After one half of play in its game against George Mason Sunday, the women’s basketball team had surrendered nine turnovers, shot just 27 percent and as a result was down 13 points. Head coach Mike Bozeman knew he had to motivate his team to come out stronger in the second half, as well as make some strategic adjustments if his team was to have any hope of cutting into the 30-17 Patriot lead.
“It’s funny because the frustration was building on both sides,” Bozeman. “So when I came into the room, I just told them in a very calm manner that players win games. I can put all the Xs and Os, all the schemes in place that we want to, but in the end, players are gonna win games, not coaches. So I sat down and let them have an opportunity to speak to each other. I think they took ownership, they decided they were gonna play hard, play GW basketball, and that’s what they did.”
Sophomore point guard Danni Jackson was the initial catalyst for the GW comeback that culminated in a 67-58 win. After cutting the lead to seven on a mid-range jumper, Jackson stole the ball on the next possession, hit a layup, got fouled and made the free throw, cutting the lead to four at 32-28 early in the second half.
“We fed off each other, and we just played hard in the second half, harder than we did in the first half,” Jackson said.
With just over 11 minutes to play, junior Sara Mostafa hit a jumper in the low post, and Kye Allums hit two free throws on the next possession to tie the game at 41. Minutes later, Allums hit a contested three-pointer to give GW (4-3) the lead at 44-43, its first lead since the 14:58 mark of the first half.
For the rest of the game, the offense clicked as well as it has all season. GW shot 64 percent from the floor after halftime, scoring 50 points, a season-high for points in a single half this season.
“This team is capable of that, we have that kind of talent,” Bozeman said. “I learned some more lessons about how they can take ownership. And now once they’ve done that, it’s like school. Once you show your parents you can get an A, now you gotta get an A. B won’t do, a C won’t do. That’s where we’re gonna go from here, we’re gonna try to duplicate that second-half effort for 40 minutes.”
Jackson and Allums each joined Myers in double figures for the Colonials Sunday. Jackson had 17 and Allums had 10 points in the win, and GW had season-highs in field-goal percentage and free throws made.
“I think that in the second half we fed off each other,” junior guard Tiana Myers, who finished with 18 points, said. “Once we went on that run, we kept getting baskets, we started feeding off each other. The adrenaline was rushing, and we stuck together.”
Up next for the Colonials is a road game against Old Dominion Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Upbeat after his team’s comeback win, Bozeman said he was looking forward to turning Sunday’s second half into a complete game.
“Let’s do it again,” Bozeman said. “Let’s do it for two halves in a row.”