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After his team’s win against Fordham Saturday, head coach Mike Lonergan was still pessimistic about his team’s chances of earning a four seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

“Everytime I watch, nobody helps us out. So I don’t know if I’ll watch or not,” Lonergan said.

On Sunday, Lonergan got all the help that GW could ask for. An early afternoon loss by Massachusetts to Saint Louis in the final seconds gave the Colonials a better outright conference record. As a top-four seed, GW earned a coveted double bye and will not play its first game until the quarterfinals Friday.

Maurice Creek and Isaiah Armwood exit the Smith Center court after the Colonials win over St. Joseph's. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Maurice Creek and Isaiah Armwood exit the Smith Center court after the Colonials win over St. Joseph’s. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

But GW’s movement didn’t end there. Later in the day, Saint Joseph’s fell to La Salle, boosting the Colonials to the three seed after a tiebreaker scenario favored GW. The Colonials got the advantage thanks to their 76-71 victory over Saint Joseph’s on Mar. 5 at the Smith Center.

As the No. 3 seed in the tournament, GW will play their opening round game Friday at 9 p.m. against either No. 6 seeded UMass or No. 11 Rhode Island, who battle Thursday.

GW last played URI on Jan 11. at the Smith Center, with the Colonials defeating the Rams 69-56. The Colonials won the game thanks in part to a huge first half, taking a 24-point lead into halftime. Since that January meeting, the Rams closed out the rest of conference play with a 5-9 record, beating Richmond, Dayton and St. Bonaventure.

UMass was able to accomplish what no other team could against GW this season, handing the Colonials their first and only home loss of the season Feb. 15, 67-61. After trailing by as many as 11 points, the Colonials fought back to tie the game at 59, but were unable to overtake the Minutemen in the final minutes. UMass finished conference play 3-1, including a five-point win over VCU.

If GW faces UMass in the first round it will be the second-consecutive year that the Colonials play the Minutemen in the their conference-tournament opener. As an eleventh seed last season, GW lost to sixth-seeded UMass, 77-72, in the tournament’s opening round.

The A-10 tournament opens on Wednesday, March 12, and runs through Sunday, March 16, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 11:29 p.m.

Preview: Women’s basketball vs. URI

THis post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

Who: GW (14-7, 5-3) vs. Rhode Island (6-15, 1-7)
Where: Smith Center
When: Saturday, Feb. 1 at 2 p.m.

The Rams have lost 43 straight road games. That’s good for the second-longest losing streak in the nation, behind 51 in-a-row for Weber State. Coming into the Smith Center, where the Colonials generally enjoy a strong home-court advantage, Saturday’s game should be a good opportunity for GW to pick up a conference win and work out any offensive kinks with a healthy lineup.

Case for Rhode Island:

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis strategizes and motivates his team during a huddle earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis strategizes and motivates his team during a huddle earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Although the Rams have trouble scoring, averaging a conference low 54.0 points per game, they do boast a defense that allows the second-lowest number of points per game in the Atlantic 10 (58.3 points). If Rhode Island can control the pace of the game, then a slow-paced, low-scoring affair could go in their favor.

Freshman Kallie Banker broke out for 16 points in URI’s last game against Fordham. It was a career-high for the 5-foot-10 guard who is averaging 4.4 points per game. This adds a third scoring guard to the mix for the Rams, including their two top scorers – sophomore Tayra Melendez and senior Kerry Wallack – averaging 12.7 and 9.9 points per game, respectively.

If the Rams can add Banker as a viable scoring threat and control the pace, then they’ll have a slim chance of breaking their road losing streak in DC. Plus, if either sophomore Jonquel Jones or graduate student Megan Nipe can’t find their rhythm, the Colonials may struggle out of the gate.

Case for GW:

The Colonials lead the A-10 in offensive rebounding with 17.4 boards per game. Jones and freshman Caira Washington have dominated the glass all season long and should have no difficulty providing second-chance opportunities for GW Saturday.

