Generally speaking, mid-February matchups between teams from the bottom half of the Atlantic 10 are not notable. At this point in the season, the beginning of the season is barely visible in the rear-view mirror, and the excitement of March’s postseason play is just appearing on the horizon.
Still, the GW women’s basketball team’s 74-50 loss at St. Bonaventure Saturday was significant, marking an unceremonious end of an era for the Colonials, who for the first time in 19 years will finish this season with a losing record in conference play.
Saturday’s loss to the Bonnies followed almost identically the pattern of many of GW’s (5-18, 2-8 A-10) defeats from this season. The Colonials hung with their more experienced hosts for the first half, trailing by 10 for much of the period but managing to keep themselves in the game.
As has previously been the case this season, the second half proved to be the undoing of the young GW team. St. Bonaventure went on a 12-0 run early in the second half to put the Colonials away for good.
For head coach Mike Bozeman, it was the maturity of St. Bonaventure, and his team’s lack of it, that led to the defeat.
“I think their maturity started to get us a little bit, I thought their experience played a major role in it,” Bozeman said of St. Bonaventure. “I would say that was probably not our best effort… That was the biggest difference, I thought, was the experience.”
Youth and inexperience have been a problem for GW all season long. Unlike the program’s veteran-heavy teams of the past, these Colonials have been plagued by injuries that have stripped the team of much of the little experience it had to begin with. The end result has been a GW team comprised exclusively of freshmen and sophomores. In some games the team played with as few as seven active players.
Even with the loss, GW still finds itself in decent position to make a run at a berth in the 12-team A-10 tournament as the Colonials are currently in a three-way tie for 10th place.
Bozeman said that as the season begins to wind down, the possibility of postseason play is a powerful tool for him to use to keep his team motivated despite their struggles.
“That’s the goal,” Bozeman said. “That’s always been the goal, to do what we need to do to get in the best position for the Atlantic 10 conference tournament… we get into the tournament, and it’s anybody’s game then. Who’s to say we can’t run off a good streak?”
The next two games will be crucial for the Colonials’ chances for a berth in the tournament, which will be held in nearby Upper Marlboro, Md. The team will have this week off before hosting Fordham Saturday at the Smith Center, one of just two teams in the conference with a worse record than GW.
Three days later, the Colonials will host Saint Louis, one of the two teams with which they are tied. With such important contests coming up and a laundry list of troubles so far this season, Bozeman said he was confident that the team’s worst play is behind it.
“I don’t think anything can happen to us that hasn’t happened this year,” Bozeman said. “We got caught in the blizzards, we had to walk to the [Duquesne] game in snow, we’ve had a ton of injuries, lost three starters to injury, people had to play out of position. There’s nothing that should ruffle our feathers right now.”
Saturday’s game against Fordham is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Smith Center.