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Tara Booker

Tara Booker Hatchet File Photo.

Former women’s basketball player Tara Booker is tied for 19th in all-time total points for the Colonials. Hatchet File Photo

Former women’s basketball star Tara Booker finished her freshman season of professional basketball overseas earlier this summer, with her first year out of college taking her from Luxembourg to Australia.

Booker began her pro career with Telstar Hesperange, a team in the upper tier of Luxembourg’s second division, just in time for the playoffs in January. During the playoffs, the strongest second-division teams take on teams ranked near the bottom of the first division with a chance to move up if they win.

In the final game necessary to advance, Booker led her team with 26 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks to beat Sparta Bertrange 58-49.

In the six games she played during the regular season, Booker averaged a team-best 17 points, 14 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.5 blocks.

Booker earned a master’s degree in organizational sciences from GW in 2013 after five years as a Colonial. She became the first player in team history to rack up 1,000 points, 700 rebounds, 100 blocks and 150 steals. She’s tied for 19th in all-time total points for the Colonials with 1,180 points.

With three days off from basketball each week while in Luxembourg, the Galloway, N.J. native used her spare time to explore the small country bordered by Belgium, Germany and France and other parts of Western Europe.

“Every weekend I could go to a different place. I went to Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, a couple different places in Germany,” Booker said in a release. “Basketball has truly blessed me with the opportunity to travel, explore, learn and meet some amazing people.”

After three months, Booker traveled to Australia, where she played for the semi-professional Bulleen Boomers in Melbourne for six weeks. She averaged 17.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks, and shot 55.8 percent from the floor over three games.

“The competition in Australia was great,” she said in the release. “We had an awesome point guard and a great big body [inside] that left me open to shoot.”

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

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Jake Deitcher.

The women’s basketball team strung together moments of superior offensive and defensive performances Wednesday night, including a closing first-half run that pulled the team within five points.

Ultimately, though, the Colonials couldn’t pull out a victory in Ohio. GW scored efficiently and forced Xavier into difficult shot attempts, but struggled to prevent the Musketeers from drawing fouls, earning trips to the free throw line and ultimately converting the majority of their attempts.

“Our team has exhibited great effort and we will continue to play hard,” Tsipis said. “We can do that without fouling and we can be disciplined.”

The Colonials (12-15, 6-7) were down 34-29 at the break, after holding the Muskateers without a field goal over the final five minutes and 23 seconds of the half.

But 12 early free throw attempts gave Xavier a clear edge. After the Colonials opened the game on a 7-0 run, the Muskateers responded with a 21-5 scoring run of their own.

GW shot 48.1 percent from the field in the first half, compared to 42.3 percent shooting from Xavier, but Xavier made eight of their twelve chances from the stripe over the first half of play, while the Colonials did not attempt a single free throw.

“When you hold someone to a lower field goal percentage they may then lack confidence. Free throw attempts can restore that confidence and that hurt us early and put us down,” Tsipis said.

Xavier continued to earn trips to the free throw line in the second half. GW’s defense held Xavier to 27.3 percent shooting and a total of six made baskets in the second half, a crushing counter to the Muskateers’ attack.

But after Xavier withstood a strong second half push from GW, including a significant Colonial run over the opening few minutes of play and a shooting drought of their own, to explode as the competition came to a close. A 12-2 run down the stretch cemented the Muskateers’ victory.

Trying to disrupt the Colonials’ attack, the Muskateers concentrated on drawing fouls and halting any GW momentum that may have been building. Xavier made 18 of its 22 second half free throw attempts and limited the Colonials to 36.1 percent shooting, enough to cement its victory.

Senior forward Megan Nipe praised her team’s play against Xavier, but also acknowledged that Wednesday’s matchup easily could have gone the other way for the Colonials.

“We fought really hard and the effort was there. I think we played well enough to win,” Nipe said. “ We missed a few opportunities here and there and that ultimately made the difference. But I still do see this game as one that should have been a win for us.”

Senior guard Danni Jackson led the Colonials with 18 points and Nipe added 15 points. Senior guard Shi-Heria Shipp contributed 10 points and six rebounds while graduate student forward Tara Booker grabbed 11 rebounds in addition to scoring seven points.

Tsipis will work to refocus his squad before they play their final game before heading to the Atlantic 10 tournament. His team’s success, he added, will come with renewed focus on the basic aspects of its play.

“To succeed, we got to be able to have players on the floor who aren’t in foul trouble. But we always have to have the understanding that doing the things that got us the lead in the first place are necessary. That’s how we got a lead at the beginning of the second half but then we went away from our strengths,” Tsipis said. “It often comes down to momentum and we want to build that momentum in our games. There is no one in the league who I think we can’t play with.”

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

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Alexandra Kist.

The Colonials clinched a spot in the Atlantic 10 championship Sunday afternoon with a 57-52 win over St. Bonaventure. It was a valuable victory that gleaned much of its strength off the team maintaining rebounding advantage and stopping transition scoring.

Coming off a two-game losing streak, the Colonials (12-14, 6-6) entered the Smith Center replenished with new focus and tenacity, clearly evident in the team’s offensive drives and defensive rebounds in the first half.

The Bonnies shot the first trey of the game, but that was the only time the Colonials were not tied with the Bonnies or on top on the scoreboard. GW had an impressive start to the game, striking with quick field goals in the paint, scoring on baseline drives, and converting 100 percent of its first half free throw attempts.

“The energy comes from one person at a time. We really feed off of each other,” senior forward Megan Nipe said. “One person is energetic and hyped, we all eventually get there and that’s what makes us successful. When we are energized and motivated, I think we intimidate other teams.”

Halfway through the first, the Colonials got into a steady rhythm, as Nipe totaled five rebounds and senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp put six points on the board, converting three of her four attempted field goals.

