The women’s basketball team took to the court in the Smith Center Tuesday night with a specific goal in mind: avenging last season’s 70-58 road loss to Ohio University.
History didn’t repeat itself for the Colonials, who topped the Bobcats 54-44.
“It was the first time, opportunity, we’ve had to play a team that beat us last year,” head coach Mike Bozeman said. “And it feels good to come out on top on that.”
With revenge on its mind, GW dominated in the first half. The Colonials scored with ease against Ohio before halftime, shooting 44 percent from the floor and going on a 15-0 run over an eight-minute stretch.
The Colonials matched their domineering offensive play with an equally forceful defense. GW blocked five Bobcat shots in the first half and had four steals, while allowing Ohio to shoot just 27.3 percent. Coming out of halftime, GW had a commanding 11-point lead, the result of the control it asserted over the court in the first half, but once the second half began it was Ohio, not the Colonials, that controlled the game, shrinking the GW lead to as little as one.
“Obviously, Ohio wanted to make it a frantic pace,” Bozeman said. “That means we need to up our urgency level in terms of taking shots.”
It was a frustratingly familiar scenario for Bozeman, who had watched his team lose its way in the second half during games earlier this season.
“We lost our composure a little bit,” Bozeman explained. “The coaching staff, namely me. I was glad to get that kind of challenge and see my team respond the way they did. That was pretty good, it was a gut-check time for us.”
GW found its own rhythm as the second half wore on, matching the Bobcats’ intensity and never surrendering the lead it had earned in the first half.
“I think they were able to refocus themselves once Ohio made that run on us,” Bozeman reasoned. “When a team makes a run on you and brings it down to one, at that point in time they have the momentum on their side. So for us to be able to shift that tide. is growth in and of itself.”
Junior Tara Booker lead the Colonials offensively, scoring 19 of GW’s 54 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. For Booker, who was sidelined for much of last year with a knee injury, it was a return to her freshman-year form when she averaged 8.2 points per game and was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team.
“Definitely what I’m working on now is just coming back,” Booker said. “I know Coach Bozeman has a lot of confidence in me as well as the team and the rest of the coaching staff.”
Junior Tiana Myers and sophomore Danni Jackson also had strong nights for the Colonials. Myers scored 12 points and Jackson had seven to go with her seven assists.
“She’s a gifted, quick point guard,” Bozeman said of Jackson, who also missed the bulk of last season with an injury. “For her to have that kind of game and have to bounce back and play a team that’s coming back on us, that was encouraging to me.”
Absent from the GW lineup Tuesday night were juniors Kristin Aldridge and Kye Allums and sophomore Megan Nipe, all of whom were sidelined with injuries. Bozeman said that the return of Allums – who is still suffering the after-effects of a concussion sustained against Coppin State – and Nipe – who has a shoulder injury – would be contingent on physical examinations the pair will undergo within the next few days.
Up next for the Colonials will be a road contest against Marshall Thursday night at 7 p.m. Bozeman said his team will build on its win over the Bobcats as it looks for its first road win of the season against the Thundering Herd.
“Everything is a learning experience. It’s better to learn after a win versus a loss,” Bozeman said. “So we’ll go back and look at the tape, show the tape, show what we should have done, instances where we made mistakes. It’s going to be, it’s an opportunity to grow, and we definitely improved tonight as a team.”