the Pirates’ surge, hitting three-consecutive three-point shots during the run. She finished with a game-high 23 points off the bench and on the defensive side, frustrated GW’s bigs until finally fouling out with just over a minute to play.

A 6-0 GW run, though, and a couple key defensive stops against the physical Pirates team helped the Colonials to never look back. GW would outshoot ECU 43.9 to 31.6 percent from the field, with its frontcourt ultimately earning the advantage, 40-26.

Pirate’s star guard Jada Payne tried to will her team to victory, recording a double-double with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis said the Colonials tempered the Pirates’ long-range success with an even more aggressive hands-in-your-face defense. On four of five of ECU’s first half threes, Tsipis said, GW defenders were caught with their hands down.

“We went out there and locked down on defense. We then got the stop and we scored on the other end and it just gave us our confidence back,” Jackson said. “That’s all we kept saying anyway: we’re fine, we’re fine, we’re fine.”

On the other end of the court, Jackson was one of four Colonials to join Nipe in double figures, with 18 points. Freshman Caira Washington had 14, while junior Chakecia Miller and sophomore Jonquel Jones each added 10.

Miller returned to the lineup in full-force after injuring her back in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals last week. She was limited against Dayton in the semifinals, but was able to join Jackson in what she calls the “best duo in the backcourt in the A-10.”

The duo will now head up to Philadelphia to face Villanova in the second round of the WNIT Sunday at 1 p.m.

“We write on the board ‘one plus,’” said Tsipis about every playoff game. “With each ‘one plus’ that you earn, there are less and less people in this country playing right now and I think our kids are really excited about that.”

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.

Who:

GW (21-10) vs. East Carolina (22-8)

When: Wednesday, March 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Where: Smith Center

How many more times will Megan Nipe and Danni Jackson suit up as Colonials?

GW begins postseason play in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament Wednesday in a first-round game against East Carolina University.

Should the Colonials win, they would move on to the second round to meet the winner of Villanova/Quinnipiac and would likely get one more game at the Smith Center.

Lose, and the doors on this surprisingly successful season – its best in six years – will finally close.

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives past a Dayton defender in GW's 88-79 upset earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives past a Dayton defender in GW’s 88-79 upset earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Case for East Carolina:

The Lady Pirates have only garnered a WNIT bid three times in program history, but this year will make it back-to-back seasons. Total minutes of post season tournament play favors ECU 177-0.

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis said ECU is similar to his GW team in some aspects: athleticism, varied defenses and offensive rebounding.

The Lady Pirates opened the season 21-3, but then dropped the last four of five regular-season games and were booted in their first game of the Conference USA tournament. The Pirates were upset by the No. 13 seed FIU, 87-75.

Redshirt sophomore Jada Payne leads ECU in scoring with 18.8 points per game. The 6-foot-2 forward was the only underclassmen to be named to the All-Conference USA first team. Her versatility – also leading the team in rebounds with 7.4 per game and shooting nearly 40 percent from three-point range – will make her a tough player for the Colonials to contain.

Junior Ondrea Shaw defines the Pirates’ defense, ranking eighth in the nation with 3.4 blocks per game. She broke a single-season blocking record set in 1978 with 98 total blocks this season and has helped her defense limit opponents to just 26.6 percent three-point shooting, 10th best in the NCAA.

ECU will give GW a run for its money in the Colonials greatest area of strength: rebounding. GW is unaccustomed to playing opponents who can keep pace on the boards, but the Pirates actually best them in rebounding margin by half a rebound per game.

Case for GW:

Home is certainly sweet for the Colonials, who are 13-3 at the Smith Center, while ECU has gone just 7-5 when playing on the road. Tsipis said that he requested the game be slated for Wednesday – the first day first-round games are played – so that GW fans will not have left for Raleigh, NC to see the men’s team in the NCAA tournament.

The Colonials and the Pirates have shared just one opponent during the regular season: George Mason. Both teams got wins, but GW showed more dominance, averaging a 21-point margin of victory in two games against the Patriots while, ECU topped them by just nine points at home.

Where the two teams have not shared opponents, GW has faced stronger teams. GW ranks 72nd nationwide in RPI while ECU is ranked 94th, according to the NCAA standings.

After a back injury in the A-10 tournament, the question of junior guard and All-Defensive team member Chakecia Miller is still up in the air. Tsipis said she is a gametime decision, but has looked significantly better, especially in the last two days.

