In a game where inconsistency was the overwhelming theme, the only constant was the end result. GW beat Duquesne at the Smith Center for the 22nd straight time Saturday afternoon, this time by a score of 85-82.
The game started off well for the Colonials (11-8, 3-1 Atlantic 10), who began the contest with a 17-4 run in the first seven minutes and led by as many as 22 during the first half. Entering halftime leading by 18, they seemed poised to clinch a blowout victory against a conference rival and run their win streak to a season-best four games. Duquesne had other plans.
The Dukes chipped away at the lead throughout the second half, turning up the intensity on defense to the tune of eight steals, aided by better shooting both inside and outside the arc.
“We just tried to be disruptive, tried to play a little faster than they’re used to playing and just try to create off of our defense,” Duquesne head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. “I think we just came out in the beginning of the game and just weren’t hitting shots, and I think our confidence level dropped offensively, defensively.”
GW recovered, keeping their lead around 10 for much of the second half. It wasn’t until the game’s final minute that Duquesne really threatened, closing the lead to three before ultimately missing a final three-point attempt with one second left, running its record to 0-22 in the Smith Center.
The Colonials were led by senior center Jessica Adair, who was dominant inside, especially early in the game. The 6-foot-4 center finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but struggled when the Dukes utilized double and even triple teams to contain her during much of the second half.
The Dukes’ biggest contribution came from their smallest player, 5-foot-4 senior Kristi Little, who scored 29 points, including nine in the final minute-and-a-half that helped shrink the Colonials’ lead.
“She’s a gutsy player,” GW head coach Mike Bozeman said of Little after the game. “She offers that grit, she’s never gonna give up. You can see her willing her team back into the game . She’s not afraid to go in there with the big girls.”
This four-game streak is a welcome turnaround for the Colonials, who struggled earlier in the season. The team dropped four in a row before beginning their run of victories, three of which were to nonconference opponents. For Bozeman, the current streak is a sign of his team coming together.
“I think we’ve just grown together. You know, anytime you have change, there’s gonna be some adjustment period, and I think I might have underestimated the effects of that,” Bozeman said, referring to the loss of former coach Joe McKeown and his own subsequent hiring.
“But I couldn’t be happier with our progression now, with where we are as a team, as a unit, as a basketball family,” he continued. “We’re all bonding together. They understand me, I understand them.”
The Colonials will look to continue their stretch of strong play Wednesday when they travel to Dayton. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.