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Ugur Atalay, men's tennis

Senior Ugur Atalay prepares for his opponent to serve the ball during match against Georgetown last year. Hatchet File Photo

Men’s tennis senior Ugur Atalay and women’s lacrosse senior Sarah Phillips are the outstanding senior student-athletes of the year, nabbing the top prizes at today’s Senior Honors Luncheon.

Atalay, who was named to the A-10 first team April 26, took home the J. Dallas Shirley Outstanding Senior Male Student-Athlete award, given to a graduating male senior who demonstrates achievement in athletics, academics and community service. Atalay earned a 21-9 singles record and a 18-8 doubles record this season for the A-10 champion Colonials.

Phillips was awarded the Lynn George Outstanding Senior Female Student-Athlete award after earning first team honors April 27. Phillips, who is the women’s lacrosse program’s all-time leader in points and assists, paced the A-10 and ranked in the top 10 in NCAA Division I in assists this season.

Senior rowers Eric Anderson and Mackenzie Hovermale captured scholar-athlete of the year honors at the luncheon, and 24 student-athletes were named the most valuable players for their respective teams. Senior guard Tiana Myers took home MVP honors for the women’s basketball team, and, for the second straight year, senior guard Tony Taylor is the most valuable player for the men’s basketball team.

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Senior forward/guard Tara Booker charges around a La Salle defender earlier this season. | Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet Reporter Brennan Murray.

With just a minute and 12 seconds left to play in Hagan Area, senior forward/guard Tara Booker stepped up to the arc, squared, and released a shot that swished through the net and cut Saint Joseph’s lead to three.

And after GW gave up a bucket on the other end, Booker came back and did it again, converting on another trey, this time cutting the Hawks’ advantage to two.

But after failing to score on their final two offensive possessions, it became clear that the Colonials’ comeback against conference foe Saint Joseph’s would fall short.  Although they were big-time shots, Booker’s final minute three-ball conversions weren’t the norm for the team’s offensive performance on the day­– the only two three-pointers GW made.

Despite the ultimate 52-49 loss at the hands of the Hawks, head coach Mike Bozeman remains positive as his team heads into the A-10 tournament. The Colonials’ focus and intensity during the game, he said, showed they’re ready to push hard through postseason play.

After the La Salle game, we went back into practice and focused on making game-time decisions,” Bozeman said. “The girls came in today and really showed that we are capable of beating everyone in our conference. They’re encouraged and I’m encouraged as we head into the conference tournament.”

As play started in the first half, neither team could get anything going on either side of the ball. Sloppy play led to a chaotic first five minutes, during which both teams struggled to slow down their respective offenses. Though the Colonials opened with a 4-0 run, they missed seven of their first eight shots, allowing the Hawks to easily even things up at eight apiece with 13 minutes and 42 seconds left in the half.

The low-scoring effort continued for both teams as the half pushed on. Though the Colonials mix of man-to-man and 3-2 zone defenses stymied Saint Joseph’s for the first 12 minutes of play, missed shots on the offensive end allowed the Hawks to develop an 11-point run over the final stretch of the half. Combined with the Colonials’ continued shooting struggles, Saint Joseph’s run left GW with a six point deficit as the half ended.

Still, Bozeman said, despite the Colonials’ poor first half shooting performance, defensive execution kept GW within reach.

“I wasn’t discouraged because I thought our defense was performing pretty well,” Bozeman said. “We kept focused and we maintained striking distance. That was important.”

But as the second half started, the Colonials’ defense was immediately put to the test. Following a field goal from senior guard Tiana Myers, the Hawks opened up a quick five-point run while showing more comfort in shooting from long range. After hitting only one three-pointer in the first half, the Hawks hit four crucial threeballs in the second, many times directly in response to a Colonial field goal.

Falling victim to the difficult traps Saint Joseph’s zone defense created, GW failed to find openings on offense until sophomore forward Chelisa Painter drove to the hole, scored, and drew a foul with 12 minutes and two seconds left to play.  The play served as a spark for the Colonials comeback that would follow and symbolized the growing confidence of the returning players to the lineup. Returning junior forward Shi-Heria Shipp also added two second-half buckets and finished the game with four points and a steal.

“The thing that helped [Shipp and Painter] the most was those two days that we spent trying to get the chemistry together,” Bozeman said. “They needed that to be able to assist us in the way that they’re capable of.”

