Head coach Mike Bozeman’s young GW women’s basketball team had held the lead for only 57 seconds all game in Tuesday’s match-up at North Texas before 5-foot-3 freshman guard Danni Jackson hit two free throws to give the team a one-point lead with 1:25 to play. After the Mean Green tied it back up, sophomore center Sara Mostafa scored on her own put-back with 30 seconds left, only to have North Texas tie the score once again.
Then, with three seconds on the clock, freshman Shi-Heria Shipp converted a layup to break the tie and give the Colonials a thrilling 84-82 win in Denton, Texas to begin their season.
Five Colonials (1-0) scored in double-figures, with Mostafa’s career-high 17 leading the way. The 6-foot-5 center also grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked eight shots to finish two blocks shy of a triple-double.
GW’s other double-digit scorers were Jackson (12 points), Shipp (11), freshman Megan Nipe (11), and sophomore Tara Booker (10).
“Our contributions throughout the team indicate the skill and talent that we have,” Bozeman said after the game. “It just happens to be youthful talent.”
Booker, the team’s top returning scorer from last year, came off the bench, where a lingering meniscus injury had kept her.
“If I didn’t have to use her tonight, I wouldn’t have,” Bozeman. “She’s so huge to this team. She comes in for 18 minutes and gets 10 points and five rebounds on one leg, basically.”
In Booker’s place, redshirt freshman Brooke Wilson got the start and finished with eight points and six rebounds on four-of-eight shooting.
The Colonials, who did not play a preseason exhibition game but did play scrimmages against nationally ranked Pittsburgh and VCU, found themselves in an early hole and were down by 11 points twice in the first half before cutting the Mean Green’s lead to one at halftime. Down 25-14, GW went on a 21-11 run to close out the half with some key plays by freshmen Shipp, Nipe and Jackson.
North Texas’ lead ballooned back to 11 points – 67-56 – more than halfway through the second half, but the Colonials displayed their resiliency with a prolonged stretch of strong play in which they outscored the Mean Green 28-15 to put themselves in position to get the win.
Despite shooting 45 percent from the floor and out-rebounding the Mean Green by three, Bozeman said he thought his team was going to play differently.
“I was expecting for us to perform more like we performed in the last five minutes of the game,” he said.
After an up-and-down road win to start the year, Bozeman spoke highly of his players.
“They’re tough. It’s fun to coach them,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to some good things.”
The Colonials play their first home game of the season Thursday night against Coppin State at 7 p.m.