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Saturday, March 9, 2013 3:46 p.m.

Colonials season ended at hands of top-seeded Dayton

Senior guard Danni Jackson maneuvers down the court against St. Bonaventure. Hatchet File Photo by Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

There would be no upset special today.

Instead, it would merely be the final game of the Colonials’ 2012-13 campaign.  The final game in head coach Jonathan Tsipis’ first year at the helm.  And the final culmination of strong careers from graduate students Tara Booker and Sara Mostafa.

It was a game in which GW was simply outmatched by the No.1 seeded and nationally ranked No. 11 Flyers, as Dayton won by a final score of 74-49.

“I think the thing that they are so good at is that they can hurt you in so many ways- in transition, posting under the rim, the shooters on the three point line,” Tsipis said.  “And the thing that they do really well is that they’re unselfish- they’re gonna find the open person.”

Dayton, known for their high-paced transition offense, immediately began to run the floor and never stopped.  As one Flyer grabbed the rebound, the rest streaked down the court waiting for the quick outlet pass and good look at the basket.

The Colonials just couldn’t get back fast enough.  There was no time to set up into their defense as within one or two Dayton passes, the ball was already inside and ready to be put up.  The Flyers ended the day with 32 points in the paint and 16 assists, indicative of their very efficient offense.

“I think in the first half, in the first six or seven minutes, we did a good job at least stopping the ball and getting people matched up,” Tsipis said. “Sometimes it wasn’t necessarily who we wanted on different people, but I think the deeper we got into the first half, we started getting a little out of our game plan.”

As GW defenders consistently got caught on screens, Dayton shooters were left wide open to throw one up.  They finished the day shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from behind the arc.

Leading the way for Dayton were guards Andrea Hoover and Samantha Mackay, who scored 12 and 15 points respectively on a combined 11-19 shooting, 4-5 from three-point range.

As the Colonials finally began stepping out on shooters, the Flyers’ offense adjusted.  One simple pump fake and the Dayton players, all able to create shots for themselves, did just that.

GW, not wanting to play into Dayton’s style of play, was forced to try and slow down the pace of the game.  But just as the Flyers were active on offense, so too, were they on defense.

“I think you need to be able to attack them off the dribble,” Tsipis said.  “I think you need to be able to get in the paint and then make good decisions, and I think we did get it in the paint, we got some post feeds, and everything.”

The second a Colonials’ guard crossed mid-court, Dayton defenders came up to hound them and set a trap.  GW was flustered, and despite working extremely hard to do so, was unable to consistently work the ball inside.

The Colonials were forced into overhead skip passes and outside jumpers that for the most part, weren’t falling.  Even more frequent- a Flyer steal.  Dayton ended the day with 12 steals, to go along with its 11 blocks and 23 total turnovers forced.

“I think it sped us up,” Tsipis said.  “I think it wasn’t necessarily the person getting trapped, I think when we got the ball out of the trap, they did a really good job on their rotation forcing us to play faster than we wanted to.”

It just wasn’t in the books for the Colonials today.

Even in the second half, when one might expect the Flyers’ offense to run out of steam, they kept churning.  Dayton was able to showcase its deep roster, cycling in younger, fresher players and get the same result on the court.  On the day, the Flyers recorded 29 bench points, led by guard Kelley Austria, who put up 13 points from off the bench.

In her final game as a Colonial, Booker led the team with 12 points and eight rebounds.  Senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp again proved a physical presence on the floor, scoring 11 points and adding seven boards.

Despite the quarterfinal loss, the 14 overall wins put together by Tsipis’ first year team are the most for GW since 2009.

“I don’t have any regrets,” Tsipis said.  “I think it’s a team that has bought into what we want to do.  And I think we have a good work ethic and I think they have a really strong will to get better as individuals and then understand that to be able to get better as a team you have to take sacrifices”

 

 

 

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Center Sara Mostafa shoots the ball over a Saint Louis defender Sunday at the Smith Center. Becky Crowder | Senior Staff Photographer

With the first half coming to a close, and only a two second differential between shot and game clock, senior guard Danni Jackson lost the handle on the ball, quickly recovered and fired up an unorthodox desperation three.  It banked in.

With a 19-point lead, that’s just how the game was going for the Colonials. But they soon learned how quickly a double-digit lead can start to dwindle away.

