As the women’s basketball team walked off the court at Saint Louis Saturday night, it was leaving with something more than a victory. The Colonials were walking away having proved what head coach Mike Bozeman articulated throughout the teams’ recent struggles: They were fighters.
With a 49-36 win over Saint Louis, GW (7-15, 2-6 Atlantic 10) had just snapped its 15-game losing streak on the road, a slide that dated back to last season. The important milestone came just one game after a victory over Rhode Island that ended a program-worst 11-game losing streak. The two commanding back-to-back wins were evidence of what head coach Mike Bozeman had been preaching all along: His team was not about to give up.
“It’s an incredible statement to the endurance of the girls,” Bozeman said after Saturday’s win. “To stick together and get through it is huge for us.”
Sophomore guard Danni Jackson and junior guard Tiana Myers were the offensive catalysts early on for the Colonials, combining to post GW’s first 21 points against the Billikens. Jackson finished the night with 11 points and Myers finished with 13 points of her own.
The contributions of Myers and Jackson paled though in comparison to junior forward Tara Booker, who drained three baskets from behind the three-point line to end the first half, and continued her contributions in the second. Booker posted 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for her third double-double this season. It was the kind of contribution that Booker, once a go-to scorer for the Colonials, has struggled to recreate this season. Her resurgence Saturday night was yet another example of the fighting spirit Bozeman sees in his team.
“She’s trying to adjust to every team realizing she’s our main shooter,” Bozeman said. “Danni [Jackson] did a great job getting her the ball where she’s most effective. She carried us in the second half. It was great for her confidence as we go forward.”
GW also stepped up its effort defensively, limiting Saint Louis to just 24 percent shooting from the field, continuing a trend during which the Colonials haven’t allowed an opponent to shoot better than 30 percent in six of their last seven halves.
Their defensive strength was especially important in the second half when the Colonials made just four field goals. GW’s ability to keep Saint Louis from the basket, combined with points earned from the charity stripe, kept the Colonials on top in the second.
“The fatigue factor is definitely affecting us in the second, and it’s my job to figure out a way to get these guys more rest,” Bozeman said. “I think what we’ve been doing now is switching our defenses a lot, so we’re keeping offenses off balance.”
Whatever formula Bozeman has designed, it seems to be working, and the Colonials will look to earn their third-straight win Wednesday night on the road against Charlotte at 7 p.m.
“I have to give credit to the girls. They hang in there, believe in each other, and believe in the system,” he said. “Around the conference we present a tough test for teams, if we stay healthy.”