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Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 11:54 p.m.

Osuchukwu, Doyle earn conference honors

The Colonials celebrate a point in a match earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

The Colonials celebrate a point in a match earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alex Kist.

After standout performances against Saint Louis and Dayton this weekend, sophomore middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu and junior libero Maddy Doyle both received conference honors, the league announced Monday.

Osuchukwu was named A-10 Player of the Week, and Doyle was named Co-Defensive Player of the Week.

Osuchukwu elevated her game this weekend against two of the A-10’s top teams in the Billikens and the Flyers. The honor marks Osuchukwu’s third A-10 Player of the Week award of her career.

Against Dayton, Osuchukwu racked up a career-high 30 kills and hit a blistering .474 percentage to help the Colonials knock off the previously undefeated conference leader 3-2 in a comeback victory.

Through two games, Osuchukwu tallied 45 kills on a .429 attack percentage, while racking up 12.0 total blocks (three solo, nine assists) against the opposition.

Osuchukwu is just the fifth player in program history to receive the A-10 Player of the Week for three different weeks.

Doyle was named Co-Defensive Player of the Week along with junior Janna Kafka of Dayton.

The weekly award is Doyle’s first of her career. Doyle, who leads the A-10 in digs per set (4.44), amassed 42 digs over the Colonials’ 1-1 weekend. Doyle led all players in Friday’s loss to Saint Louis with 16 digs and recorded a season-high 26 digs against Dayton on Saturday.

GW will be on the road for the next two weeks, starting with a Friday match against Davidson at 7 p.m.

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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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ST. LOUIS — The men’s basketball team had several possessions and scoring runs that kept the Colonials close with the No. 10 team in the country.

Saint Louis would make a run, GW (20-7, 8-5) would push back, but forced errors and a debilitating defense would lead to a 66-59 loss for the Colonials. The loss – on the road in front of a hostile sellout crowd – was GW’s third in four games.

“I’m glad we didn’t fold. It was a great atmosphere and I’m glad we came back and tied it up,” head coach Mike Lonergan said.

But, he added: “We’ve got to get our swagger back.”

The Colonials stormed back from a 14-point deficit to tie the game with a little over nine minutes left in the game. But GW’s shooting then went ice cold. It was a story of the game: close, but not quite enough.

GW played a one-dimensional first half, scoring 16 of their 19 points from field goals inside the paint. Sophomores Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald carried the Colonials offense, scoring 20 of GW’s 27 first half points, with Larsen leading the team with 12.

The Saint Louis defense, which entered the game as the ninth-best scoring defense in the nation, held GW to 35 percent shooting in the first half. Throughout the half, the Billikens backcourt swarmed GW ball handlers, forcing nine first-half turnovers off five steals, and often times made it difficult for the Colonials to even pass the ball.

“It was just tough to get any wing entries,” McDonald said. “We had to do a lot of high ball screens with me and Kevin because you know, we couldn’t get it in from the wing so we just had to improvise a little bit.”

After a painfully slow first half, the men’s basketball team had a chance to go into the half with momentum and cut a Saint Louis lead, that was as large as 11, down to single digits in the final seconds.

An errant pass by SLU’s Jake Barnett led to a steal at midcourt by sophomore Kevin Larsen. After pushing the ball up the floor, GW found senior Nemanja Mikic in the corner for an uncontested three.

A miss by Mikic and a rebound by junior John Kopriva would lead to a second-chance opportunity for the Colonials as Kopriva looked for Mikic who stood unguarded. But a misdirected pass and turnover by Kopriva would lead to a Billikens dunk on the other end as the clock expired.

The Colonials’ first-half efforts were stunted by foul trouble from two of the team’s season leaders: senior Isaiah Armwood and graduate student Maurice Creek. Armwood would be limited to just 12 first half minutes while Creek would play just 10.

By the end of the half, between Garino, Creek, and Armwood go a combined 1-for-6 from the field.

“Honestly, Patricio and Mo Creek couldn’t even get open,” Lonergan said. “Mo, they played physical with him, and he couldn’t get the ball, he really struggled.”

Creek and Armwood would log heavier minutes in the second half of play, but both would struggle offensively. Armwood would finish with six points on 2-for-7 shooting and 11 rebounds. Creek, who wouldn’t score his first field goal until 13:50 left in the second half, would finish with five points on 2-for-12 shooting. Creek would miss all five of his three-point attempts.

On the offensive end, Saint Louis was able to break GW’s 1-3-1 zone defense with ball movement, converting 16 field goals on 10 first half assists. The Billikens shot 55 percent, led by 10 first-half points from senior Jordair Jett, and would end the half with a 12 point lead.