Trying to avoid another second-half breakdown like Wednesday’s game against Xavier, head coach Jonathan Tsipis called for the energy and urgency that the team had opened Senior Day with.

“We had stopped even putting our hands up, we had dropped them,” Tsipis said.  “And it was time for us to take some punches.”

In the end, some strong leadership from the very seniors being honored on the final game of the regular season allowed GW to weather the storm and capture the victory, 68-55.

When the game opened, GW looked ready for the start of playoff basketball, running and executing on both ends of the court.

The Colonials were patient on offense, continually moving and sending crisp passes until a crack in Saint Louis’ defense was revealed.  On defense, they turned up the intensity.

Playing much of the first half in a full court press, GW hounded the Billikens’ ball handlers, grabbed five steals, and immediately went into transition mode, where they scored 13 points off turnovers.

“We just came out with the mindset that we were gonna really control the glass and get out in transition,” Tsipis said.

Megan Nipe was – literally – perfect in the first half, scoring 16 points off of 7-7 shooting.  Whether lurking along the perimeter or driving off a screen, Nipe couldn’t help but find the bottom of the net.

“I just think my teammates did a great job of getting me open and when I was open getting me the ball,” Nipe said.  “Obviously when you make a couple your confidence goes up, so for the first half it went up and it didn’t go down the rest of the game.”

Following Nipe’s lead, the rest of the offense was just as in sync, shooting 63 percent from the field in the first.  Though they didn’t necessarily have a size advantage inside, the Colonials were still aggressive in the paint, outrebounding the Billikens 22-13 and outscoring them 20-4 in the paint for the first half.

As the second half got underway, it appeared as though the Colonials had become a bit too comfortable with their large first-half lead.  The offense began running at a slower pace, and the guards consistently settled for long jumpers early in the possession.

“I think the things we got away from were [that] we didn’t rebound the ball well and we didn’t attack in transition or off the ball screen,” Tsipis said.  “We got too complacent to run the offense and that gave them a little more momentum.”

Making matters worse, shots began to fall for the Billikens.

Saint Louis quickly went on a 10-0 run, and the 19-point lead was now down to 10. Tsipis went back to the full court press to put an end to the storm, but GW still couldn’t get the offensive spark back, and the lead was cut to just seven.

Looking for anything to get momentum back on the Colonials’ side, fifth-year graduate forward Sara Mostafa stepped up to the challenge.  Mostafa scored on three straight GW possessions, and drew two “and-one” opportunities in the process.

GW was now back on the attack, driving the lane to get some easy buckets and preventing the Billikens from going on another run to close out the game.  Senior Day would end the way they had planned.

Nipe finished with a career-high 20 points on 9-14 shooting.  Mostafa finished her regular season career with 13 points and eight rebounds, getting help from another inside presence, senior Shi-Heria Shipp, who scored 10 points and had nine boards.  Jackson was the fourth Colonial in double-figures, scoring 17 points, with six rebounds and four assists also on her stat sheet.

Nipe, Jackson and Shipp intend to petition for a fifth year of eligibility, looking to stay with the Colonials for one more season.

The barrage of scoring shows the many options that Tsipis will have heading into the playoffs.  Nipe may have been the hot hand tonight, but high scoring games from multiple Colonials this season prove that any one of them can burst out.

GW came into the game tied for seventh in conference standings, and with the win, may keep that seeding for the A-10 Championship, though final seeding will be determined by the rest of the league’s results.

“It’s been a season of a lot of firsts, obviously my first season, an opportunity for us to get the most wins in conference in the last four years, and the most overall wins,” Tsipis said. “And now it leads to another season of firsts, that we want to go and get that first A-10 win.”

 

 

 

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Senior guard Danni Jackson drives down the court Sunday afternoon. Sam Klein | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Brennan Murray.

Over the course of the season, the Colonials have gotten accustomed to grinding out close games, to earning victories the hard way, by sacrificing style for true grit, and comfortable wins for hard-fought thrillers.

But if the court was a canvas on Sunday, GW painted it with untraditional ease. The starters gelled in a way they haven’t all season and the bench provided a crucial backdrop on which the team could rely on in a moment’s notice.