Finally developing a sense of offensive rhythm, the Colonials began to claw their way back into the game. With just over a minute left to play, GW pulled within three points thanks to Booker’s first three-pointer. After her second three-point conversion, the Colonials found themselves down just two points. But from that point on, the Hawks were able to hold on and get the defensive stops they needed to hang on to the victory.

Despite the loss, Booker recorded a double-double, tallying 15 points and 12 rebounds, six of which came off the offensive glass. Myers and junior guard Danni Jackson also contributed greatly on offense, compiling eight and 12 points, respectively. Redshirt junior forward Brooke Wilson contributed six rebounds as well.

Though Bozeman admits he’s disappointed about the Colonials five-game losing streak to round out the regular season, he also feels encouraged about the progress has team has made in preparation for the approaching A-10 tournament, with tenth seeded GW slated to take on No. 7 Duquesne March 2 at 5 p.m.

“I’m proud of how hard the girls played amidst the intensity of the game and we’re going to take that into the tournament,” Bozeman said. “I think we are going to be a problem for the other teams.”

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Junior guard Danni Jackson makes a jump shot from the top of the key in the final seconds of the first half. Zachary Krahmer | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet Reporter Brennan Murray.

Though the variety of statistical categories in basketball can be invaluable for the assessment of a team’s performance, sometimes winning or losing comes down to one thing: hitting or missing shots.

After coming off of three consecutive losses, the most recent one at the hands of Massachusetts on Sunday, the Colonials (11-16) returned to the Smith Center Wednesday night looking to take down conference rival La Salle. Though a victory against the Explorers would have given GW a sure berth in the A-10 tournament, the Colonials failed to capitalize on the opportunity, ultimately losing the match 69-47.

“It’s tough to win games when you’re shooting in the thirties, the low thirties,” head coach Mike Bozeman said. “It’s funny because we’ve really tried to address that in practice by working on shooting. We take hundreds and hundreds of shots.”

A fiery 8-0 run started things off for the Colonials, providing them with an early blast of momentum. Four Colonial steals in the first four minutes not only served as a positive omen for GW’s defense, but also led directly to four field goals. It was exactly the type of transition play Bozeman believes his team needs to consistently reproduce to make up for their lack of size on the low-post.

But the Colonials’ electric play early on proved unsustainable. With 15 minutes and 30 seconds to play, La Salle opened a scoring run of their own, netting 16 consecutive points while keeping GW scoreless over that stretch. Though senior guard Tiana Myers eventually stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer, the Colonials struggled to claw their way back into contention with the Explorers. Over the final eight minutes of the first half, GW was down by at least 10 points at any moment.

The Colonials’ developing tendency to start a game strong but then waiver in the latter part off the first half is something Bozeman attributed to his team’s inability to develop consistency.

“It came at the same time that we missed nine straight shots. And then I bring people off the bench and it furthers the problem,” Bozeman said. “It became a snowball effect because  I was trying to work the infusion in while we were in a drought.”

By the end of the half, La Salle had accumulated an 11-point advantage, leaving GW wondering what they needed to do to turn things around. The Colonials finished the half with a 35.7% shooting percentage, but as Bozeman noted, his team’s 28 first half field goal attempts were just three less than the Explorers’ 31 attempts.

A prominent reason for the Colonials’ deficit at halftime was their inability to maintain the offensive and defensive rhythm they came out with in the opening minutes of the game. Bozeman believes that the infusion of returning players into his lineup is causing adjustment problems that translate into a loss of cohesion on the floor. For much of the season, the Colonials have only been able to rely on six players because of multiple injuries.

“I think what we’re struggling with is getting into a flow with the addition of the other players. I’m working on getting the cohesiveness back,” Bozeman said. “I’m not saying I would rather play with six, but the flow that those six were in is vastly different than trying to add those pieces back in.”

To open the second, La Salle converted on an aggressive three-point play, foreshadowing their success throughout the rest of the game. GW struggled mightily on both sides of the ball and with five minutes to play, they found themselves in a rare and uncomfortable 20-point hole. The Colonials allowed the Explorers to shoot 40 percent from the field on the day, while only shooting 31.7 percent themselves.

“I don’t think this is a low point for us, but there is definitely a lot of frustration,” Bozeman said. “They know how much work they are putting in and I don’t think they can explain the difficulty and the chemistry that’s within the team right now.”

Despite the losing effort, Myers and senior forward/guard Tara Booker both ended the game with double-digit point totals, compiling 15 and 12 points, respectively. Booker also added seven rebounds.

The Colonials shouldn’t be counted out just yet, Myers said. Their focus is still razor-sharp.

