Bozeman baffled by women’s first-round flop

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After the fifth-seeded women’s basketball team’s 62-58 loss to the 12th-seeded University of Rhode Island Friday afternoon in the first round of the Atlantic 10, typically verbose head coach Mike Bozeman had little to say.

“I’m pretty much at a loss for words in description of my team’s performance,” Bozeman said, speaking slowly and appearing visibly dejected after a defeat that may end his team’s season. “I’m a little frustrated at my inability to get them to maximize the potential of this team.”

Friday’s game seemed like a fitting conclusion to a season filled with games just like this one. The Colonials (17-13) came out flat offensively to start the game, failing to score a point until roughly five minutes into the first half. Rhode Island’s own offensive struggles allowed GW to stay in the game despite their early struggle to put points on the board. Once they discovered their offenses, the two teams traded baskets back and forth, entering halftime tied at 27.

The Colonials immediately took hold of the game in the second half, leading by as many as six at the 15 minute mark of the second half. The lead didn’t last long for GW, as the team quickly allowed the Rams to go on a 12-0 run that turned a five-point Colonial advantage into a seven-point deficit in just over four minutes.

GW managed to close the gap with a Jessica Adair layup, tying the game with less than two and a half minutes to play, but Rhode Island closed the door in the final minutes.

The loss was, by any objective measure, an upset. GW was the highest-seeded team to play in the first round and the Rams were the worst team to qualify for the tournament, entering the game with a 9-20 record overall, including a dismal 2-12 in the conference’s regular season. Rhode Island lost to Richmond 64-48 the following day.

Bozeman described the final two minutes of the game with visible frustration, rubbing his forehead as he explained how his team squandered what would be their final opportunity to win the game and move on in the tournament.

“The epitome of our season,” he said. “We come down, we got Antelia with the ball, with one defender with Jessica Adair. Exactly, if I could script it for the movie, action-packed movie, I would have Antelia starring in a supporting role for the star of Jessica Adair on the block with one defender who is helplessly back there, just to maybe give us an and-one. No. Try to do too much with it, lose the ball, I get another senior get the ball. A senior gets the ball. Jumps up, begging for a foul, throws the ball out of bounds. Epitome of our season.”

Perhaps the only player who showed up for Friday’s game in her usual form was Adair, who led the team with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Only freshman Tara Booker, who scored 13, joined Adair in double figures.

For Adair, who is a senior, the game likely marked her final appearance in a GW uniform, barring an invitation to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, which would be announced March 16. With tears in her eyes following the game, the usually reserved Adair said that putting up big numbers in such a dramatic loss was little consolation.

“I came out and played hard,” she said. “I wanted to make a run in this tournament, and I know that me, as a leader, captain of this team, I would have to come out and play hard and that’s what I tried to do, put everybody on my shoulders and bring them along.”

After beating the Rams at the Smith Center in early February, Bozeman talked about his team needing to give “the maximum type of effort” in order to win games. After the loss Friday, Bozeman again pointed to desire as the deciding factor in the game.

“I think the difference today was us,” he said. “They didn’t show anything different … I just thought Rhode Island wanted it more than we did.”

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