Perhaps more than anything, the Colonials’ inaugural (11-12, 5-4) trouncing of Butler in the Smith Center showed that head coach Jonathan Tsipis’s players are beginning to understand their roles on floor. And as Tsipis noted, as players begin to fulfill their responsibilities, they learn to play an unselfish brand of basketball – the brand Tsipis prefers.

“I think that was our most complete game of the season,” Tsipis said. “And the stat I’m probably most proud of is how we shared the basketball today. That’s 23 assists on 30 made field goals.”

After coming off of two straight wins against La Salle and Richmond, the Colonials looked to extend their conference success against the Bulldogs before they head to take on Fordham this Wednesday. With confident shooting, dominant rebounding, and its typical tenacity on both sides of the ball, GW ran away with a 17-point lead, garnering a painless 77-60 win.

On Butler’s first possession, sophomore guard Chakecia Miller wasted no time introducing herself to the Bulldogs’ point guard. Ripping away a steal in their backcourt, Miller dribbled twice and dropped in an effortless layup. And then, on the very next possession, she corralled a loose ball and flung it up court, setting up another easy Colonials’ bucket.

Miller, whose efforts on Sunday justified her role as GW’s turnover-causing machine, also shot well from the floor, hitting seven of 13 field goals and finishing with a game-high 18 points.

“I’m just trying to take on the personality of my coach. He’s really aggressive and I want to be really aggressive and competitive as well,” Miller said. “So when I’m out there, if I see the ball I’m gonna get it.”

Nineteen total turnovers aside, GW established a balanced offensive attack in the first half that gradually picked up speed as time elapsed. After some passing miscues and resulting Butler baskets on the other end, the Colonials settled down about ten minutes in. Booker and freshman guard Aaliyah Brown drained consecutive threes, giving GW an energy boost that lifted it to a six-point lead at halftime.

After only a few second-half possessions, the Colonials’ starters – and bench players alike – molded into a cohesive unit on the floor. GW improved on its 36.1 percent first-half field goal percentage by draining nine of its first 10 field goals in the second, ending the game with a 65.4 percent tally compared to Butler’s 38.5 percent mark over the same period of time.

“I’m so excited for the team,” Tsipis said. “I’m going to show a lot of emotion on the sideline and I want them to play with that passion and that vigor.”

As the Colonials’ lead grew, from 11, then to 16, and eventually to 17 by the final horn, Butler’s confidence took a visible hit, symbolized not only by disapproving head shakes from its coaching staff, but also from the Bulldogs’ resorting to three-point shots and a full-court press before the second half even reached its midpoint. Getting stronger on both sides of the ball, the Colonials broke the Bulldogs’ press, poured on points in style, and eventually earned the win.

Along with Miller, graduate student forward Tara Booker, senior guard Danni Jackson, and graduate student center Sara Mostafa all finished in double figures, tallying 16, 10, and 12 points, respectively. Booker added ten rebounds as well, earning her a double-double.

“We had a good fight last game and I feel like we were just focused on coming out and not only maintaining that effort, but building on it,” Miller said. “Everybody was just really focused and locked in.”

Tsipis, who grew more and more animated as his team’s lead grew in the latter part of the second half, was impressed with his team’s execution. He sees the potential his team has, and hopes to gain some separation from the rest of the conference field as February rolls forward.

But the coach also knows that there are still many issues that need to be addressed, namely  turnovers and consistency.

“We’re sticking to our goal. We’re getting better each practice and each game,” Tsipis said. “But as far as us improving, we’ve got to be consistent with it. We can’t rebound today and then go to Fordham on Wednesday and not have that same kind of fight.”

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Sophomore forward Chakecia Miller leaps to the net Wednesday night. Sam Klein | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Sophia Omuenu.

With two seconds left in play, sophomore guard Chakecia Miller drained a layup off an assist from senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp, solidifying the Colonials’ three-point win over the Richmond Spiders.The last 24 seconds of the game consisted of aggressive defense between Miller and Shipp that pushed GW to victory. After leaping to gather her fourth rebound of the game, Shipp passed the ball down to Miller, who forced her way into the paint in order to give GW a one-point lead. Soon after, Miller stole the ball to drive home the final tally.

Thanks in part to the team’s aggressive play until the final seconds, GW walked away with a 57-54 victory over Richmond.

“When we went into the locker room [at halftime], [head]coach [Jonathan Tsipis] said that we have to find a way sometimes,” Miller said. “And I think we did that.”