After a trouncing of Massachusetts on the road, GW should have a full set of confidence heading home – not to mention a fairly healthy lineup. Nipe should see her most effective game yet, potentially reaching the 20-plus point mark.

Look for sophomore Alexis Chandler to break out of her slump, as well. The usual spark plug off the bench, driving and fighting her way to the rim, is averaging just 2.33 points per game in her last three contests. In 16 minutes of action against Massachusetts she went scoreless, although she did pick up three rebounds, one assist and one steal.

By the end of the game – or even by halftime – the Colonials should find themselves with a large lead and hopefully resembling the type of team they want to model the rest of the season.

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Sophomore Kethan Savage drives past a Rhode Island defender in GW's easy win Saturday. Savage finished with 14 points. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Sophomore Kethan Savage drives past a Rhode Island defender in GW’s easy win Saturday. Savage finished with 14 points. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

For GW, there’s no place like home.

GW (13-3, 1-1) used one of its best first-half efforts and the energy of the home-court crowd to take down Rhode Island, 69-56. The win, its first conference win after a tough loss to La Salle Thursday, keeps the Colonials at a perfect 8-0 on the season at the Smith Center.

The Colonials were led by sophomore forward Kevin Larsen’s 17 points on 8-10 shooting in just 24 minutes of play. While the Rams struggled on offense, Larsen flourished, scoring six points in just the first three minutes.

“When I get off to a good start, it usually gives me a good game for the rest of the game,” Larsen said. “I was just trying to shake off the La Salle loss. I missed a lot of open layups and it had been bothering me since the game, so I was just trying to come in and score.”

Although only a 13-point win for the Colonials, at the half, GW was up by 24. The Rams had failed to score until the 13:50 mark in the first half – on a goaltending call – and didn’t actually find the basket until the 11:17 mark. But by then, it was a 19-4 GW lead.

URI shot just 24 percent from the field in the first, while committing nine turnovers that led to eight points for the Colonials. They were dominated on the boards 24-15, subsequently getting outscored by GW 26-10 in the paint.

At a timeout midway through the first, head coach Dan Hurley slammed his clipboard down to the ground in frustration. It would later reach a point, though, where he didn’t even need to say anything at all.

His URI squad just couldn’t get anything to fall, not reaching double digits until 1:43 left in the first half, while GW seemed to score on almost every possession. The stand out duo of Xavier Munford and E.C. Matthews was limited to a combined 15 points on 6-20 shooting.

“We knew this was a big game for us,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “We didn’t have a lot of turnaround time getting back late Thursday night after La Salle, so we just told our guys, there’s a good buzz around our program and there’s no shame in losing.”

The Colonials would lead by as many 32 points after starting the second half on a 6-0 run, but Lonergan admittedly said they tried to eat some clock down the stretch in the second half.

The Rams used that time to crawl back into the game, fueled by a season-high 16 points on 8-9 shooting from freshman Hassan Martin. But even as GW failed to knock down a three until 5:39 left to go in the game, the Colonials kept the lead at double-digits with their play in the paint.

“It’s really important for us to establish an inside game,” Lonergan said. “Mo Creek is going to get hot again that’s for sure, but we have to get the ball inside. It gets teams in foul trouble and gets us to the free throw line.”

Also finishing in double digits for GW were sophomores Patricio Garino, who finished with 14 points and five rebounds, and Kethan Savage, who also finished with 14. Senior Isaiah Armwood played a team-high 34 minutes, putting up 10 points, while bringing down 10 boards.

The Colonials again will have a short turnaround time until a very tough matchup with VCU on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Lonergan said the team will need to be confident and composed with the ball against the Rams’ havoc defense and find other ways to score of they struggle shooting the ball from outside.

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Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 11:53 p.m.

Men’s Basketball Preview: GW vs. Rhode Island

WHO: GW (12-3, 0-1) vs. Rhode Island (9-7, 0-1)
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 11 @ 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: Smith Center

Case for Rhode Island:

The Rams were one point away from starting their Atlantic 10 season on a huge high note. Facing A-10 favorite Saint Louis, URI overcame an eight-point halftime deficit to take the lead halfway through the second half, before losing by a free throw, 59-58. Now, they find themselves in the same position as the Colonials – looking for their first conference win.

