When the women’s basketball team finished play against UT-Arlington Sunday, the Colonials’ defense had only given up 41 points. By halftime Wednesday, Morgan State had already scored 40.
The Colonials (1-1) couldn’t find a consistent rhythm on either side of the ball Wednesday, losing their home opener 73-68 to Morgan State. The offense struggled to connect on wide open looks, and GW had no answer for the deep shooting of the Lady Bears, who finished 11-21 from behind the arc.
“Defending the three definitely didn’t work,” head coach Mike Bozeman said. “If you look at stats, the thing that jumps out at you is 11 for 21 from three. We have to guard that, and for some reason there was a lot of times we didn’t do that.”
GW entered the game with a size advantage, as Morgan State has only two players standing over six feet tall on their roster. But from the start of the game when the Colonials lost the opening tip, GW struggled to capitalize off its height advantage. The Colonials tried to utilize senior center Sara Mostafa on the low post, but faced immediate double teams that limited Mostafa to three of eight shooting with three turnovers in the first half.
As the Colonials struggled in the paint early, Morgan State went on a 17-7 run to open play, highlighted by three shots from behind the arc. Bozeman, who has emphasized the need to keep Mostafa from facing multiple defenders in the paint, stated that positioning was the problem Wednesday. Adding to GW’s offensive struggles is the loss of senior guard Kristin Aldridge, sidelined with concussion symptoms after sustaining a blow during GW’s exhibition match against UDC, Bozeman said.
“Tonight we just did not execute the offense the way it’s designed to run, and I’ll take that [blame],” Bozeman said. “Our post position was not in the proper spacing alignments that would at least make the kick out pass a lot easier. That’s what that offense is designed to do. Tonight we didn’t get in that proper position.”
GW missed open layups in transition, created by a tough press. Senior forward Tara Booker, junior forward Megan Nipe and junior guard Danni Jackson finished a combined 12 for 36 from the field, and GW entered halftime trailing 40-34.
“I couldn’t tell you how many layups we missed,” Bozeman said. “We were 28 for 73, 38 percent for the game. We shot it terrible in the first half and worse in the second half. Definitely an off shooting night.”
Despite leading in almost every statistical category except shooting percentage, the Colonials’ woes continued into the second half, where Morgan State led by as much as 15.
“They made some shots that we weren’t expecting them to make at times,” said redshirt junior forward Brooke Wilson, who contributed 17 points and seven rebounds. “Sometimes they fall, sometimes they don’t.
The Colonials went on a 15-3 run over a seven-minute span towards the end of the second half, narrowing the deficit to three points in the final 35 seconds of play. But GW found itself in foul trouble, and Morgan State continued to make free throws to put the game out of reach.
“I don’t really think it was them that was stopping us from getting to the paint, I just think we played really relaxed and not hard or aggressive in the first half,” Jackson said. “We tried to pick it up in the second half when it was kind of too late.”
While Bozeman admitted that his team lacked proper execution tonight, he refused to blame his players for the loss, stating that he would have to work harder in practice to help his team continue to improve.
“It’s a touch frustrating, but a season isn’t made in one victory or lost in one lose,” Bozeman said. “I believe this system is for this team. You can’t get a ‘B’ on a report card and come home with a ‘D’ and the ‘D’ be acceptable. We just saw what you can do in the same system, so it’s not the system.”
The Colonials next take on Virginia Tech Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. in the Smith Center.