Head coach Mike Bozeman is known for his candid quotes. It was ironic, then, that he chose to borrow a phrase from arguably one of the least quotable figures in sports to describe the challenges his team faces with its depleted roster.
“I learned something from the head coach in New England: ‘Everybody’s good,’ ” Bozeman said with a chuckle, referring to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Bozeman’s teams have struggled with injuries for the past three seasons, as one-by-one his players were forced to the sidelines in their warm-up gear by a series of ailments that are classified as freak coincidences at best.
The Colonials were able to dress only six players for Saturday’s game against Dayton, the same number that took the court against Saint Louis Wednesday. But unlike the gutsy win over the Billikens, the Colonials (10-11) couldn’t grab a victory over the Flyers, falling 74-56 Saturday afternoon at the Smith Center.
GW fell behind early in the game, trailing 16-4 just over six minutes into the contest. The team couldn’t recover from the early hole, working all game to overcome its slow start.
“I think the energy was fine. The execution and how we started off from the beginning of the game,” junior point guard Danni Jackson said. “We just dug ourselves deep, and we couldn’t get out of it.”
Usually the team’s offensive firepower, Jackson struggled from the field Saturday, shooting just 3-for-18. She finished the game with nine points, seven rebounds and five assists, but with the bench down to one player, the junior’s most impressive stat was her 40 minutes of playing time.
That high amount of playing time isn’t ideal, and Bozeman knows his team needs to capitalize on the minutes in the game when players are the most rested. Learning to build on those crucial moments, he said, is key in adjusting to the depleted roster.
“What we were talking about in the locker room after the game was the start of the game and the start of both halves,” Bozeman said. “We have to get better in those five-minute spurts in order for us to stay or to capitalize on our quickness and our abilities against these teams.”
The Colonials were outscored by 12 in the paint and bested by 12 on the boards. GW had no answer for Dayton’s dominant presence under the net, particularly guard Andrea Hoover, who dropped 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Flyers, pushing Dayton to its 44.3-percent shooting from the field.
Senior forward/guard Tara Booker lead the team in points, netting 13, and in rebounds, pulling down nine. Junior forward Megan Nipe and senior guard Tiana Myers each added 12 points – Myers falling one point shy of reaching the 1,000-point mark for her career, and freshman guard Chakecia Miller added 10 points of her own. The Colonials closed the day shooting 31.3 percent, unable to capitalize on 19 Dayton turnovers.
The Colonials next head to St. Bonaventure Feb. 4, with tip set for 1 p.m., and the team isn’t ready to give up quite yet, Jackson said.
“I think we need to just keep going to the hot hand. We have a lot of shooters on the team, especially with these six, everyone can score,” Jackson said.