UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – With just under 12 seconds left in the second half of GW’s first-round Atlantic 10 tournament game against Duquesne Friday, the Colonials had a chance to break a tie score with a game-winning basket. After catching the inbound pass, sophomore Tiana Myers took her time with her dribble and waited for the play to develop.
In a precursor to what was to come, GW could not take advantage of such an opportunity, as Duquesne defender Vanessa Abel stripped Myers of the ball, which bounced off Myers’ leg and out of bounds.
The game eventually headed to overtime, where the 11th-seeded Colonials again had chances to upset the sixth-seeded Dukes, but they came up short, narrowly losing 61-58 to end their season.
Despite scoring just three points in the overtime period, GW (6-22) again found itself with a prime opportunity to go ahead in the closing seconds. Down one with 12 seconds to go in overtime, Myers, redshirt freshman Brooke Wilson and freshman Shi-Heria Shipp all missed shots in a six-second span.
Duquesne’s Carly Vendemia came up with the rebound off Shipp’s miss and was fouled, making both free throws to give the Dukes their three-point margin of victory.
Even with the missed opportunities, head coach Mike Bozeman had high praise for his team after the defeat.
“I wouldn’t take anything back from how they played tonight other than the final score,” Bozeman said. “We make a layup or two, we’re right there… I’m as proud of these guys as any basketball players I’ve ever coached before.”
GW was forced to play the overtime period without its starting center, sophomore Sara Mostafa, who fouled out of the game as she battled for a rebound with 14 seconds left in regulation. Mostafa finished with 14 points and seven rebounds and Bozeman said her presence was missed when she couldn’t return to the floor.
Asked about the foul calls on Mostafa, Bozeman laughed as he hesitated to comment before settling on a carefully crafted answer.
“It was tough losing Sara,” he said. “I think down near the end we could have used her on some of those rebound put-backs.”
The loss was the culmination of a season that has seen the Colonials endure a fair share of adversity. Three starters – redshirt junior Ivy Abiona, sophomore Tara Booker and freshman Danni Jackson – missed all or nearly all of the season with injuries. This left GW with just eight players – five freshmen and three sophomores – many of whom had to endure pains of their own.
Freshman Megan Nipe was one of those players, coming back from surgery to repair her ACL last April to play in all 28 of GW’s games this season. She finished her first year by matching her career high, leading all scorers Friday with 18 points and tying for the game high with nine rebounds.
“People don’t realize that this kid’s been playing on one leg all year. They’re always talking about the kids that are out for the season, but the tougher kid on the team is right here to my right,” Bozeman said in the press conference, gesturing toward Nipe. “Big-time shots, big-time plays, big-time rebounds… To be able to walk on the court today is amazing to me after all she’s been through this year.”
With his current roster set to return next season in addition to the players coming back from injuries, Bozeman said he was encouraged by his young team’s growth and progress this season and expects it to pay dividends down the line.
“I’m excited about where we’re going with the future of GW women’s basketball,” he said. “I wish we could have represented it with a record that is in a better way this year, but I think everyone will be excited once they see what we put on the court next year.”