Then-Ffreshman forward Patricio Garino leaps through Rhode Island defenders for a bucket last season. Hatchet File Photo

Then-Ffreshman forward Patricio Garino leaps through Rhode Island defenders for a bucket last season. Hatchet File Photo

Coming into the season, the Rams were picked to finish one place ahead of the Colonials (9th) in the preseason A-10 standings. Although they currently sit in the bottom tier of the rankings, URI has been able to achieve its winning record through its defense. The Rams rank fifth in the A-10 in three-point field defense (.296 percent) and third in the league in blocked shots per game (4.9 bpg).

Against a team like GW – who has found success shooting from behind the arc, but struggled in games when the long ball doesn’t fall – URI may pose a problem.

On the offensive side, the Rams are led by senior Xavier Munford, who ranks eighth in the A-10 at 15.8 points per game. Munford, along with freshman E.C. Matthews, are the reigning A-10 player and rookie of the week. Matthews is second on the team, averaging 12.4 points per game. The Rams will need strong performances from the duo if they hope to keep up with the potent Colonials offense.

Case for GW:

Combine GW’s aggressive, turnover-causing defense with URI’s lackluster offense, and this game appears to be a bad matchup for the Rams.

URI has the second-lowest scoring offense in the A-10 at 67.8 points per game, probably due to their poor .429 shooting percentage and league worst .307 three-point shooting percentage. On the flip side, GW forces 14.5 turnovers per game, while already holding opponents to 66.3 points per game. The Colonials should have no problem containing the Rams offense, and will look to get a lot of easy baskets in transition.

GW, though, is coming off just as hard of a conference opening loss to La Salle, 76-72. Two positives come out of that loss for the Colonials: the re-emergence of sophomore Patricio Garino and the offensive success without the usual production from team-leading scorer Maurice Creek.

Garino has missed significant time this season due to lingering finger injuries, but scored a season-high 15 points against the Explorers. His presence adds another dose of energy and transitional threat to the Colonials offense. With Creek scoring just eight points in the loss, senior Isaiah Armwood picked up the slack with a 15 point, 12 rebound night. Armwood will hope to find his offensive form in A-10 play and improve upon his 11.4 points per game.

Playing at home, where GW has not lost all season, this should be the game where the Colonials gets their first A-10 win.

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Senior outside hitter Rachael Goss spikes the ball during Sunday's match against Rhode Island. GW lost in four sets, bringing an end to the team's four-game winning streak. Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior outside hitter Rachael Goss spikes the ball during Sunday’s match against Rhode Island. GW lost in four sets, bringing an end to the team’s four-game winning streak.
Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by contributing sports editor Sean Hurd.

The women’s volleyball team had their four-game winning streak snapped Sunday, when they dropped a four set match to the University of Rhode island (25-22, 25-22, 25-23, 25-18) on senior day at the Smith Center.

“We didn’t put it together today,” head coach Amanda Ault said. “I don’t think we truly ever got going, our passing broke down, and we didn’t stay aggressive on the service line.”

The Colonials fell victim to a Rams team that came out of the gate playing a high intensity game, which Ault says caught her team off guard. GW came out flat on the pin. Within the first seven points of the match, URI had amounted 3.5 blocks against a GW (14-12, 9-3 A-10) team that failed to adjust.

“We started off slow, and just weren’t able to pick it up like we usually are able to,” senior defensive specialist Jessica Burr said.

The Rams’ success came in large part from their attacking Sunday afternoon, with three Rams hitters totaling double-digit kills in the four-set win.

But URI (14-15, 6-7 A-10) played far from a perfect game, and gave GW multiple chances to retake the momentum with 11 service errors in the match. The Colonials simply failed to capitalize on the opportunities.

Ault says that her team may have lost focus of the importance of today’s match with the Atlantic 10 tournament just 12 days away.