At the half, Lonergan told his 20-win team to start playing like an NCAA Tournament contender.

“At halftime, I just said we’re not playing with enough energy. I said, ‘Hey you want to come here and compete, we’re on TV, this is a big game for us,’” he said. “I said I just want to play hard, I didn’t think we played real hard.”

GW would respond, coming out aggressive in the second half and slowly chipping away at the SLU lead while tightening up on the defensive end. The offensive charge was led by McDonald and sophomore Patricio Garino.

After being affected by the SLU pressure in the first half, McDonald adjusted and was able to run set plays for the offense while finding his own shot. McDonald would finish with 13 second-half points, six of those points coming from beyond the arc.

After attempting just a single shot in the first half Garino went 3-for-5 in the second and finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Defensively, the Colonials outrebounded the Billikens 26-17 after being outrebounded in the first half by three.

In the span of just under 11 minutes, GW would erase a 14-point Saint Louis lead. But like most of the game, Saint Louis would regain composure, and take an 8-0 run to extend their lead, something that Billikens’ head coach Jim Crews credits to his team’s ability to regain the rebound battle.

But the big GW run would come at a price. Lonergan said that he believed the 11-minute span knocked the energy out of his starting five. He added that without a productive bench, forced him to leave the starters in for extended minutes.

SLU would keep GW in the game due to lackluster free throw shooting, shooting 9-15 from the line. The Colonials would come as close as three points, but multiple missed three-point looks by McDonald and Garino down the stretch would seal the victory for the Billikens.

“I thought maybe we lost our composure, but Patricio came down and just shot like a 30 footer,” Lonergan said.

Lonergan had one timeout remaining in the game but opted not to use it, saying after the game that he tried to have Garino go off a screen but says the sophomore’s inexperience and quick shot may have led to the quick shot.

GW returns to the Smith Center next Sunday where they will host George Mason at 1 p.m.

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Then-freshman forward Kevin Larsen battles a tough Saint Louis defense at the Smith Center last year. Hatchet File Photo by  Cameron Lancaster

Then-freshman forward Kevin Larsen battles a tough Saint Louis defense at the Smith Center last year. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster

Who: No. 10 Saint Louis University (24-2, 11-0)

When: Saturday 8 p.m.

Where: Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis

Even if GW can tune out a raucous crowd and get past Saint Louis’ conference-leading defense , the Colonials will have an even greater obstacle Saturday: the Billikens’ experience and poise late in the game.

Saint Louis starts five seniors who have helped the team to win close games in conference play. The Billikens enter Saturday’s matchup as winners of 18 straight games, with their most recent victory coming in overtime against George Mason Wednesday.

Out of the team’s 11 conference wins, two games have been won in overtime, and five games have been decided by four points or less. Their only two losses this season have come against No. 16 Wisconsin and No. 3 Wichita State.

“It shows me what a team that starts five seniors can be,” GW head coach Mike Lonergan said during a practice Thursday. “They don’t get flustered and they find ways to win, and that’s what makes them a great team.”

The Billikens average 71.3 points per game and shoot the ball at 44.4 percent. SLU boasts three players who average double figures in scoring, led by senior Dwayne Evans who ranks 13th in the conference at 14.7 points per game. The Billikens best all-around offensive player however is senior guard Jordair Jett. Jett has great ability to get to the basket and draw defenses. He averages 13.7 points per game, and ranks second in the conference in assists at five per game.

As a team, the Billikens average 14.5 assists and turn the ball over 12.1 times per game, which yields the second best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league.

Senior forward Rob Loe will also give the Colonials fits, especially in the frontcourt, Lonergan said.

Loe, who stands at 6-foot-11, is a surprisingly strong perimeter scorer and can pass the ball well. In his last five games, Loe has averaged 14.2 points while shooting 12-for-25 from beyond the arc.

“Loe’s been doing a good job of hitting three’s lately, and really creates matchup problems,” Lonergan said. “[Larsen is] going to have to do a good job of making sure he gets out on him.”

The Billikens outscore their opponents by an average of 11.5 points per game, which ranks first in the conference. But their offense shouldn’t get all the credit.

They rank first in the conference and 12th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 59.9 points per game. Opponents shoot 39.4 percent from the field against the Billikens and 26.7 percent from beyond the arc. SLU forces 14.7 turnovers a game, many coming in the form of steals. The Billikens only trail VCU at 7.8 steals per game, with four players recording at least 25 steals so far this season.

“Their defense is what has my attention really,” Lonergan said. “They just do such a good job of denying things and taking you out of your offense.”