GW (10-12, 4-4) started the game with strong transition play and equally challenging offensive game. But both teams played an aggressive man-to-man defense, which ultimately led to 11 lead changes.

Within the first four minutes, the Colonials attacked the Spiders with a half-court press that included traps whenever possible. A Miller dish to freshman Alexis Chandler, who ended the game with five points, made the score 14-11 with 11 minutes left in the half.

Richmond replied with a half-court press during the Colonials’ next offensive possession but GW was able to maintain their composure.

“With the timeouts we just had to re-group, calm down and just think about what we were doing down there,” Miller said. “We just can’t get too amped up during the game because your adrenaline is running.”

At the end of the first half, the Colonials were up by five points, 32-27, due to senior forward Megan Nipe’s closing three-pointer.

Richmond, however, entered the second half with a renewed intensity and went on an 8-0 run until Nipe broke their momentum with a quick jumper.

“I think [Richmond head] coach [Michael] Shafer had his team ready coming out of the locker room to start the second half with just a higher intensity than we had,” Tsipis said. “We kind of went back and forth.”

Graduate student forward Tara Booker helped the Colonials slowly come back from a six point deficit with two made free throws and a quick jumper off of fellow graduate student forward Sara Mostafa’s offensive rebound.

Booker ended the game with six points and 10 rebounds, while Mostafa contributed four points and four rebounds.

“I think the thing I’m most proud of is the way the team battled. We had to get the rebounds off of the missed free throws. We had to push the ball up the floor,” Tsipis said.

As both teams battled back and forth, the Colonials were one point from tying the game with 52 seconds left. After missed free throws from the Spiders, GW capitalized on the additional opportunities to execute plays.

The final series of plays between Miller and Shipp were not drawn up by Tsipis, but ultimately led the team to an exciting victory. It was an example of his team “finding a way to win,” and the head coach was quick to note that, overall, the win was a teamwide effort. Nipe contributed a total of 12 points while senior Danni Jackson added six.

“You don’t get style points in basketball,” Tsipis said. “You get wins and losses.”

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Senior guard Danni Jackson charges down the court against Duquesne. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster | Hatchet Photographer

It was a three point game when graduate student forward Tara Booker released her three-point shot.

It sunk into the basket, putting the Colonials up by six. 20 seconds later, she drilled another. GW was now up by nine, a crucial widening of its lead in a game that had been a tight contest throughout.

Booker’s two treys sparked a massive scoring run for the rest of her team, providing momentum for GW to decisively close out a 74-57 victory over La Salle. They were two important baskets, and they were examples of exactly the type of role head coach Jonathan Tsipis expects from his upperclassmen.

“We did a good job finding her in the first one and we were able to come right back,” Tsipis said. “It gave us life. It allowed us to be more aggressive in transition.”

From the outset, it was clear that the game could be a defensive battle, neither team able to control the ball well out of the gates. GW had 17 turnovers over play, while La Salle had 15. The game stayed tight through most of the first half. The Explorers switched between different zones to try to confuse the Colonials and halt their shooting.

Still GW was able to take a small four point lead heading into halftime. The advantage came off the strength of 41.7 percent shooting, and the team finding a mis-match down low with senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp, who was able to put away a number of baskets for the Colonials.

“She got us going. She got us that lead toward the end of the half,” Tsipis said. “It was just a matter of closing possessions with our rebounding.”

Though play was tight to open the second half, off the strength of Booker’s back-to-back treys GW widened its lead with a significant scoring run, finally firing on all offensive cylinders. The Colonials shot 51.4 percent over the second half, including 80 percent from behind the arc.

The team had a balanced scoring attack, with five players in double digits. Booker led the way with 13 points and seven boards, while graduate student forward Sara Mostafa posted a double-double with 11 points and 12 boards. Shipp finished with 12 points, while senior guard Danni Jackson and sophomore guard Chackecia Miller had 11 each

“I think that makes us much more dangerous,” Tsipis said. “It’s hard to game plan against multiple scorers.”

Defensively, GW tried to control La Salle’s ability to get out in transition, setting traps in transition that slowed the Explorers’ ball movement.