“You can perfect skill and spend hours in the gym but it’s your passion, your heart and your mental state that’s key,” said Myers.

From Bozeman’s point of view, the key will be finding a way to make the team play as a more cohesive unit in preparation for the A-10 tournament that starts just two weeks from today.

Before that, the Colonials play their final regular season game vs. conference foe St. Joseph’s Sunday in Philadelphia, Pa., and Bozeman remains steadfast in his belief in GW’s abilities.

“It’s such a fragile thing, chemistry. It takes time but we don’t have that right now. We have to go and play a tough St. Joe’s game and prepare for the tournament,” Bozeman said. “We have to work that out and I’m confident that we can.”

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Senior guard Tara Booker dodges a Saint Louis defender earlier this season. | Hatchet File Photo

Two players will opt out of celebrations tonight as the women’s basketball team honors its senior members during the home game against La Salle.

Four members of the roster are technically seniors, but senior forward/guard Tara Booker and senior center Sara Mostafa won’t be honored in tonight’s festivities due to their remaining year of eligibility.

“Tara and Sara both have the right to apply for a fifth year because of their injuries,” an athletics communication spokesperson said, asking that the statement be attributed to the department as per athletics communications policy. “They are not taking part in senior night.”

Booker missed most of the 2009-10 season due to complications stemming from offseason meniscus surgery. She returned the following year to average 9.3 points per game, leading the Colonials in rebounding – 6.8 per game – and three-point field goals made – 2.0 per game. This season, Booker averages 11.8 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. She is eighth all-time for three-pointers at GW, with 115 made through 66 career games.

Sara Mostafa, basketball

Senior center Sara Mostafa heads to the basket against Virginia Tech Nov. 20.| Hatchet File Photo

Mostafa was sidelined indefinitely this season after fracturing her hand before GW’s game against Georgetown Dec. 11. In the offseason, head coach Mike Bozeman structured his motion-oriented offense around Mostafa’s commanding presence in the post. Her absence, coupled with numerous other injuries to GW’s roster, forced the Colonials to readjust its play. Last season, Mostafa averaged 8.1 points on 42.7 percent shooting, 4.0 rebounds and 20.0 minutes in 29 games played.

Neither Booker nor Mostafa have announced their plans for next year.

In an interesting coincidence, Booker and Mostafa’s ties extend past shared additional Colonial eligibility. They were high-school teammates at Absegami High School in New Jersey and also suited up together before that in middle school and junior leagues.

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Senior guard Tiana Myers finds an opening and shoots a jumper earlier this season. Zachary Krahmer | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet Staff Writer Noah Cohen.

As the shot clock ticked down on the play, redshirt junior forward Brooke Wilson launched a long jump shot, watching as it drained through the net.

The basket broke through three minutes of play without a GW score, and pulled the Colonials within one with a minute and 16 seconds to play. But Massachusetts kept control for the next minute of play, keeping GW from scoring again.

The Colonials (11-15) ultimately fell to the Minutemen 59-53 Sunday, extending GW’s losing streak to three, while snapping Massachusetts’ nine-game losing streak. The loss handed the Minutemen their first home victory since Dec. 11 and just their second A-10 win. And as the team prepared to return to Foggy Bottom, head coach Mike Bozeman didn’t think it was a loss that saw his program play its hardest.

“This was not a good overall effort for the entire 40 minutes,” Bozeman said.

GW’s bench continued to plague it Sunday. Despite suiting nine players, an increase from the six the Colonials were forced to play with earlier in the season, the bench contributed just three points on the day.

The lack of production from the roster, Bozeman said, has roots in the Colonials lacking a solid offensive rhythm. Substitutions in and out of the lineup make it hard to create a consistent game plan, a challenge that sometimes halts GW’s play on the court.

“We’re trying to play [the once-injured players] back into the fold,” Bozeman said.  “We’re trying to get a rhythm with this team overall.

As the game began, neither team was able to assert a clear advantage, neither team leading by more than five points over the first 15 minutes of play. But Massachusetts exploded on a late run in the first, tallying a 14-3 spurt that gave it an 11-point lead with 40 seconds left.

It was a lot of ground to make up before the break, but the Colonials did their best to close the gap, scoring the final three points before the half. Still, GW entered halftime down eight, crippled by the Minutemen’s 50 percent shooting and the Colonials’ inability to have the same success at the net, shooting just 37.5 on the half.

“That’s part of the problem with so much of the valuable injuries that we had,” Bozeman said, reflecting on the team’s struggles.

