Some games are just like a bad day at the office, head coach Mike Bozeman said.
Coming off a commanding 10-point victory over Xavier, the Colonials (11-13) welcomed the Richmond Spiders into the Smith Center on Saturday afternoon, looking to push their overall record back up to .500. But due to an uncharacteristic failure to execute the system, most notably on the offensive end, GW fell behind early and never made the needed adjustments to find a way out of the hole.
In the second half the Colonials never pulled within 10 points of Richmond’s total, ultimately dropping the contest 63-51. Bozeman was not only disappointed with the loss, but also surprised that, despite the solid scouting report and hard work in practice, his team failed to make the game close.
“There’s times when your preparation for a game just doesn’t match the execution in a game,” Bozeman said. “To be totally honest, that’s what disturbs me the most, that we covered everything in practice this week.”
Though it would not be a symbol of the Colonials’ overall offensive performance on the day, the game began with a solid play from senior forward/guard Tara Booker. A strong drive to the paint and a successful layup gave GW a chance for a three-point play right off the bat. Though not complex, Booker’s drive represented the type of offensive determination that the Colonials failed to reproduce throughout the rest of the game.
Following Booker’s basket in the first minute, the Spiders immediately opened up an 8-0 scoring run and hit their first 10 shots. Richmond established a three-point presence early on and GW could not check it, allowing the Spiders seven threes and 53.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Five minutes into the game, the Spiders’ shooting effort and ability to break down the Colonials’ man-to-man defense had given Richmond a 10-point lead.
Eight turnovers, uncharacteristic of GW, hindered the Colonials from breaking down Richmond’s growing lead. Although the Colonials shot 42.9 percent from the field, they made too many mistakes with the ball, and by halftime, the Spiders had accumulated a 13-point advantage.
“It was just becoming one of those games. The girls just couldn’t get in a rhythm no matter what we tried to do,” Bozeman said. “It’s nothing you can change with X’s and O’s. We were just playing bad.”
One highlight for the Colonials came with two minutes and 11 seconds to play in the half when new addition to the team, sophomore forward Jamie Armstrong, checked in for the first time. Hoping to give GW a defensive lift, Armstrong quickly went to work in the paint. She grabbed a steal on her very first defensive sequence and then, with just three seconds to go in the half, she recorded an emphatic block that sent the Spiders scrambling to put up a shot before the buzzer sounded. It was a block similar to the powerful blocks she consistently makes every fall as a member of GW’s volleyball team.
By the end of the game, Armstrong had compiled a total of three blocks and two points, along with a steal. Though she had only practiced with the team once before the game, Armstrong is extremely grateful to have teammates that are willing to help her through all of the adjustments that come with taking the court.
“I was completely nervous but also really excited just to have a chance to help my teammates now. They have all been really good about being supportive and helping me get confident,” said Armstrong.
The second half was almost a mirror image of the first. Despite GW’s 11 total steals and 20 points off of turnovers, the Colonials’ defensive scrappiness was not enough to overcome the scoring power of Richmond. With 11 minutes to go in the game, the Spiders were up by 23.
It was a hole that GW never found its way out of. Although the Colonials shot the ball well – 44 percent from the field in the second half – it was simply not enough to keep the team in the game. GW’s struggles from long range, missing all of their three-point attempts on the day, also contributed to the loss.
Booker, freshman guard Chakecia Miller, and junior forward/guard Megan Nipe all contributed double-digit point totals despite the loss, recording 14, 10 and 10 points, respectively. Bozeman believes his team suffered from a lack of focus. Although they may have recorded decent shooting percentages, he said, GW lacked the attention to detail needed to win any game, never mind a game against a top-five A-10 team.
“There’s times when I feel like I could have put them in a better position to be more successful. I’m always looking in the mirror first,” Bozeman said. “But my instant reaction to that was to tell the guys that we have to decide to come to the game focused and ready to play. I don’t think we did that today.”
But despite what he believes was a poor performance against Richmond, Bozeman is sure that his team will be back to playing focused and confident basketball by their next game.
“We’ll be back, we’ll be better. We’ll play harder,” said Bozeman.
The Colonials travel to Philadelphia Wednesday to face conference rival Temple.