The Colonials opened the game in a man-to-man defense, but seemed to struggle with some of their matchups, leaving La Salle shooters open. Switching into a 2-3 zone, the team seemed more comfortable, challenging their opponents with greater ease. With leading Explorer scorer Brittney Wilson sidelined, La Salle turned to Ebony Jones. But Jones found herself in foul trouble, limiting her play.

“We had talked about playing a bit more zone just because, overall, they were a team that relied more on jumpers. In that aspect we felt like the zone would help us keep the ball in front better,” Tsipis said. “I just thought our activity level in the zone was really good.”

The Colonials didn’t relent on their pressure throughout the game, holding the Explorers to 32.8 percent shooting. Earning a slim 41-37 rebounding edge, GW tightly controlled the paint, picking up a 40-22 scoring edge. The Colonial bench also far outperformed La Salle’s, scoring 18 points while the Explorers had zero contributions aside from its starting five.

The victory was an important one for a GW squad that suffered a crushing double overtime loss against Duquesne. Defeating La Salle was a win that revitalized the Colonials’ energy, giving them more momentum as they head into the last month of Atlantic 10 play.

“It’s huge. You’re definitely worried about that ‘we should have won the game [feeling].’ It was just fun because we came out, we didn’t play great but I didn’t feel like we put our heads down,” Tsipis said. “And you hope, when you go through a close game like that, sometimes the best thing to do is get back out. I wanted to get back out and play Thursday.”

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Senior guard Danni Jackson charges down the court against Duquesne. Cameron Lancaster | Hatchet Photographer

What does double overtime against a team tied for first place in the conference, undefeated in league play, say?

It spells tenacity. And fight. And heart, three qualities head coach Jonathan Tsipis definitely thinks his team has.

That’s why, even though the Colonials ultimately fell 63-59 in double overtime to Duquesne, Tsipis immediately emphasized the pride he has in his team during his postgame press conference.

“I thought our kids had an unbelievable will, to fight, and did a great job getting the lead in the second half,” Tsipis said. “We fought. And that’s what I’m most proud of in our team. We challenged them at halftime to come out and throw that first punch, and I think we threw some good combinations and got out, and got in our transition game.”

Still, dropping a double overtime contest was a heartbreaking turn of events for the Colonials (8-12, 2-4 A-10). It was a loss born a bit of fatigue, and a bit of Duquesne doing more to close the game out, Tsipis said.

“We were struggling to score, and we felt like we couldn’t rely on jumpers,” Tsipis said. “I think the difference, from that point, was their activity level was better, and when they broke us down defensively, somebody had a wide open shot.”

After a slow start early in the game, the Colonials revamped their approach, boxing out with greater energy and fighting harder to hold ground against the Dukes.

The team would go on an 8-0 run to stop Duquesne’s dominance, exiting the half with an advantage on the boards and the game tied at 24.

In the second, the Colonials opened with a quick run that gave them the lead, continuing to crack down on the Dukes’ chances. The team shot 33 percent overall on the game, and its true offensive success came when it cracked down on the glass and got out in transition, its head coach said.

“Then, I think , it makes the basket bigger, and you start running your half court sets, and everything like that,” Tsipis said.

The team’s attack was led by Mostafa and Jackson, who each tallied 17 points. Mostafa added nine rebounds, and Jackson supplemented her points total with three assists. Booker added five points and 13 boards, controlling the glass for the Colonials. The offense felt like it was clicking best when the whole team pushed its attack together, the two said.

“We were able to run the plays properly, I got open a few times from my teammates setting good screens,” Mostafa said. “That’s just something that we always stress. Setting good screens, hitting someone to get your teammate open, and hitting the boards.”

The team was able to keep within distance of the Dukes despite 25 turnovers, tying its second-highest total of the season and giving Duquesne the chance to turn them into 27 points.

“Besides a number, it’s a matter of a confidence level,” Tsipis said. “I didn’t feel like in either of the overtimes that played a factor, but it definitely did when they made their run. We were forced to have to score just in the half court.”

Despite a GW crackdown on the Duquesne offensive front, the Dukes weren’t the kind of team to go quietly. Even when faced with GW’s revamped pressure, they continued to battle, going on a 16-2 run to regain the lead with six minutes left. Regulation ultimately ended in a tie at 48, the game heading into two overtime periods before Duquense walked away with a narrow victory.

Still, it was a performance with many highlights for the Colonials, including their defense. They particularly cracked down on the perimeter, holding the Dukes to 1-17 shooting from beyond the arc.