The Colonials weren’t able to immediately regain ground out of the break, remaining in a seven-point hole four minutes into the second, when senior guard Tiana Myers helped jumpstart an 11-2 GW scoring run, adding six points on her own. It was a boost that gave the Colonials a two-point lead, their first of the game, but one that wasn’t enough to cement a victory.

The teams traded baskets over the final minutes of the second, before Wilson’s basket, and GW’s ensuing failure to convert on five chances, wrapped up play.

In the end, the Colonials had no answer for the Minutemen’s 45.1 shooting on the game. Though GW was able to limit Massachusetts’ success at the basket on the second, Colonials errors kept them from truly asserting dominance. Despite earning a slim advantage on boards, 36-33, GW turned it over 14 times. While Massachusetts had an almost equal 15 turnovers on the game, as the team with less successful shooting, the Colonials could ill afford sloppy play.

“There were spurts where we got back into the game and took the lead.  We would get a steal and dribble the ball off our foot,” Bozeman said. “Or we would get a steal and a turnover after.”

Myers added 13 total points and pulled down a team-high eight boards, including one stretch of the game where she scored 10 of GW’s 15 points over six minutes of play. Freshman guard Chakecia Miller provided a solid presence at both ends of the court, adding seven points, three rebounds and nabbing five steals.

But it was senior forward/guard Tara Booker who truly battled to pace the Colonials. Hitting shots from all areas of the key, she earned her third double-double of the season, matching her season-high with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

“Tara carried us all night,” Bozeman said. “Rebounds are effort so you cannot question Tara’s effort.  She gave us a great boost.”

The Colonials next return to Foggy Bottom and prepare to host La Salle, looking to snap their losing skid. The game is “winnable,” Bozeman said, and he didn’t anticipate the holes in GW’s play carrying over to its next contest.

“I don’t think it’s anything that we are going to carry over to next game.  I’m looking forward to ourselves bouncing back on Wednesday against LaSalle,” Bozeman said.

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Tara Booker, womens basketball, bball

Senior forward Tara Booker tries to grab a rebound against Charlotte earlier this season. | Hatchet File Photo

Momentum was on GW’s side at halftime.

A late burst of energy in the first had propelled the Colonials to a five-point lead at the break, a lead they grabbed after falling behind to the host Owls. In theory, GW should have returned from halftime riding that wave of energy, carrying their rally to open the second half and snatch victory.

In practice, the Colonials (11-14) faltered, allowing Temple’s heavy pressure to disrupt their play. Turnovers, missed shots and shaky rhythm plagued GW’s game, and the Owls ultimately handed the Colonials a 75-54 defeat.

“We went into the halftime feeling very good. I felt like we had the game at the pace we wanted it. And I knew they were Temple, they’re 10-1 in the conference. I knew they were going to come out and make a run, I tried to prepare the girls for that, not to be panicking,” Bozeman said.

Two key statistics told the story of the game. The first, the Colonials’ 10 second-half turnovers, nine of which were Temple steals, shed light on the Owls’ crushing pressure. Though tThe second, the 42-26 Owls edge in rebounds, was a clear indicator of Temple’s dominating presence under the net and in the paint.

The Owls, a conference powerhouse this season, were quick to build off of their ball control. They earned 21 points off of turnovers, as compared to GW’s six, grabbed a 24-8 edge in the paint and netted 14 fast-break points. The Colonials’ lack of control, Bozeman said, was the key factor in the loss.

“All season, we’re going to struggle with rebounding the ball. And there’s not going to be too many games where we’re going to win the rebounding battle. But what we concentrate on and what we’ve been very good at, for most of the season, is controlling the turnovers. Winning the turnover battle,” Bozeman said. “When you get outrebounded in the way we did and you have basically, an even turnover ratio, than you’re going to have a negative outcome.”

Temple opened the day’s play with a quick offensive push. Despite taking some bad shots, the Owls grabbed an 18-6 lead early in the first, using doubleteams to trap junior guard Danni Jackson and shut down GW’s attack.

But the Colonials saw Temple’s poor shot choices and knew they had an opportunity to regain the lead. Turning up the heat on their own defense, GW held the Owls without a shot for over five minutes, using that time to explode on a 21-4 run that gave the Colonials the lead and forced a Temple timeout. GW didn’t break stride, keeping pace to take a slim two-point lead at the break and forcing the Owls’ shooting to drop to 33.3 percent on the half.

“We played like it was no pressure. In the second half, with the opportunity and with being up, we allowed their defense to turn into pressure. And it affected the way we executed our offense,” Bozeman said.

