As the shot clock ticked down on the play Sunday, redshirt junior forward Brooke Wilson launched a long jump shot and watched it fall through the net.
The basket broke through three minutes of play without a GW score, and pulled the Colonials within one point with a minute and 16 seconds left in the game. But Massachusetts kept control for the next minute of play, keeping GW from scoring again.
The Colonials (11-15) ultimately fell to the Minutewomen 56-53, extending GW’s losing streak to three, while snapping Massachusetts’ nine-game losing streak. The loss handed the Minutewomen their first home victory since Dec. 11 and just their second A-10 win. And as the team prepared to return to Foggy Bottom, head coach Mike Bozeman didn’t think it was a loss in which his team played its hardest.
“This was not a good overall effort for the entire 40 minutes,” Bozeman said.
GW’s bench play continued to plague the team Sunday. Despite dressing nine players, an increase from the six the Colonials were forced to play with earlier in the season, the bench contributed just three points on the day.
The lack of production from the roster, Bozeman said, has roots in the Colonials lacking a solid offensive rhythm. Substitutions in the lineup make it hard to create a consistent game plan, a challenge that sometimes halts GW’s play on the court.
“We’re trying to play [the once-injured players] back into the fold,” Bozeman said. “We’re trying to get a rhythm with this team overall.”
As the game began, neither team was able to establish a clear advantage, both GW and the Minutewomen unable to lead by more than five points over the first 15 minutes of play. But Massachusetts exploded on a late run in the first, tallying a 14-3 spurt that gave it an 11-point lead with 40 seconds left.
It was a lot of ground to make up before the break, but the Colonials did their best to close the gap, scoring the final three points before the half. Still, GW entered halftime down eight, crippled by the Minutewomen’s 50 percent shooting and the Colonials’ inability to have the same success at the net, shooting just 37.5 in the half.
“That’s part of the problem with so much of the valuable injuries that we had,” Bozeman said, reflecting on the team’s struggles.
The Colonials weren’t able to immediately regain ground out of the break, remaining in a seven-point hole four minutes into the second, when senior guard Tiana Myers helped jump start an 11-2 GW scoring run, adding six points on her own. It was a boost that gave the Colonials a two-point lead, their first of the game, but one that wasn’t enough to cement a victory.
The teams traded baskets over the final minutes of the game, before Wilson’s basket, and GW’s ensuing failure to convert on five chances, wrapped up play.
In the end, the Colonials had no answer for the Minutewomen’s 45.1 percent shooting on the game. Though GW was able to limit Massachusetts’ success at the basket in the second, the Colonials’ errors kept them from truly asserting dominance. Despite earning a slim advantage on boards, 36-33, GW turned the ball over 14 times. While Massachusetts had an almost equal 15 turnovers on the game, as the team with less successful shooting, the Colonials could ill afford sloppy play.
“There were spurts where we got back into the game and took the lead. We would get a steal and dribble the ball off our foot,” Bozeman said. “Or we would get a steal and a turnover after.”
It was senior forward/guard Tara Booker who truly battled to pace the Colonials. Hitting shots from all over the floor, she earned her third double-double of the season, matching her season-high with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
“Tara carried us all night,” Bozeman said. “Rebounds are effort so you cannot question Tara’s effort. She gave us a great boost.”
The Colonials next return to Foggy Bottom and prepare to host La Salle, looking to snap their losing skid. The game is “winnable,” Bozeman said, and he didn’t anticipate the holes in GW’s play carrying over to its next contest.
“I don’t think it’s anything that we are going to carry over to next game. I’m looking forward to ourselves bouncing back on Wednesday against La Salle,” Bozeman said.