GW will have to play at their best if they plan on handing Saint Louis just its second home loss of the season, but the Colonials have some momentum entering Saturday’s game after a big road win at Richmond Tuesday.

“I’m telling them we had a nice road win at Richmond and now we have an opportunity to play a top 10 team in their building,” Lonergan said. “We’ve got nothing to lose but we’ve got to go in there and make sure that we’re confident, that we play loose, and win or lose this is only one game in our season.”

GW continues to be led by the scoring of graduate student Maurice Creek, who in the past four games is averaging 16 points. After successfully using Creek off the bench in Tuesday’s game, Lonergan said that he is unsure of his gameplan for Saturday’s matchup.

The Colonials will also look for another strong performance from sophomore guard Joe McDonald. McDonald logged heavy minutes against the Spiders, finishing with 14 points and five rebounds. Against a stingy Billikens defense, GW will look to McDonald to handle the ball and organize offensive sets. Lonegran did mention that he will need the rest of his backcourt to step up and help McDonald.

“We need to stay loose and have fun,” forward Isaiah Armwood said. “We think we can beat them. They’re a good team but we’re a good team as well.”

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Monday, Feb. 10, 2014 9:53 a.m.

Atlantic 10 weekly wrap-up

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Mark Eisenhauer.

Saint Joseph’s upsets VCU

Despite entering Saturday’s game with a 15-7 overall record and a 5-3 conference record, the Hawks were considered no contest for a powerhouse VCU team. Winning 11 of their last 12, VCU received 44 votes in the AP poll last week and looked poised to break the top 25 in the coming weeks. But, the road hurt the Rams once again as they fell to St. Joe’s 69-62. Senior guard Langston Galloway led the Hawks with an impressive 24 points, while freshman Deandre Bembry added 18. The St. Joe’s defense held VCU’s top scorer, Juvonte Reddic, to only 17 points. The loss puts VCU in third place in the A-10, behind GW (who currently holds the tiebreaker), and heightens the importance of Wednesday’s meeting between the Rams and Colonials.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Mason gets first conference win, No. 13 Saint Louis continues domination

\George Mason won its first conference game Saturday against Duquesne, 74-68 in Pittsburgh. Senior guard Sherrod Wright scored 23 points to help the Patriots break a nine-game losing streak. Although still in last place, this is a step in the right direction for a struggling Mason squad.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Saint Louis continued its conference domination, taking down Saint Joe’s 65-49 Wednesday and La Salle 65-63 Saturday. After breezing by Saint Joe’s, the Bilikens faced
more of a challenge at La Salle, but senior guard Jordair Jett ensured the victory with 25 points, including the game-winning basket. Saint Louis remains undefeated and keeps its school-record 16-game win streak alive. They will host the Colonials next Saturday, Feb. 22.

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Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014 11:32 p.m.

A-10 men’s basketball wrap-up

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Mark Eisenhauer.

Here’s a look back at the week’s biggest highlights in Atlantic 10 men’s basketball:

Mighty Minutemen fall, twice

No. 21 UMass was upset in both of its conference matchups this week, being defeated by both Saint Bonaventure and Saint Joseph’s.

After being handed their first loss in over a month by the Richmond Spiders last week, the Minutemen seemed to return to form by crushing Fordham by 38 just a few days later.

But just as it looked like they were bouncing back, the rest of the A-10 had other ideas. Holding UMass star guard Chaz Williams to only 11 points and forcing 17 turnovers, the Bonnies took down the Minutemen 78-65. The loss seemed to stick in their head as the Hawks jumped out to a 16-point lead Saturday. But after making five clutch fouls shots in the last thirty seconds, Saint Joseph’s would hold on for the win.

This subpar week has brought UMass to a 4-3 conference record – dropping them to fifth in the A-10 rankings and likely out of the Top 25 completely. if they truly want to be contenders this year, a quick return to form is more than necessary.

George Mason nearly upsets St. Louis

Entering Saturday’s game with a 7-13 overall record and not a single conference win, GMU seemed to pose almost no threat to a powerhouse No. 19 Saint Louis team. Even more, the Bilikens were undefeated at home in conference play and had accrued an impressive 19-2 overall record.

But much to the chagrin of fans at Chaifetz Arena, the Patriots gave the home team a run for its money. GMU led the game by seven on three separate occasions and with 4:12 to play held a five-point lead. After some tense final minutes, Saint Louis hit a three with 44 seconds left to grab momentum and send the game to overtime.

The Bilikens would pull away in the extra period to win their 14th straight game – tying a school record – while the Patriots would fall to 0-7 in conference play. Not even Bryon Allen’s career-high 30 points could help this struggling Mason team, who will not likely get out of the A-10 basement anytime soon.