Bozeman thought his team’s play before the break would boost their return to the court. It was an excited locker room at halftime, he said, one that he anticipated maintaining its composure and high-energy performance in the second half.

But it was the Owls who came out shooting, upping their second-half percentage to 64.3, including four three-point shots that helped extend a widening lead over the Colonials. Temple added 45 second-half points that saw five of its players reach double-digits for the second straight game, using a 28-5 opening run to second-half play that decisively halted GW’s attack.

“We controlled the pace more in the first half to the degree where sometimes I had them walking the ball up the court, and in the second half, we had live ball turnovers. And that was a byproduct of the pressure,” Bozeman said. “We allowed them to up the tempo a little bit through those turnovers.”

But just as GW’s defense declined after the break, the Colonials found themselves stymied by Temple’s pressure on the other side of the ball. The Owls held GW without a basket over a ten-minute span halfway through the section, silencing the Colonials’ shots and dropping their shooting to 23.1 percent from the floor, zero from beyond the arc.

GW faltering under pressure, Bozeman said, can be traced back to its depth challenges. Hampered by injury, the Colonials have see many players rotating between playing and being sidelined to the bench. The inconsistency, Bozeman said, makes it hard to maintain and develop a solid rhythm of play.
Some players continue to be a force for GW despite the roster changes. Senior forward/guard Tara Booker and senior guard Tiana Myers both scored 15 points for the Colonials Wednesday, both nabbing two steals and Myers dishing out five assists. As a whole, though, Bozeman said the roster substitutions remain a challenge for his team, disrupting the tightly-controlled offense his game plan requires.

“When you deal with the amount of injuries that we’ve dealt with, it’s one thing to get bodies to come back, but then when you have that and you have to get acclimated to how people play again and it’s just hard to get a flow,” Bozeman said. “When we have those injuries, we’re going back and forth. Somebody’s in, somebody’s out,  and you’re shifting people, personnel, adding a volleyball player [sophomore forward Jamie Armstrong] kind of thing. Then you’re still in the development stages and it’s hard to get a rhythm there.”

The Colonials head to Massachusetts Sunday, for a 2 p.m. start. As he looks to the end of the A-10 regular season schedule, Bozeman said he sees his players continue to play hard, and is confident in their ability to rebound from the loss and their injury challenges. 

“I really believe that I’m capable of getting us to a point where we can be effective in this tournament. But we just have to finish really well,” Bozeman said. “I thought, believe it or not, from the Richmond game to today’s game, we had a better grip on how we wanted to play.”

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wbball, dayton, tiana myers

Senior guard Tiana Myers charges down the court earlier this season. | Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet Reporter Brennan Murray.

It’s only on the rarest occasions that basketball teams gain confidence following a loss.

But for the Colonials (10-12) Saturday afternoon, a 80-69 loss to undefeated conference rival St. Bonaventure wasn’t completely negative. Head coach Mike Bozeman said the team’s performance, despite the defeat, actually highlighted GW’s potential to compete at a high level with some of the nation’s top programs.

“Not everything went our way, but we fought,” Bozeman said. “With the six players that we have available, to even have an opportunity to seize this game on the road against a team that’s in front in our conference, that just shows what we’re capable of.”

From the first minutes of play it was evident that neither the Colonials nor the Bonnies would concede victory without a fight. On the very first possession of the game, senior guard Tiana Myers found an open look from the elbow and drained a confident shot. The shot, which also gave the Colonials a quick lead, more significantly made her the 26th member in GW women’s basketball history to score over 1,000 career points. As if that milestone wasn’t enough, Myers would also go on to break her career record of 24 points, netting an impressive 27 points overall on the day.

But despite confident shooting from Myers and the rest of the GW squad, St. Bonaventure never failed to provide answers from their end of the court, most of the time from beyond the arc. The Bonnies hit a total of 11 three-pointers on the day, eight of which came from St. Bonaventure’s sharpshooting senior guard Jessica Jenkins. Neither team hesitated to capitalize on open looks – in the first half alone, there were 28 converted field goals between both teams.

Bozeman believes his team’s ability to put together such a large number of shots is a product of recent offensive adjustments he’s had to make to counteract his bench’s lack of depth.

“That’s something we’ve been really working on in practice. When you have these kinds of setbacks in terms of getting down to six players, you have to settle in and develop the audacity to come into a place like this and actually believe you can win this type of game,” Bozeman said.