Graduate student Brooke Wilson, who has been out since sustaining an injury against Fordham Feb. 8, will suit up for the game although still being doubtful.

After finding out the matchup late Monday night, Tsipis has done as much as he can to prepare his team for these Lady Pirates. Following their one practice before the game, he was still holding onto the scouting report.

“This becomes a one-game season now,” Tsipis said. “We want to be able to do things with it [the postseason berth], to take another step forward with our program and to be able to hold serve on our court as we’ve done most of the year.”

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

RICHMOND, VA – This game was about responding.

One of head coach Jonathan Tsipis’ favorite words all season, this Atlantic 10 semifinal matchup came down to who would respond: a Dayton team that had recently been upset by the Colonials or a GW team that was coming off its first quarterfinals win since 2008.

No. 1 seed Dayton would be the one to respond, returning the favor to the Colonials with a 89-68 victory to send GW on the short trip home back from Richmond, Va.

“The motivation came when they smacked us in the mouth last time we were there,” Dayton head coach Jim Jabir said. “They punched us right in the face and it hurt. We came out today and we wanted to return the favor.”

Despite the loss, the season is still alive for GW. Its NCAA tournament hopes are likely tapped out, but a decent seed in the WNIT appears in the future. It will mark their first playoff appearance since 2008.

The Colonials sit on the bench during the second half as they saw their A-10 Championship hopes fade away. | Hatchet Staff Photographer Josh Solomon

The Colonials sit on the bench during the second half as they saw their A-10 Championship hopes fade away. | Hatchet Staff Photographer Josh Solomon

In a season with so many different injuries and so many different scoring options, GW had to respond to another injury Saturday at the least fortunate time.

Junior Chakecia Miller, who suffered what appeared to be a lower back or hip injury in Friday’s quarterfinals game, had her abilities and minutes limited on the court. The guard may not have been one of GW’s top scoring options, but she was the All-Defensive centerpiece to the Colonials high-intensity defense.

She started the game because Tsipis said he wanted her to jump right in after warmups, but he elected to sit her for all but the first two minutes of the second half, saying her health was more important and knowing that they still have playoff basketball to come.

With the lacking of the normal staunch defensive pressure at the top of the key, GW’s biggest strong suit – rebounding – weakened as well. It was just the second conference game of the season in which GW was out rebounded, 52-44. Sophomore Jonquel Jones led the team with 13 rebounds, four offensive, and freshman Hannah Schaible had a double-double with 10 rebounds, six offensive.

But the Colonials could not collect rebounds when it mattered most.

Going into the locker room at halftime down 39-25, while shooting 18.2 percent on 6-33 shooting, the Colonials closed to single digits on three consecutive trips down the floor in the second half.

With just under 14 and a half minutes to play, graduate student Danni Jackson nailed a jumper, to cut it to 49-40. The Flyers then followed up missed a 3-pointer with two offensive rebounds to get the lead back to double digits.
Jackson went back down and drained another shot, but the Flyers answered right back and collected another two offensive rebounds and a basket.

Although a Nipe jumper would once again cut the lead to single digits, GW would never get that close the rest of the game.

“It’s just really frustrating, especially because we’re a rebounding team and we couldn’t do the thing we’re known to be best at,” said Jackson, who finished with a team-high 19 points, adding to her seven assists and zero turnovers.

The graduate student’s top-scoring effort came on the heels of a career game from Jones against Saint Joseph’s. Jones went from 30 points Friday to just six on 2-12 shooting. Tsipis said Jones made the right decisions on the court, but couldn’t get into a rhythm as her turnaround jumpers rattled in and out.

“Every time we ran something where Jonquel was involved in a cut, there was an element of physicality involved,” Tsipis said.

Jamir tipped his hat to his 6-foot-3 senior center, Cassie Sant, for frustrating Jones from the start. Jamir described Sant’s performance as “masterful” adding that it was her best defensive game of her career.

For Jackson and Nipe, who finished with a combined 11 points on 4-10 shooting, their goal in raising a banner came to an end. But they know they still have postseason basketball ahead of them.

“It was still a tough loss but there was no doubt in my mind that I had another game left so it wasn’t as much emotion, besides anger,” Jackson said.

If GW receives a high seed in the WNIT, the Colonials could be headed back to the Smith Center for postseason play. Seeding for the WNIT will be announced Mar. 17 with the opening round beginning on Mar. 19.

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