VCU wreaks Havoc

After being defeated by the Colonials on Jan. 14th, the Rams responded in a big way, winning five straight to re-solidify themselves as a powerful contender in the A-10. Now 6-1 in conference play and 18-4 overall, VCU holds a commanding second-place standing in the A-10, as well as a No. 28 ranking in the RPI and BPI.

This week, they took down both Fordham and local-rival Richmond with relative ease. Despite allowing a staggering 31 points to Richmond’s Kendall Anthony, head coach Shaka Smart has his “Havoc” defense back on track. Senior Juvonte Reddic and junior Treveon Graham make VCU a serious contender in both the A-10 and the NCAA tournament if they were to get a bid. Keep VCU on your radar in the coming weeks, as some AP Poll votes are definitely headed their way.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

WHO: GW (11-4, 2-0) vs. Saint Louis (5-9, 0-1)
WHEN: Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Smith Center

Case for Saint Louis:

Following their 74-52 loss to Fordham to start conference play, the Billikens were unable to fly back home for their game against Atlantic 10 giant Dayton, due to the snow storm. Instead of potentially losing at home and starting A-10 play 0-2, the very young team spent team bonding time in New York City.

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis talks strategy with his team during a timeout last season. Hatchet File Photo

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis talks strategy with his team during a timeout last season. Hatchet File Photo

Come Wednesday, it will have been almost a week since they last played, and a hungry Saint Louis team could grab the early game lead against a GW team that is riding a seven-game winning streak.

Saint Louis averages a subpar 62.6 points per game, but they only allow their opponents shoot 38 percent from the field on their way to 64.9 points per game. This will be a change of pace for GW, who likes to play in fast-paced, high scoring games.

Freshman forward Erin Nelson leads the team with 14.5 points per game, redshirt junior Desirae Ball – the most veteran player of the five starters – averages 13.1 points per contest.

GW freshman Caira Washington will have her hands full as she takes on fellow freshman center, 6-foot-3 Saddie Stipanoovich. She is averaging 8.3 points per game and 7.5 rebounds a game. Washington has been in constant double-double territory as of late, but the extra energy on defense to guard Stipanoovich could cause problems on the offensive end.

Case for GW:

After a statement win on the road against Saint Joe’s, the Colonials will return home – where they have suffered just one loss this year – and likely be able to defend their court with ease.

This game could see the return of the team’s leading scorer, graduate student Megan Nipe, but even if she only sees limited minutes off the bench, GW should be fine with three other players who average in double figures.

In sophomore Jonquel Jones’ first five games, she is averaging a double-double with 12.6 points per game and 10.6 rebounds, including a career 21 point, 14 rebound performance against Saint Joe’s. Meanwhile, graduate student Danni Jackson has found a way to score night in and night out, averaging 12.3 points per game along with 5.1 assists. With eight dimes against Saint Joe’s, Jackson now has 432 career assists, moving her past Lindsey Davidson (’03) for fifth all time at GW.

The Colonials beat Saint Louis last year in their final contest of the regular season to secure their eight-seed in the A-10 conference tournament. In the game, Nipe dropped 20 points and Jackson finished with 17 – and that was against a much more veteran Billikens team.

On defense, GW forces an average of 22.1 turnovers per game, leading to a 22nd best turnover margin in the nation (5.20). With Saint Louis already averaging 15.8 turnovers a game, look to see the Colonials bring out their 1-3-1 or 1-2-2 pressure to create easy baskets off turnovers. The team’s confidence should be near a season-high leading to a likely A-10 win against a middle-of-the-pack of Saint Louis team.

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Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 2:57 a.m.

Men’s soccer defender grabs weekly honor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Nora Princiotti.

The exclamation point on men’s soccer’s successful weekend came Monday when freshman defender Tobi Adewole was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week.

Adewole played 110 minutes of shut-down defense against No. 19 Dayton, the highest scoring team in the country, en route to a 0-0 draw. He added 85 minutes against defending A-10 champion Saint Louis on Sunday, also recording two shots in the 1-1 tie.

That ability to contribute on offense could be the most valuable part of Adewole’s defense for the Colonials. Head coach Craig Jones has said that the team needs to improve its play in transition more than any other area of the game, and the rookie is showing progress that bodes well for the team.

Adewole’s collective 195 minutes over the weekend led all freshman on the squad and were good for third overall. His ROTW award is the first for a GW rookie since 2009 when Seth Rudolph was awarded for his late October play.

The Colonials defense started the season battling inconsistencies, but Adewole, along with the rest of the backline, will look to show that they are the real deal against A-10 rival Fordham (3-7-1) on Sunday.

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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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