By the middle of the first half, the game had transformed into a shootout, a back-and-forth battle between Myers and St. Bonaventure’s Jenkins, a player whose success on the day pushed her into the top 25 players in NCAA history for made three-point field goals. But it was not until the end of the first half that the Bonnies eventually broke away from GW, a run that culminated with a seven-point lead over the Colonials heading into the break.

Also contributing to the Colonials shooting success in the first half with a three pointer each were junior guard Danni Jackson and senior guard/forward Tara Booker, both of whom ended the game in double digits with 10 and 13 points, respectively. Redshirt junior Brooke Wilson also added impressive numbers, netting eight points and five rebounds on the day, four of them coming off the offensive glass. Bozeman said Wilson’s versatility and dominance on the boards will be key as the Colonials head down the final stretch of the regular season.

“We even ask Brooke to guard some guards because she’s probably one of the most versatile players in the conference,” Bozeman said. “Rebounding-wise, she’s an athlete. She’s long, she’s athletic, and she has a nose for the basketball. We depend on that.”

Coming back on the court to start the second half of play, the Colonials were initially unable to claw away at the lead the Bonnies had acquired. Only two minutes in, St. Bonaventure had were up by 13, taking advantage of a struggling GW defense. But with a little over 16 minutes to go, the Colonials offense found a rhythm, aided mostly by a mix of hustle and offensive boards.

With 10 minutes and 48 seconds to play, the Colonials finally pulled within three points of the Bonnies after a strong drive to the hole and layup by Myers. But on their next possession, St. Bonaventure nailed a three, shaking the GW’s momentum and ending its seven-point run. From that point on, GW failed to get within five points of their opponent, ultimately losing the game 80-69.

“Fatigue obviously was a factor, but we executed the game plan. If it wasn’t for a few mistakes once we got down three [points], I think the game could have went a different way,” Bozeman said.

Despite the loss, Bozeman believes his team is finding smooth ground, underlining GW’s focus on execution of the new offensive schemes.

Executing, along with returning more bodies to the bench, he believes, will make for an extremely exciting rest of the regular season.

“I think this group has bought into the system. I think today they were very disciplined to that with the exception of a few mental lapses at some inopportune times. These guys are ready to move on to another level,” Bozeman said. “We need more bodies. If we get and get those guys on the same level of these guys in terms of commitment to the system, I’m excited about where we can go from here.”

The Colonials are back in action Wednesday at noon when they host conference rival Xavier in the Smith Center.

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wbball, dayton, tiana myers

Senior guard Tiana Myers looks to pass the ball to a teammate during the first half of the game against Dayton Saturday afternoon. Myers scored 12 points, falling just one point shy of reaching the 1,000-point mark for her career. Zachary Krahmer | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet Staff Writer Noah Cohen.

Head coach Mike Bozeman is known for his candid quotes. It was ironic, then, that he chose to borrow from arguably one of the least quotable figures in sports to describe the challenges his team faces with its depleted roster.

“I learned something from the head coach in New England: ‘Everybody’s good,’” Bozeman said with a chuckle, referring to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Bozeman’s teams have struggled with injuries for the past three seasons, the head coach watching as, one by one, his players return to the sidelines, kept in their warm-up gear by a series of ailments that are classified as freak coincidences at best.

The Colonials were able to suit only six players for Saturday’s game against Dayton, the same number that took the court against Saint Louis Wednesday. But unlike the gutsy win over the Billikens, the Colonials (10-11) couldn’t grab a victory over the Flyers, falling 74-56 Saturday afternoon at the Smith Center.

GW fell behind early in the game, trailing 16-4 just over six minutes into the contest, and the team couldn’t recover from the early hole, working all game to overcome its slow start.

“I think the energy was fine.  The execution and how we started off from the beginning of the game,” junior point guard Danni Jackson said, “We just dug ourselves deep and we couldn’t get out of it.”

Usually the team’s offensive firepower, Jackson struggled from the field Saturday, shooting just 3-for-18. She finished the game with nine points, seven rebounds and five assists, but with the bench down to one player, the junior’s most impressive stat was her 40 minutes of playing time.

That high amount of playing time isn’t ideal, and Bozeman knows his team needs to capitalize on the minutes in the game when they’re the most rested. Learning to build on those crucial moments, he said, is key in adjusting to the depleted roster.

“What we were talking about in the locker room after the game was the start of the game and the start of both halves,” Bozeman said. “We have to get better in those five minutes spurts in order for us to stay or to capitalize on our quickness and our abilities against these teams.”