“I think we got too far ahead of ourselves,” Ault said. “We need make sure we are looking at what’s right in front of us instead of down the road.”

Despite the loss, a handful of Colonials had solid performances Sunday. Junior Kelsey Newman led all players with 17 kills while outside hitter Landon Garvik totaled followed with 11 kills of her own.

Sophomore libero Maddy Doyle tied the game high with 12 digs while Burr and freshman setter Emily Clemens tallied 10 digs respectively.

After posting a 6-1 record in conference home games, the Colonials will now look to close out the season strong on the road with important matches against Saint Louis on Friday and Dayton on Sunday.

While Ault was displeased about her team’s performance Sunday, she says that she’d rather have her team experience a loss on their floor today, instead of in a couple of weeks when the circumstances change to “one and done.”

“We need to take what we learned from this match, what we need to work on and really just be cognizant of that this week in practice,” Ault said. “What’s in front of us is st. louis and that’s it. We need to take care of them on Friday night and our focus will switch from there.”

GW will travel to Missouri Friday to take on Saint Louis at 7 p.m.

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This post was written by Hatcet reporter David Plotnick.

There GW was again. Locked in another tie. It was GW’s third game to reach double-overtime in a month, and another tie wouldn’t do much to help the Colonials in the A-10 standings.

But in the 104th minute at Rhode Island, sophomore Eddie Painter put those worries to rest. After a turnover at midfield, Painter took an assist from Adewole, juked a defender and  and lasered a shot just under the crossbar for a winning goal and his first goal of the season.

The win improved GW’s record to 5-6-2, 2-0-2, and maintains their undefeated record in the conference. The Colonials also jumped to fourth place in the conference standings, a favorable position to be in with only four games left in the regular season.

Coming off of their first win against Fordham in the last six games, the Colonials were looking to improve their record in the conference. So far, GW had tied both Dayton and Saint Louis, but stood at only fifth in the conference standings.

In Friday’s matchup with the Rams, GW’s defense was quickly tested and in only 10 minutes of play, URI’s Adam Camillo had scored the first point of the game to put his team up 1-0.

The remaining 79 minutes went scoreless, until, in the last minute of regulation, freshman Tobi Adewole scored his first goal of the season off an assist by senior Bailey Hinners. Adewole headed the ball in to the left post to tie URI 1-1 with 43 seconds to go.

GW will now head Sunday to UMass, a team that’s 1-3 in the A-10 and 2-11-1 overall.

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Senior goalkeeper Nicole Ulrick was a poweful force in between the posts for GW last week. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior goalkeeper Nicole Ulrick was a poweful force in between the posts for GW last week.
Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Josh Solomon.

Just after the women’s soccer team pulled out a last-second win in their Atlantic-10 conference opener at Rhode Island, two Colonials earned A-10 honors.

With a solid defensive effort between the posts, senior goalkeeper Nicole Ulrick took home A-10 Conference Player of the Week honors, and after her game-winning goal in the 89th minute, freshman Kate Elson was awarded Co-Rookie of the Week honors.

Ulrick recorded a career-high 10 saves against the Rams, including a dramatic diving save in the 82nd minute of the then-scoreless game. The offense had been controlling the tempo in their previous games, but Rhode Island gave Ulrick and the back line their biggest challenge of the season.

It was her third shutout on the season, playing the entire game as usual. Ulrick has not missed a minute in goal this season, totaling 870 minutes with a save percentage of .783 – fifth in the A-10.

Elson found the far post from just off the end line after splitting her defenders with less than 90 seconds to play in the 0-0 game against URI. It was her first goal of the season and third point.

It is the first time either player has earned A-10 weekly honors and the first time a GW player was dubbed with Player of the Week honors since then-junior Alex Neal won the recognition last season for her play against Columbia and Cornell. Additionally, Ulrick is the first to earn the award for her in-conference play since then-senior goalie Lindsey Rowe in 2011.

GW will move onto their second game of conference play Friday at home against La Salle. The team will need the efforts from both to take down an Explorers team that has not lost a regular season in-conference game since October 2010.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff-writer Josh Solomon.