“I thought today we played really well on defense. I just think that sometimes, we miss some key things and details, what we know we should have done, we just missed them,” Jackson said. “They were just mental lapses.”

And though it was a game with many positives for the Colonials, the loss still stung as GW walked away from the Smith Center Wednesday afternoon.

“The thing that gave me confidence was seeing the good things that my teammates and I were doing,” Mostafa said. “I do feel confident moving forward, but this one just hurts really bad. Because it was right there.”

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Sophomore guard Chakecia Miller navigates around a Rhode Island opponent. Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Brennan Murray.

With nine minutes and 53 seconds remaining in the first half, graduate student center Sara Mostafa jumped up to the backboard and landed on the hardwood with her first offensive rebound.

Then, after missing a contested layup, Mostafa elevated again and corralled another board. Going up to the hoop one last time, Mostafa drew a foul, earning herself a trip to the line – the hard way.

Though not a flashy sequence, that snapshot from Sunday’s game against Rhode Island serves as an apt example of the Colonials’ relentless style of basketball. It’s a style that helped GW (8-11, 2-3 A-10) easily take down the Rams, 57-43, and one that may give it a chance to make up ground in the A-10 standings as the season gets hot.

After suffering a tough loss against Dayton on Thursday, head coach Jonathan Tsipis praised his team for responding with such an unselfish and energized performance against the Rams.

“I thought my team came out with great energy and really did a great job of rebounding the ball and pressuring the basketball defensively,” Tsipis said. “That led us to get in our transition game much more effectively, especially in the first 12 minutes of the first half. And then in the second half, it was the same thing.”

From the tip-off it seemed clear that the Colonials’ speedy play, especially in transition, would take a toll on the comparatively slower Rhode Island defense. Senior guard Shi-Heria Shipp, a player that Tsipis said brings a unique edge to the floor, looked poised to take control of the offensive attack from the start.

Finishing with 12 points on the day, Shipp was just one of the many rotating pieces in the GW lineup that contributed to the victory. Thanks in part to a smothering man-to-man defense that confused the Rams, and also because of a season-low 13 turnovers, GW established a fast-paced and deadly offensive run in the first half.

Though the Colonials shot only 36.4 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, 11 second chance points helped the cause, as did a growing reliance on Mostafa and graduate student Tara Booker, who took high percentage shots that helped GW tally 20 points in the paint by the end of the half. Mostafa ended the game with a total of nine points, and Booker compiled 12 of her own.

Referring to last Thursday’s Dayton game, Tsipis said his team learned a lot from the bad loss – and then showed off what they learned on the court.

“When you work on something that an opponent has done to you, it’s a little more eye-opening,” Tsipis said. “Off makes, off misses, we were able to push the ball, and again, now we have post players running and getting into good position where they can help contribute.”

Despite taking a couple of blows from the Rhode Island’s offense at the close of the first half, mostly strikes from three-point land, the Colonials returned to domination shortly after the second half began. Sophomore guard Chakecia Miller wreaked havoc on her Rhode Island counterparts, garnering steal after steal and finishing with an impressive ten takeaways by the final buzzer.

On the offensive end, GW roared forward with ease, opening with three consecutive buckets, the final one a product of a nifty dish underneath the hoop from senior guard Danni Jackson. Jackson, who has been struggling to find her own from the field this season, hit a three from the corner with just under four to play. It was a shot that not only brought the Colonials’ lead to 14, but also one that visibly sapped Rhode Island’s already dwindling energy levels.

Though the Rams found some open looks that technically kept them in the game, the depth of GW’s bench coupled with their aggressive transition offense proved far too difficult a task for Rhode Island to overcome. The Colonials never lost their lead in the second half and ultimately ran away with the win.

For the Colonials’ offense to have worked so effectively on Sunday, Tsipis and his players agreed they not only needed the starters ready to perform right out of the gates, but also for bench players, like Mostafa, to enter the game with seamless energy and focus.

“We’re always going hard for everything because coach [Tsipis] demands perfection. We strive for that everyday at practice so that’s how we’re able to carry it over to the game,” said Mostafa.

Booker added that, as one of the starters, it was a plus to know confidently that there would be no “drop off” in quality of play when bench players entered the game. Because of the effort from freshmen like guard Alexis Chandler, who routinely took over at the point guard position, the five players on the court were always able to pick up where the previous five left off.