The Colonials were outscored by 12 in the paint and bested by 12 on the boards. GW had no answer for Dayton’s dominant presence under the net, particularly guard Andrea Hoover, who dropped 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Flyers, pushing Dayton to its 44.3 percent shooting from the field.

Senior forward/guard Tara Booker lead the team in points, netting 13, and in rebounds, pulling down 9.  Junior forward Megan Nipe and senior guard Tiana Myers each added 12 points, Myers falling one point shy of reaching the 1,000-point mark for her career, and freshman guard Chakecia Miller added 10 points of her own. The Colonials closed the day shooting 31.3 percent, unable to capitalize on 19 Dayton turnovers.

The Colonials next head to St. Bonaventure Feb. 4, with tip set for 1 p.m, and the team isn’t ready to give up quite yet, Jackson said.

“I think we need to just keep going to the hot hand.  We have a lot of shooters on the team, especially with these six everyone can score,” Jackson said.

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Junior guard Danni Jackson fends off Greyhound defenders earlier this season. | Hatchet File Photo

When senior center Sara Mostafa fractured her hand a day before the Colonials were scheduled to take on Georgetown, GW was riding high on a four-game win streak.

After Mostafa’s injury, head coach Mike Bozeman was forced to adjust the offense he spent all off-season researching and perfecting around his center. The adjustment hit some speed bumps, GW losing its next three games in a row, but the Colonials picked up their first A-10 road win at Rhode Island Wednesday, showing they’ve begun to find their stride in the revamped offense.

GW took the court against the Rams sporting a 2-4 record on the road, coming off a game where Charlotte completed a come-from-behind victory in the final seconds of play. But the Colonials (9-9) used speed and quickness to their advantage Wednesday en route to a 63-42 victory, snapping a two-game losing streak.

A clear sign of Mostafa’s absence came at the glass, Rhode Island owning a 33-29 rebounding advantage. But GW compensated for its lack of size by scoring 18 points off of 19 Rams turnovers. And though the Colonials lost the battle at the boards 20-13 in the first half, GW turned the ball over just one time. That type of play, Bozeman said, will be key to the Colonials’ success as the A-10 season progresses.

“Our biggest struggle is going to be rebounding,” Bozeman said. “We don’t have a battle rebounding every night, but where we can even the playing field is in the turnover department. It’s something that we have to hang our hat on.”

GW got out to a fast start against Rhode Island, using an 8-1 scoring run over the first four and a half minutes of play to build a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of night. While the Rams struggled in almost every facet of the game, save rebounding, Rhode Island’s junior guard Ashley Rivera kept the game close over the first ten minutes with her long range shooting. She hit back-to-back to three pointers with eight and half minutes to play in the first half, but couldn’t make up for the rest of her team’s struggles, as the Colonials cruised to a 41-23 halftime lead, closing out the final three minutes on a 10-0 run.

The Colonials out gunned Rhode Island early, shooting 42.9 percent from the field in the first half while the Rams shot just 29 percent. Bozeman pointed to the advantage of his smaller lineup as a big part of his team’s success.

“It’s going to be a hard matchup for most teams with [big post players] that are trying to guard us, and that’s what we exploited today.” Bozeman said. “Scoring is going to be there. We are going to be quicker, we’re going press, and we’re going to cause turnovers. We’ll be able to score the basketball.”

Lead by junior guard Danni Jackson with 16 points, the Colonials also earned double-figure scoring from senior guard Tiana Myers and junior guard Megan Nipe, who scored 15 points and 12 points, respectively. Senior forward Tara Booker grabbed eight rebounds in addition to putting up eight points, and the Colonials maintained a double-digit lead for the entire second half.

“We were working really hard on that all week, on moving our bodies through the offense and sharing the basketball,” Bozeman said. “When we do that we are tough to guard.”

Though GW was commanding offensively, Bozeman was even more focused on the defensive play put forth by his team. While the smaller lineup has allowed the Colonials to run more full court presses, Bozeman was particularly impressed with the half-court defense in the second half.

Rhode Island stayed under 30 percent shooting on the game, but the biggest defensive adjustment for the Colonials came at the perimeter. After the Rams shot 42.5 percent from long range in the first, Bozeman and his team readjusted, holding Rhode Island to 33.3 percent shooting from three-point range in the second.

“Rivera had a good start on us with the threes in the first half, but in the second half we took pride in shutting her down,” Bozeman said. “We held her to just one field goal in the second half. When you have that kind of defensive performance it makes your offense a lot better.”

In addition to defense, the Colonials went a perfect 15-for-15 from the free throw line, an indication of the team’s focus, Bozeman said.