With 10 minutes left to play in the women’s soccer team’s Atlantic 10 conference opener against Rhode Island, head coach Sarah Barnes was already preparing for what appeared to be another overtime game.

Then, she subbed in freshman Kate Elson.

Sophomore Kristi Abbate faces off against a defender in a match earlier this season against American. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster

Sophomore Kristi Abbate faces off against a defender in a match earlier this season against American. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster

Elson had no regular season goals and only one goal in an exhibition up to this point, but Barnes needed a player with “good range and good taste” to lead a last-minute offensive attack.

Now with just 90 seconds to play, junior Nicole Belfonti passed to Elson, who quickly split the Rhode Island defenders that had held GW to just three shots all game. She dribbled to the end line, beat her defender, took a touch off for a better angle and found the far post – the only possible spot.

“When the goal went in, 90 seconds after the game the whole bench and all of our fans went nuts,” Barnes said. “Again, not only was it a great goal at the end of the game, it was also an exceptional play.”

It was just the Colonials’ sixth conference win in the last four years and the first in the A-10 opener since 2010, when now-senior Alex Neal struck home the team’s two goals for the victory.

This time, unlike all games this season in which the Colonials have outshot their opponent, GW capitalized on its one real opportunity at a goal.

The Colonials (4-2-3, 1-0-0), though, did not control the tempo for most of the game against an aggressive and foul-heavy Rams (5-7-0, 0-2-0).

“They always are a physical, feisty team. They high pressured really the entire game,” Barnes said. “It makes it hard to move the ball and it makes it hard to connect passes. We definitely struggled a little bit at times, especially in the first half.”

But Barnes said her players adjusted well in the second half and found strength in their back line from players like sophomore Brooke Bean. She was substituted out in the 81st minute for Elson, but played all 80 minutes prior, helping to hold up the defense that stymied the home team to no goals, despite 16 shots and seven corner kicks.

The highlight of the defense came from Senior goalkeeper Nicole Ulrick was the highlight of the defense, saving a season-high 10 shots on goal, including one big save in the 82nd minute.

A Rams senior forward drove a straight shot from distance that was placed perfectly to sneak its way under the crossbar. Ulrick moved her feet and leaped, timing it perfectly, to tip the ball up and over the goal, Barnes said.

“You need your goal keeper to make a save like that to keep you in the game like this to score like Kate did. It’s what you expect to do but so frequently goalkeepers aren’t able to do that. So it was a big time save. She’s definitely a hero for making it tonight,” Barnes said.

The team will look for the same outcome next Friday against two-time A-10 defending champ, La Salle. They welcome the Explorers – who have not lost a regular season game since October 29, 2010 – for the team’s home conference opener.

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Men’s basketball will play in 10 conference games in 2013-2014 against teams that reached the NCAA postseason last year, including a home-and-home pairing with powerhouse VCU.

Then-senior forward Isaiah Armwood goes up for an aggressive layup against a formidable VCU defense. Hatchet File Photo

The 16-game Atlantic 10 schedule announced Wednesday, toughens GW’s road to the conference tournament, as the team squared off in only six games against postseason teams last year.  The team will also play a home-and-home against local rival George Mason.

Other home games include Fordham, Duquesne, Rhode Island, Saint Josephs, and UMass – the team that eliminated the Colonials from postseason play last season. GW will also hit the road to compete against Saint Bonaventure, Dayton, Richmond,and last years A-10 champion Saint Louis. Dates and times will be announced at a later date

VCU, La Salle and Saint Louis each earned NCAA Tournament bids last year, while four others participated in the NIT and College Basketball Invitational.

The Colonials posted a 6-6 regular season record last year against teams they will play in 2013-14.

No matter how the Colonials fare, however, they will head to Brooklyn, N.Y. to compete in the A-10 Championships in the Barclays Center. Athletic director Patrick Nero said in an interview last week that the conference will send each team to the tournament, the first time that’s happened since  2005.

