The GW women’s basketball team staggered into its game Tuesday night against Rhode Island looking for its first conference win after losing three straight and 11 of its last 12. The Colonials (3-11, 0-2 Atlantic 10) got little sympathy from the Rams, however, as Rhode Island jumped on GW early and never trailed in its 59-51 win.
The game opened poorly for the Colonials, who allowed the Rams to open the game on a 12-2 run. GW matched Rhode Island with a run of its own mid-way through the first half to close the Rams’ lead to three with just over six minutes left in the half. Rhode Island responded with five straight points from junior guard Megan Shoniker that included a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to regrow the Rams’ lead to 26-18 before a GW timeout at the 4:41 mark.
The Colonials closed the gap to three once more with three and a half minutes remaining in the first half, but the Rams answered again, holding GW scoreless for the rest of the half to enter halftime with a 30-23 lead that Rhode Island protected for the entire second half, never allowing the Colonials to come closer than five points.
GW had three players in double figures. Sophomore Tiana Myers led the team with 14 points, while sophomore Sara Mostafa and freshman Shi-Heria Shipp had 12 and 13, respectively. Rhode Island’s Shoniker led all scorers with 20 points.
Head coach Mike Bozeman pointed after the game to fatigue and a short bench as factors in his team’s inability to close the gap when it had the chance. Even more than that, Bozeman said his young team needs to avoid getting beat-down emotionally by what has been, up to this point, a difficult season.
“At this point in time, there’s a certain level of toughness that has to come from the players, and that’s the one ingredient I think we’re missing right now,” Bozeman said. “You can get used to losing like you can get used to winning, so that’s what we’re fighting against right now.”
The schedule won’t get any easier for Bozman and GW, either. After a home date Saturday against Charlotte, the Colonials will face a 12-win Richmond team on the road followed by a tough nonconference match-up against Villanova, a team that has already beaten three other Atlantic 10 opponents this season by a combined 29 points.
“We have to stay as positive as possible. I can’t have myself or my coaching staff come to practice and just scream and yell. No, we’re not doing that. We’re creating a positive atmosphere, one conducive for them to be encouraged as opposed to browbeating them. Anything that could be said to them, believe me it’s been said.”
Staying positive, Bozeman said, has been tough even for him.
“I’m going to tell you, it’s one of the most challenging situations, basketball-wise, that I’ve ever been in,” Bozeman said. “It’s challenging me in ways that it’s causing me to dig deep into my bag of tricks to try to motivate. That’s the biggest thing.”
Bozeman said his team still has time to save its season.
“It’s too early, it’s real early,” Bozeman said. “There’s no giving up in the staff, I just got to make sure these girls aren’t. They feel bad, as bad as I feel right now, they feel like that too. They know that we’re in this together.”
Next up for GW is Charlotte, this Saturday at the Smith Center. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.