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Villanova

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.

Who: GW (22-10) vs. Villanova (23-8)
Where: The Pavillion
When: Sunday, March 23 at 1 p.m.

It’s do or die for the Colonials as they continue their postseason run at Villanova in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament Sunday, having knocked out East Carolina 86-68 at the Smith Center Wednesday.

GW has been nearly unstoppable at the Smith Center this year, but has gone 5-5 on the road. In unfamiliar territory, it will be the Colonials aggressive, high-possession style offense against Villanova’s strong, calculated defense.

Sophomore forward Jonquel Jones charges to the basket earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Sophomore forward Jonquel Jones charges to the basket earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Case for Villanova:

The Wildcats have been hardened through the season by a tough schedule, ranking 50th in RPI according to the NCAA, compared to the Colonials at 72nd.

Absent of a truly dominant scorer, the Wildcats make up for it with nearly flawless protection of the basketball – turning it over less than nine times per game. Villanova’s 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio nearly doubles GW’s.

While Villanova’s play is predicated on their defense, the Wildcats do have ways to make opponents pay offensively, specifically with the three-ball. They average 8.4 buckets from downtown per game and have racked up more than 10 three pointers 11 times this year.

Junior forward Lauren Burford does the most long-range damage, making 2.1 treys per game off 40 percent shooting from behind the arc, but GW should also watch out for junior forward Emily Leer, who went 5-6 from downtown in the Wildcats’ regular-season finale. Her 6-foot-2 frame and sharp-shooting abilities will cause matchup problems for the Colonials frontcourt.

In the Wildcats’ win over Quinnipiac, senior guard Devon Kane surpassed the 1,000 career-point mark. She has been on a role as of late, averaging 13 points per game on the season.

Case for GW:

If GW can push the pace of the game and avoid getting stifled by Wildcat defenders, they have an advantage with the more potent offense. The Colonials score almost 77 points per game, while Villanova scores just under 65.

Additionally, GW’s greatest strength – rebounding – is Villanova’s greatest weakness. The Wildcats get beaten off the boards to the tune of a five-rebound deficit per game. Villanova shoots the ball over 40 percent from the field, so limiting their chances will be key for the Colonials.

Villanova’s versatile, sharp-shooting forwards have been difficult to contain all season, but facing 6-foot-4 Jonquel Jones could be a different story. Taking away the Wildcat’s height advantage, Jones and freshman Caira Washington have also grown more comfortable moving around and not living exclusively in the paint, a key to stick with Villanova’s stretch forwards.

The Villanova defense can be suffocating, holding opponents under 58 points per game, but it only creates a modest 12.1 turnovers per game. This may leave the Colonials some room to play their high-octane transition game without fear of having the ball pilfered away.

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives towards the net during the Colonials first-round WNIT victory against Eastern Carolina University. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Graduate student guard Danni Jackson drives towards the net during the Colonials first-round WNIT victory against Eastern Carolina University. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

With both teams preferring very different tempos, expect the team who better controls the pace of the game to come out with the victory, and move on to the third round, played March 26-28.

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Jess Hicks, women's lacrosse

Junior goalkeeper Jess Hicks, center, defends the net during a home game against Mount Saint Mary's. Hatchet File Photo.

Junior goalkeeper Jess Hicks is the Atlantic 10 Women’s Lacrosse Defensive Player of the Week – the third Colonial to earn league accolades this week.

Hicks allowed just seven goals during GW’s March 14 victory over Villanova, making eight saves and posting a .533 save percentage after facing 24 shots over the 60 minutes of play. Monday, Hicks was in net for the Colonials’ 16-8 victory over Mount St. Mary’s, making four saves and pushing her record so far this season to 5-1. GW is off to a 6-2 start this season – matching the 2005 squad – which won nine of its first 11 games for the best start through eight games in program history.

Sunday, Hicks and the Colonials next visit Denver.

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Friday, Sept. 2, 2011 3:16 p.m.

Lonergan confirms Armwood transfer

Isaiah Armwood officially became the newest member of the Colonials today, when men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan officially confirmed his previously reported transfer.

Armwood will take to the sidelines for GW after spending the last two seasons with Villanova. Per NCAA transfer requirements, he will have to sit out the upcoming season, but has two years of eligibility remaining.

“It’s a brand new start,” Armwood said. “It was a hard decision [to transfer], but it was the best decision for me. I look forward to working with my teammates and coaches and helping the team as much as possible.”

Villanova transfer Isaiah Armwood will take to the courts for the Colonials in the 2012-2013 season, the first major transfer of head coach Mike Lonergan's tenure with the program. | Courtesy Villanova sports information.

The Baltimore-native averaged 2.4 points on 48.1 percent shooting, 2.9 rebounds, 0.6 blocks, and 14.2 minutes over 61 games during two seasons with Villanova. Last season,  Armwood started eight of the 32 games he played for the Wildcats, averaging 2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds.

“Isaiah will be a great addition to our program,” Lonergan said. “Although he won’t be able to play for us this season, his experience, leadership and work ethic in practice will be very beneficial to our team.”

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 Updated Aug. 25, 2011, 4:05 p.m.

Former Villanova forward and team captain Isaiah Armwood will join GW on the court, he tweeted late Wednesday night. The move marks the first major transfer to the Colonials since head coach Mike Lonergan took the reins of the program and brings a former Big East player to the sidelines of the Smith Center.