With a growing offensive chemistry that manifested itself fully on Sunday, Tsipis has high hopes for the Colonials as they head into the final – and most significant – third of the season. But at the same time, he knows, there is still plenty of work to be done.

“We have to be able to execute better in the half court, whether it’s man or whether it’s zone,” Tsipis said. “Sometimes too, I think, we got a little content with keeping the ball on the perimeter.

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Senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp leaps en route to a lay-up. Hatchet File Photo by Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Jake Deitcher.


GW ended a its five-game losing streak Sunday by reversing a pattern, turning its season-long struggles on offense into an efficient and methodical attack. The Colonials (7-10, 1-2) defeated Atlantic 10 newcomer VCU 79-68, committing to attacking the heart of VCU’s 2-3 zone defense.

GW attempted only nine treys over the course of the game and they converted just one, but the Colonials shot an efficient 53 percent from the field overall. The balanced offensive attack produced five double figure scorers and forced the Rams into attempting 20 three-point shots in an effort to keep up with the Colonials’ offense.

“We got good looks against the zone and moved the ball into the middle of the floor,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “We did not settle with our shots, which was important in keeping up on offense.”

VCU could not key in on any particular GW player, because many were scoring proficiently.  Sophomore guard Chakecia Miller led GW with 20 points, converting six of seven shots and making  all eight of her free throw attempts. It was Miller’s second straight game of scoring 20 or more points. Graduate student Tara Booker, who added 19 points, supplemented Miller’s scoring efforts and graduate student Sara Mostafa posted a double-double after chipping in thirteen points and ten rebounds.

GW showed off the complete potential of its offense as the first half came to a close. The Colonials, down by four, were determined to avoid a sixth straight defeat. They closed the half on a 10-0 run to take a 42-36 lead into the break.

“We got good looks early and in the second half we kept up the effort and we did a good job,” Tsipis said. “We built confidence on offense and we kept attacking. With that mindset, the attack mentality that I’ve been proud of, we will continue to improve our offense.”

The team supplemented its shooting with a strong showing at the charity stripe, going 20-for-21 from the free throw line. Further supporting GW’s attack was a dominant defensive showing that gave it a 43-30 advantage on the boards and held the Rams to 33.8 percent shooting on the game.

The victory against VCU was the first A-10 win of the season for the Colonials and Tsipis’ first as a head coach. While Tsipis and his squad are glad to have snapped their five-game losing streak, they are more encouraged by the overall quality of play that led to the win on Sunday.

“Even better than breaking a losing streak is playing really well,” Booker said. “We executed on offense and we shared the ball well. Right now we are looking to be more consistent.”

Consistency will be key as the Colonials prepare for conference play. Tsipis is encouraged by his team’s victory against VCU- especially that the win came on the road. Four of the five games during GW’s five game losing streak were on the road and every victory away from the Smith Center will require maximum effort and focus.

GW will play another conference road game Thursday when they take on Dayton. Tsipis acknowledges that the Flyers are a tough opponent and will be a real test for his team, but he trusts his players.

“The losing was tough. But they have not stopped working hard in practice. To go on the road and to be able to come on the road and sustain a high level of play makes me proud,” Tsipis said. “They have done a good job of being accountable for their play and getting extra work in. They have taken a lot of responsibility upon themselves to improve and get better.”

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Graduate student forward Tara Booker releases a shot during the first half of a previous game this season. Hatchet File Photo by Ashley Lucas | Assistant Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Sophia Omuemu.

With 12 minutes left in the first half, senior guard Danni Jackson netted a trey to tie the game 14-14. But that would be the last time the Colonials came within striking distance of Saint Mary’s Gaels.

GW continued its four-game road swing against the Gaels Sunday in the programs’ first matchup since 2004. Coming off of a tough 70-43 loss to No. 8 California, GW took the court with hopes of obtaining its seventh win of the season.

Senior forward Megan Nipe started the Colonials off with a quick three-pointer within the first two minutes of the game while graduate student center Sara Mostafa made her defensive presence known early with a key defensive board. But though Mostafa would end the game with five total boards, it wasn’t enough to spark a commanding inside game for GW, bested 45-33 at the boards. That stalled the Colonials’ attack, ultimately contributing to the 79-49 loss.