The Colonials’ first half strategic edge over the Bonnies was evident by the defensive rebounds and steals made by the unrelenting seniors Danni Jackson, Shipp, and Nipe. Jackson grabbed an impressive rebound as she wiped across the floor for a save with a little over two minutes left in the first.

Shipp had a commanding run, scoring 10 points and Nipe countered the Bonnies’ shooting attempts with eight rebounds out of her eventual 13 of the game, her career-high.  Jackson and Shipp each ended with 12 points, while Nipe added 10 and graduate student forward Tara Booker added 11. Sophomore Chakecia Miller also added a career-best 10 rebounds.

“It’s really just a personal focus of mine, making sure I crash the boards every time. When a shot goes up, I happen to be guarding someone near the bucket, so that helped with my rebounds,” Nipe said. “I think I just knew that this game would come down to whoever put up [a win] on the boards and if we get out and run off the defensive rebounds, that would give us a big advantage.”

Even with a five-point lead over the Bonnies at the end of the first, 30-25, the Colonials only converted 39 percent of their field goal attempts. The team’s focus in the second half was to dominate the court: even with missed layups and open shots, the players sought keep the momentum going to stop St. Bonaventure’s ball movement.

In the second half, the Colonials continued to their push off the strength of an impressive trey by Booker and five more rebounds from Nipe, furthering the team’s dominating defensive execution that has greatly improved with the progression of the season.

“We’ve challenged our guards and from day one we’ve talked about the question, ‘can we be a good rebounding team?’” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.“I think we are our best when we rebound it, transition, and attack off the dribble.”

GW remained in control of the court and held a strong advantage in the second half until the last two minutes of the game, where fouls against GW lead to the Bonnies’ free throw conversion that pulled the score within 4 points. However, the Colonials countered with two quick baskets, closing in the game with GW on top.

Tsipis contributes the win to his team playing their best basketball of the season and its success on stopping transition scoring and its strength in rebounding the ball. GW closed the game holding the Bonnies to 32.1 percent shooting and grabbed a 49-35 advantage on the boards.

“The two biggest things that go overlooked, especially, is that you can stop a team that likes to go on transition if you control the backboards because they’re not able to defensively rebound and get the ball out,” Tsipis said. “I think the other thing is that emphasis of us trying to stop the ball early, and that’s been a ‘three headed monster’ we’ve been working to fight. I think they are all doing a better job at slowing the ball down and they did a good job of recognizing their team shooters and drivers and playing them accordingly.”

The Colonials have two more games until the A-10 championship begins,  and next head to Xavier for the final away game of the regular season.

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Senior guard Danni Jackson drives down the court earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo by Sam Klein | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Jake Deitcher.

Despite a dominant second half, ending the game on a furious 16-3 run, GW couldn’t overcome a stagnant first half Wednesday afternoon.

The Colonials fell at Fordham 66-56, snapping a three-game win streak. It was a loss born of the team’s slow-moving offense, head coach Jonathan Tsipis said, putting the team in a hole before the break it couldn’t dig its way out of.

“We weren’t locked in during the first half,” Tsipis said. “Beginning the game down 17-2 doesn’t help. We took too many jump shots instead of going to the basket. We didn’t make our shots and they are a good shooting team, so they took advantage of our misses.”

The Colonials (11-13, 5-5) struggled to make baskets early in the game.  GW managed to convert only 28.6 percent of their shot attempts in the first half and were unable to fight through the aggressive Fordham defense.

Fordham’s defensive intensity augmented their efficient offensive attack. The Rams began the game on a 17-2 run and continued their torrid pace throughout the first. GW entered halftime down 43-23, after allowing Fordham to shoot 54.3 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from the three-point line.

Senior point guard Danni Jackson attributed her team’s early struggles on offense to poor communication. Jackson credits GW’s improvement in the second half to a change in mindset coming out of the locker room at halftime.

“We came out with intensity in the second half,” Jackson said. “Us not communicating in the first half let them get into a rhythm. We played harder and were focused in the second half.”

The Colonials could not erase a 20-point deficit over the first half, but they outplayed Fordham in the second, resulting in a closer game than anticipated at the break.

GW shot 50 percent from the field in the second, pressuring Fordham endlessly while on defense. The press forced 11 Rams turnovers after the break, which the Colonials converted into 18 points.

“We fought hard in the second half and the right activity level was there,” Tsipis said. “We were able to do things better because of that effort but Fordham played harder than us in the first half. We didn’t play a good half and we can’t dwell on that.”

Senior guard Shi-Heria Shipp led the Colonials with 14 points and Jackson added 13 points.  Sophomore guard Chakecia Miller added six points, four assists and four steals and graduate student center Sara Mostafa grabbed 10 rebounds.

Tsipis looks at the second half of play as evidence of his team’s potential while acknowledging the first half of play as a reminder that GW still has room for improvement.

He often insists that teams must take care of the “things that they can control” when playing games on the road, and today, Tsipis said, the Colonials made sure to wrest control of the second half of play.

“You take care of the things you can control on the road and that first half was acceptable because we worked hard. We are a team that always works. Shots didn’t fall in that first half but we still worked hard. That won’t change,” Tsipis said.

The Colonials have four more games on their schedule before the Atlantic 10 Tournament and Tsipis has challenged his team to finish strong.

Jackson acknowledges that though the Colonials will be playing their hardest in the final stretch of games, their opponents will, too. GW must not back down over the last weeks of play, and have to stay aggressive, Jackson said.

“We didn’t necessarily deal with the pressure well today in the first half and teams will try to pressure us,” Jackson said. “So we are going to bring more pressure against those teams. Pressure is what gets our team going.”

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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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