Per NCAA regulations, Armwood will sit out the upcoming season, but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

When reached for comment, sports information spokesperson Jesse Hooker said the athletics department had no statement regarding transfers at this time.

The 6-foot-9, 210-pound Armwood made seven starts in 31 appearances last season, averaging 2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds and earning a .491 field goal percentage. He posted an overall average of 17 minutes per game.

The Wildcats finished the season with a 21-12 overall record, falling in first round of the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament to South Florida, a contest where Armwood did not score but grabbed two rebounds before fouling out. Villanova also traveled to the second round of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, where they fell to George Mason. Armwood played five minutes in that game, recording zero points and rebounds.

Armwood’s decision to leave Villanova was announced earlier this month, when CBS Sports reported that the forward was looking for an opportunity to find a men’s basketball program where he could shine and play a major role. At the time, GW, Maryland, Iowa and Texas Tech were reported as being in the mix for Armwood. A Baltimore-native, the forward also spoke of familiarity with two of the Colonials new assistant coaches. Pete Strickland recruited Armwood out of high school when he was at North Carolina State and Kevin Sutton was a familiar high school opponent for the forward while the head coach at Montverde Academy.

Armwood’s addition to the roster is the latest in a series of changes for the Colonials, who saw former head coach Karl Hobbs depart at the end of last season, replaced by Lonergan and his staff. He’ll join a program looking to re-establish itself as a basketball powerhouse, as GW come off its best season in the past four years, where Hobbs lead the team to a 17-14 overall record, tying for fourth place in the Atlantic 10.

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Junior guard Tony Taylorand Head Coach Karl Hobbs shake hands during Saturday's win 82-64 win over Bowie State. Anne Wernikoff | Photo Editor

Before his team’s season began, men’s basketball coach Karl Hobbs outlined what he thought his team needed to do to be successful this season. A higher shooting percentage, shooting more threes and averaging somewhere around 75 points per game as a team would all be crucial, Hobbs said, if his team was going to compete this season.

GW more than met those requirements Saturday afternoon in its first game of the season, a 82-64 win in an exhibition game over Division II Bowie State at the Smith Center.

The Colonials shot an impressive 52.5 percent from the floor against the Bulldogs and shot just over 30 percent from behind the three-point line. GW scored 42 of its points in the paint and 23 off turnovers. All but one starter for the Colonials scored in double figures.

“I think the biggest success is that I thought we were able to get easier shots,” Hobbs said of his team’s offensive performance. “We took a good number of threes. I thought some of them weren’t the good variety, but the fact is we got them up and that’s one of the things that we talked about, being a better three-point shooting team.”

GW was led by sophomore guard Tim Johnson, who came off the bench to score a career-high 19 points against the Bulldogs. Johnson, who averaged just over 10 minutes per game last season, played more than double that Saturday. He said he was happy to be able to get into a rhythm, especially in the second half when he scored 12 of his 19 points.

“It’s not about my minutes I’m playing, but what I’m doing with them, just trying to put a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm to help my team out,” Johnson said. “A lot of the points I scored was because of my teammates, the way they’re cutting, the way we’re executing our plays. It was great.”

Hobbs said he was particularly pleased with the sophomore’s shot selection and with his energy off the bench.

“It was really encouraging, particularly the threes. He took four threes and he made three of them. He’s been shooting the ball extremely well,” Hobbs said. “He played with a lot of energy, a lot of poise and he played with great confidence. That’s the thing that he has to give us when he comes into the game is his energy and his athleticism and I’m very pleased with what he contributed today.”

The game was not without its difficulties for the Colonials, who gave up 16 turnovers in the loss, a number that Hobbs said was troubling against a team like Bowie State but would be more acceptable in a more fast-paced game. Fouls also proved to be an issue for GW, especially for junior point guard Tony Taylor, who was whistled twice in the first three minutes of the game and had to be taken out.

Taylor, the team’s starting point guard, shared the back court for much of the game with sophomore Bryan Bynes and freshman Dan Guest, a strategy Hobbs has said he hopes will allow Taylor more scoring opportunities. After getting off to a slow start because of his foul trouble, Taylor rebounded to score 13 points.

“I was a little disappointed with the early fouls for him because he knows that puts tremendous amounts of pressure on us when he gets into early foul trouble like that,” Hobbs said of Taylor. “I thought once he kind of warmed up and the pace of the game sort of picked up, I was very pleased. I thought he played much, much better in the second half.”

Another bright spot for the Colonials was the play of freshman Nemanja Mikic, who played a team-high 31 minutes and started in the place of sophomore Lasan Kromah, who sat out the game with a minor toe injury and should be ready to play Nov. 16 against Boston University.

Mikic had 11 points against the Bulldogs and was three of six from behind the three-point line. He also grabbed six rebounds and had two steals in his Smith Center debut. Hobbs said the minutes Mikic saw against Bowie State weren’t an aberration and that he expects the Serbian freshman to be a significant contributor this season.

“I really wanted to give him a great deal of minutes today because I’m really trying to get him ready for what’s to come and I’m trying to figure him out a little bit too,” Hobbs said. “I’m just trying to get a sense of how well can he play when he’s tired. Is he still gonna rebound when he’s tired? And today, he most certainly did pass the test…I’m hoping to play him those kind of minutes this year.”

GW will be in action again Nov. 16 for the first game of the NIT Season Tip-Off hosted by Villanova. Game time for the Colonials’ regular season opener is set for 8 p.m.

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