The entire schedule won’t surface until later this year, but details have already emerged about the Colonials’ non-conference opponents, as the team will travel to Kansas State, and take on Georgia, Rutgers and Maryland. The Colonials will also head to Orange County, Calif. for November’s Wooden Legacy tournament that includes a bracket filled with Miami (Fla.), Creighton and Marquette.

 

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Josh Solomon.

GW gave up 13 runs, surrendered 20 hits and committed three errors Friday in their season-ending loss to Saint Louis.

Ugly numbers, certainly. But despite the onslaught of offense by the Billkens – and the Colonials’ silent bats – GW did not walk away from the Charlotte stadium ashamed.

Instead, the team felt like they beat the odds, winning their first playoff game since 2004 after entering the season as the last-place pick in the 15-team conference and then starting a dreadful 0-9.

The Colonials finished the season winning eight of their last nine games to improve to 15-9 in league play, earning them the fifth seed for postseason play and their best conference finish since 2005.

All of this ultimately led to the Colonials’ exit from the A-10 tournament as a final four team. They were in the mix with the top teams from the division, including a Saint Louis team that is believed to make the College World Series regardless of whether they win and qualify for it.

The Billikens were the number one seed, but were upset early in their matchup with fourth-seeded Xavier in the second round, the same Musketeers team that upended GW in their first round matchup. The chain of events sent Saint Louis into the losers’ bracket in this double elimination format, setting them up with an eventual game against the streaking Colonials.

GW was fresh off a walk-off win earlier in the day against three-seeded Rhode Island. Ritchie elected to go with senior Justin Albright to start the game, instead of an array of other arms, including freshman Max Kaplow, one of the possible starters.

Albright, the team’s MVP, has led the Colonials all season, with the team often hinging on his performance at the plate. Albright normally found himself on the mound during middle-of-the-week games as an extra arm who could match up and work hard against other teams’ mid-week starters.

But the graduating senior was not able to match up well with Saint Louis’ potent offense. A leadoff double down the left-field line started the trouble for Albright and the Colonials and before GW could even think that this game was going to be a tight one, the Billkens had bopped the ball all around the GW outfield. Four doubles, five runs, five hits, one error and one out later, Albright was bounced from the game.

GW did fight back after the seven-run onslaught, scoring one run after senior Tyler McCarthy singled to right center to lead off the inning, took second on a wild pitch and then scored on a single by freshman Eric Kalman.

The Colonials would tack on just one more run in the fourth inning, courtesy of a junior Owen Bieghtol leadoff double and sacrifice fly to right field from senior Derek Brown, but the Billikens would tack on even more themselves.

Ritchie threw in several pitchers to piece together the game. Luke Staub finished up the first inning, followed by freshman Bobby LeWarne in the second.

Kaplow finally found his way to the mound in the third inning. He had yet to pitch in a league game since April 6 after developing arm fatigue, following throwing two consecutive complete games earlier in the season.

His first inning back was not as sharp as he might have wanted it to be though, giving up two runs on three hits, including one wild pitch to score a run. He settled down over his next two innings, giving up no hits and only rendering one base runner off a misplayed ball in the infield.

Three other pitchers came in to finish up, making it a grand total of seven Colonial pitchers, to the Billkens’ one, who threw a complete game with seven strikeouts.

GW finally got to Saint Louis’ pitcher in the ninth – sort of. Singles from Brown and Kalman and a walk set up a RBI single for Albright, his only hit in the game. They pushed across just one more on an error, before the game ultimately ended in their 13-4 defeat.

Saint Louis will move onto to play Xavier, the same team that beat both GW and the Billkens earlier in the tournament. They will also most likely find themselves in even further postseason ball at the College World Series.

As for the Colonials, the loss wraps up a 26-32 season, with a most impressive 15-9 record in the A-10 that saw them jump up from a last-place finish in 2012. They rode their 11 graduating seniors to their first A-10 championship appearance since 2006, and their first postseason win since 2004.

With several freshmen having started in the field this season, and 20 recruits coming in Ritchie’s first recruiting class, there’s one thing for sure: They won’t be picked to finish last next year.

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