“We need to continue to rebound the ball better. It allows us to get more and easier opportunities,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.

Both teams entered the game aggressively, and through the early moments of the first half, GW trailed the Gaels closely with the help of freshman forward Anjaleace White’s three back-to-back shots in the paint.

But the Colonials began to struggle on the defensive end once Jackson tied the game with 12 minutes left in the half. Saint Mary’s aggressively pushed the ball down the court, and was able to pull ahead with a 12-point lead with four minutes left in the first half.

“We were in a position where offensively, we weren’t being as aggressive as we needed to be, especially in transition,” Tsipis said. “We needed to take advantage of breaks and really attack using our ball screens.”

The Gaels attacked the Colonials’ strong man-to-man defense, ultimately leading to GW committing 10 fouls in the first half. It wasn’t his team’s best defensive effort this season, Tsipis allowed, but based on its past games, he’s confident it will recover quickly. And despite its struggles, GW closed the first half only eight points behind after senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp sunk two free throws.

Though the Colonials entered the second with renewed intensity, the Gaels matched that play. The two teams traded back-and-forth scoring before Saint Mary’s exploded out on a 15-0 run that sunk GW’s chances of further pulling ahead.

“When you’re down eight or nine, you can’t trade baskets for the whole half but I think when they went on a run, we weren’t really able to match,” Tsipis said.

Saint Mary ended the game with a 49.1 field goal percentage compared to GW’s 31.7 percent. The Gaels were also 40 percent from the arc, and used a second scoring run in the second half, 10-0, to further widen the lead.

“I felt like defensively that wasn’t our normal effort. I think we are a good defensive team and to give up 79 points and [have] them shoot that high of a percentage, not only from the field but from the three-point line is not like us,” Tsipis said.

Jackson and Shipp led the team with 13 points each, with Jackson adding five assists to pad the stat sheet. Nipe added six points and six rebounds, and graduate student forward Tara Booker chipped in four points and a team-high eight rebounds.

As the Colonials head to North Carolina A&T Jan. 6, Tsipis said that it will be key for his team to return to the solid defensive play it exhibited earlier in the season.

“We need to create more things in the half court and turn people over so we can get out in transition,” Tsipis said. “I think that’s how we’ll improve defensively and not rely on just jump shots to go down.”

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Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 9:56 a.m.

Colonials fall to No. 8 Cal

Senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp charges down the court earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo by Gabriella Demczuk | Senior Staff Photographer

GW’s inside game struggled against Cal Friday night, surrendering a 44-28 points in the paint advantage to the Golden Bears en route to the 70-43 loss.

Though the Colonials pushed to overcome the No. 8-ranked Cal throughout play, it was a 20-0 second-half scoring run that gave the Golden Bears a key edge in the game, using that advantage to decisively widen the gap. GW was left reeling, unable to answer Cal’s offensive push before the final buzzer.

Senior center Sara Mostafa hit back-to-back baskets early in the first to tie it at four, but that was the closest GW would come to catching the Golden Bears throughout the rest of the game. Cal used a 12-5 run midway through the first half to widen its lead, and though the Colonials were able to keep it close before the break, a series of well-timed free throws gave the Golden Bears a 39-22 lead at the half.

Out of the break, the Colonials doubled down on their defensive pressure, forcing Cal to miss eight of its nine first attempts from the floor and commit seven turnovers over the first six minutes of play – after just three total in the first half. GW was able to pull within 11 before the Golden Bears exploded on their 20-0 run, taking a game-high 31-point lead before senior forward Megan Nipe was able to put the Colonials back on the board with a layup of her own. But it was too late to answer Cal’s crippling run.

The Colonials finished with 31.6 percent shooting on the game, while Cal shot 47.4 percent. Both teams made only one three-point basket apiece, but the Golden Bears grabbed a 41-32 victory on the boards, ensuring their control of the paint. And though the number of turnovers were almost equal – GW with 19, Cal with 16 – the Golden Bears were able to capitalize more effectively, earning a 25-8 points off turnovers advantage.

Nipe and fellow senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp paced GW with nine points each, while senior guard Danni Jackson added seven points and dished out four assists.

The Colonials continue their California road swing Sunday, when they head to Saint Mary’s in Moraga, Calif., at 3 p.m.

 

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