Women’s basketball head coach Mike Bozeman didn’t start sophomore Danni Jackson against Fordham on the road Saturday afternoon as a precaution. Jackson was recovering from a sprained knee, Bozeman thought, so he would bring his usual starting point guard off the bench and make sure that she didn’t overextend herself against the Rams.
But once Jackson came into the game, she made it difficult for Bozeman to take her out. Jackson, who sprained her knee a week ago at home against St. Bonaventure and didn’t play last Wednesday against Dayton, scored 12 points in the first half and provided a spark for the Colonials, who took a 7-point lead into halftime.
“I wanted to play her sparingly, but she came in and she was scorching,” Bozeman said. “It’s almost like that’s fool’s gold, because then you think, ‘Ok, she’s healthy,’ and the kid is not healthy. She’s just playing through pain, and then in the second half it caught up with her.”
Lots of things in the second half seemed to catch up with GW, which shot just 25.9 percent after shooting 50 percent from the floor before halftime. GW led the Rams by as many as 10 points with 8:43 left in the game, but Fordham closed the contest on an 18-5 run to hand GW its ninth-straight loss and its first-ever road loss at Fordham’s Rose Hill Gymnasium by a score of 59-56.
Even after shooting 50 percent worse than they did in the first half of the game, the Colonials (5-13, 0-4 Atlantic 10) still had a chance in the final minute to tie the game, down three with 19 seconds left. Bozeman drew up a play for junior guard Tara Booker, whose three-point attempt missed and went out of bounds off of a Fordham defender.
Bozeman turned to Booker again on the ensuing GW possession, but her shot once again missed its mark. Jackson, who scored just two points in the second half, grabbed the rebound but had the ball stripped from her by the Rams as time expired, a play that left Bozeman shouting at the officials for a foul call even after the buzzer sounded.
The GW head coach, who had five players who were inactive and didn’t dress for Saturday’s game against the Rams, blamed Booker’s late misses and his team’s poor shooting in the second half on fatigue that stemmed from the Colonials short bench.
“We won a lot of the categories on the stat sheet. The one we lost was the score,” Bozeman said. “I’m really feeling for my girls right now. I’m upset about the loss, but they’re giving me what they have… Generally, people only have a 7, 8-minute rotation anyway, but when you’re playing with players who are pushing through injuries, and when they have to go beyond what they physically can do and you can see that they’ve hit a wall and you have nowhere to go, that’s where I feel for them.”
Saturday, GW was without sophomores Shi-Heria Shipp and Megan Nipe, both of whom were out with knee injuries, as well as freshman Erica Chandler, who has a foot fracture, and junior Kristin Aldridge, who separated her shoulder against Dayton last Wednesday. Junior Kye Allums remains out as he recovers from a concussion he sustained earlier this season. Allums, a transgender individual who self-identifies as a male, remains on the women’s basketball team because he remains a biological female.
With five players unable to suit up against the Rams and Jackson still recovering from her own knee sprain, Bozeman said he would adjust his team’s schedule this week in order to give the Colonials a chance to recover both physically and mentally.
“I’m contemplating now, just giving them two-straight days off to try to have them go see the trainers and stay off of their legs as much as possible and try to get some of these people back on the court,” Bozeman said.
GW will try to heal up in time for its next game, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday against Duquesne at the Smith Center. The Colonials will look to stop their current losing streak from reaching double digits and put GW back on the right track.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life, not even witnessing it from another team going through this,” Bozeman said. “But I must say that these girls are playing as hard as they can, and that in and of itself is encouraging.”