This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.
At 6-foot-2, freshman center Caira Washington stands above her teammates on the floor.
Graduate students Megan Nipe and Danni Jackson – the shortest member of the squad – have made their presence well known over the past two years.
But Washington, the Georgetown Day product, stood out as the star of the night for the Colonials in their local rivalry game Tuesday at Georgetown, in a game where most of the shots would not fall for the women’s basketball team, losing 78-57.
This performance came after a career-high 13 points against Jackson State Sunday, as Washington appears to be growing comfortable with her role in head coach Jonathan Tsipis’ system.
Her high percentage shots – layups and close to the basket hooks – came courtesy of quiet dishes from Jackson, and were the only shots that GW could rely on Tuesday. Spinning off of her defenders in the paint with consistency, Washington posted her first career double-double: 13 points, 10 rebounds, alongside five blocks and two assists.
That all came in action against fellow freshman, Natalie Butler, the bruising Hoyas center who leads her team in scoring and rebounding – 16.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. The imposing 6-foot-5, back-to-back Big East Rookie of the Week honoree created not only offensive challenges for Washington, but also a tremendous amount of effort on the block on the defensive side of the ball.
“I knew I had to come out strong because 51 [Butler] is a big post player and my main role for this game was to box her out and get to the boards and not let her get as many rebounds as she has in the past games,” Washington said.
The tough task resulted in just 24 minutes of action for Washington, as she found herself in foul trouble early, eventually fouling out with just under six minutes to play. Washington could be seen pushing for position and not settling to be posted up on down low. She understood she took gambles and said that she knows she has to work on that element of her game for the benefit of the team.
“She loves to compete. She doesn’t care if it’s somebody her size, five inches taller, 50 pounds heavier. She goes in and just really follows instructions of how we really want to guard post players and I think she just rises to the occasion,” Tsipis said.
Butler would finish a point above her scoring average, but well below her rebounding norm with 17 points and just eight boards. She scored only four points in the second half – neither coming with Washington on the court.
But the tallest player on the court for GW Tuesday sure wouldn’t mind some help to make a more formidable frontcourt. The return of 6-foot-2 graduate student forward Brooke Wilson to full health and the imminent addition of sophomore transfer, 6-foot-4 Jonquel Jones, will highly benefit the team according to Washington. Jones will be eligible after three more Colonials games – first action likely to come December 21.
“Oh yes, yes. When we get those two back I think we’ll be a set team and people are going to have a lot trouble with us. But right now we’re taking care of business and we’ll just have to wait until they both come back,” Washington said, smiling at the idea of having some added help in the frontcourt.
The difference for the highly-competitive Washington will not be an easier workload on the court, but rather a better chance at a winning season for the 4-3 Colonials.
“She’s heartbroken right now. She’d give up that double double and five blocks up in a second for us to walk out of here with a win,” Tsipis said.