With one minute and 36 seconds remaining in overtime of the Colonials match against Old Dominion, senior forward Tara Booker spotted up for a three pointer with her team trailing by one point.
Booker, who finished 4-for-8 from behind the arc, hadn’t hit a field goal in over 24 minutes.
“I heard my coach telling me to shoot it,” Booker said. “With shooting, it becomes a rhythm, and if you’re in the rhythm of the game and the pace – and we had so much momentum going into that – that as soon as it left my hand, I knew I was going to hit it.”
As the three-ball glided through the net, the Colonials bench erupted in celebration, and Old Dominion watched its lead slip away for good. GW (3-3) managed to hang on to win 58-52, completing a dramatic come-from-behind victory as the Colonials put together consecutive wins for the first time since Feb. 5 of last season.
The Colonials trailed by as much as 10 points, with just over 10 minutes to play in the second half, before closing out the second half on a 13-3 run to force overtime.
“It proves to us that we can actually pull it out,” Booker said. “We played a terrible first half, to say the least, and it proves that we can come back and progress after such a deficit that we had in the first half.”
After a 46.7-percent shooting night against Radford the previous week, when GW posted a season-high 83 points, the Colonials struggled to find a consistent rhythm on offense against Old Dominion, going just 8-for-32 from the floor in the first half.
Only three Colonials managed to score in the first, and Booker, who had a double-double and 13 points by halftime, kept GW within two points after draining a three right before the half.
“She was huge,” head coach Mike Bozeman said. “She had a double-double in the first half. But even more than that, she didn’t stop rebounding. Even when her scoring didn’t come, she kept rebounding. She finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds. That’s huge. That’s [power forward and center for the New York Knicks] Amar’e Stoudamire-type numbers.”
GW’s struggles shooting the ball continued in the second half, the team missing wide open shots and allowing the Lady Monarchs to extend their lead by as much as 10. Working to jumpstart his stalling team, Bozeman shifted from a zone defense to a full court press midway through the second half.
“I think that was the turning point in the game, once he put that hard press on,” junior guard Danni Jackson said. “We forced them into a lot of turnovers right off the bat and scored off it. I thought that was really the turning point, and our energy just picked up from there.”
Jackson hit a three-pointer with 6:43 to play, narrowing the deficit to six points, and the Colonials’ defense went on to force four turnovers in the remaining minutes of the second. In addition to adding 17 points, Jackson was a defensive catalyst for the Colonials in the backcourt, tallying three crucial steals and forcing the Monarchs into several bad passes with her pressure.
Senior center Sara Mostafa, who missed her first six shots of the night, netted one of the most important baskets of the night, grabbing an offensive rebound with 22 seconds remaining and scoring her only points of the night on the put back to force overtime.
Booker finished with a career-high 17 rebounds and season-high 17 points, while freshman forward Chakecia Miller added a career-high 14 points for the Colonials.
“[Miller] made some great defensive plays,” Bozeman said. “She’s fully capable and tonight I felt very comfortable with her on the floor, and I couldn’t take her off the floor because I needed that energy.”
Citing improved depth on the bench as one of the biggest factors for the Colonials win, Bozeman cycled through 10 different players in the first 12 minutes of the game.
The Colonials next take on Maine in the Navy Classic in Annapolis, Md., Dec. 2.