“When you’re shooting free throws you are focused and concentrating and that boils over to other aspects of the game. I’m very encouraged when I see us getting free throws early because I know we’re focused and locked in on the game and that’s where I need us to be,” Bozeman said.

GW next travels to Pittsburgh Jan. 21 to square off against Duquesne at 2 p.m.

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Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 11:05 p.m.

Colonials fall in A-10 road opener

Danni Jackson, women's basketball

Junior guard Danni Jackson's three point baskets helped put the Colonials temporarily in the lead against A-10 foe Richmond Wednesday before the Colonials fell 74-57 to the Spiders. | Hatchet File Photo

The Colonials knew their first A-10 road game would be a challenge as they stared down Richmond, a foe that boasts one of the conference’s top offenses.

What they didn’t know was Richmond’s redshirt junior Rachael Bilney would set a school record en route to a career-high 32 points, as GW (8-8, 1-1) fell 74-57 in their first road conference game of the season.

The Spiders’ guard torched the Colonials defense from behind the arc, draining eight of nine shots from the three-point range, breaking a Richmond record for three-pointers that had not been touched in more than 21 years.

“[Bilney] was on fire,” Bozeman said. “We went to a man-to-man defense to try to deter her. Everything we did, she kept shooting it. I thought that we got away from our game plan. I thought everything that they did in the first half we had an answer for. In the second half they were mentally tougher than us and they stuck to their game plan more then we stuck to ours.”

The Colonials entered the Robins Center ranked second in the A-10 in field-goal percentage defense but immediately felt the pressure of the conference’s top shooting team. Coming off of only their third loss of the season, the Spiders found Bilney for a three only 12 seconds into the half, a trend that would dominate the rest of game.

Colonial senior forward Tara Booker, who was named the A-10 co-player of the week Monday, responded with five of the Colonials first seven points and helped GW to an early lead in a back-and-forth half. After junior guard Danni Jackson drained her second trey to put the Colonials in the lead with just over three minutes in the half, the Spiders answered with nine consecutive points over a one minute and 10 second span as Bilney scored on back-to-back buckets from long range, propelling Richmond to a 32-30 halftime lead.

“The run they made at the end of the half was very important,” Bozeman said. “I thought that there were times when we had control of the game. I thought there were times we had opportunities to stretch the lead and take control of the game.”

GW regained the lead coming out of halftime, but seven consecutive points from the A-10’s leading scorer, Richmond’s Abby Oliver, put the Spiders back on top. As Bilney followed with back-to-back threes for the second time, senior guard Tiana Myers responded with a three of her own and Booker drained a jump shot to cut the deficit to a single point with 10 minutes remaining.

Over the next five minutes, Richmond took the life out of GW as they used a 15-0 scoring run to break the back-and-forth game wide open.

“I thought in the second half they were just mentally tougher than us,” Bozeman said.  “We never quite got onto a roll where we could throw a knockout punch. I thought they got into a rhythm on their offensive end.”

While the Colonials defense has been the most consistent aspect of their game this season, the Richmond offense proved too much to handle as the second half progressed. Richmond shot nearly 49 percent from the floor while GW shot just 38 percent, but it was shooting from deep that the Colonials had no answer for, as the Spiders finished 12-for-18 from behind the arc. Bozeman attributed the poor defensive effort to both a lack of mental toughness as well as simply stunning shooting performance posted by Richmond.

“[Bilney] hit a couple shots that were from 25 feet, but at the same time she did that in the first half and we need to know that we have to guard there,” Bozeman said. “There were a couple times when the shot clock was running down and we helped off of her. Those kind of mental lapses, we have to be a lot tougher mentally. They made us pay for those kind of mistakes.”

Offensively, Booker added yet another solid performance, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds.  Jackson also scored 14 points and tallied four steals while Myers posted 11 points. Despite a 16-8 advantage for GW off of second-chance points, Richmond scored 25 points off of GW’s 16 turnovers to compensate.

Moving forward, Bozeman pointed to a need to improve his team’s mental toughness from all aspects of the game.

“It’s not all about our physical gifts or our skills set,” Bozeman said. “We have to add the mental toughness, we have to grow and get stronger mentally as a unit. That’s not just the players, that’s the coaches, the managers, the ball boys, that’s everybody. We all have to get tougher mentally so that we can stick to a game plan. We had our shot at this game. Richmond didn’t lose it, they took it.”

The Colonials next play host to Charlotte on Jan 14 at 2 p.m. in the Smith Center.

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