The Colonials dominated Morgan State on both sides of the ball and won comfortably, 75-40, Wednesday night.
The Colonials (4-2) entered the game boasting the best scoring defense in the Atlantic 10 Conference but a struggling offense. GW jumped out to an early lead by focusing on good shot selection and close looks at the basket. The Colonials were playing efficiently on offense, and their defense frustrated the Bears and forced many mistakes.
“We did a really good job of executing. We established ourselves in the paint,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “From an overall standpoint, it was our best performance. We were able to execute in the half court and transition. And we did not let the opponent get comfortable on offense.”
The Colonials ended the first half on a 19-2 run. GW entered the half leading 44-14 on 50 percent shooting while Morgan State was held to 22.6 percent shooting. GW’s defensive pressure shutdown the Morgan State offensive attack in the first half of play by forcing 14 turnovers. Morgan State’s 14 first half points were the fewest by a GW opponent in a half so far this season.
“We relied on good man to man defense in the half court,” Tsipis said. “Our press helped us out as well, but you can press most effectively when you are putting the ball into the basket on offense.”
While the Colonials were efficient on offense, no single player dominated. Rather, the Colonials relied on a balanced attack to beat the Bears defense. Senior forward Megan Nipe led GW with 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting. While Nipe was solid from the field, her greatest impact came from drawing fouls. Her six made free throws were as many as the entire Morgan State team attempted. Senior guard Danni Jackson chipped 11 points and seven assists on 5-for-8 shooting and grad student Tara Booker added 11 points of her own from the guard position.
“This is the best we have executed our plays in a game,” Nipe said. “We really knew what we were doing today.”
Grad student Brook Wilson was scratched from the lineup after injuring her knee against Virginia Tech. Coach Tsipis said Wilson’s injury is still being evaluated. Sophomore guard Chakecia Miller started in Wilson’s place, adding eight points and five assists.
The Colonials are encouraged by their performance against the Bears, and Tsipis went as far as to say that their first half performance was the most complete half of basketball that his team has played so far this season. Nipe admitted that the team has struggled offensively in the early stages of the season, but they did not face those struggles against Morgan State. Nipe even said that her team’s offensive showing was more impressive than their defensive performance.
“It was refreshing for all of us to make our shots. Once our outside shots start falling it makes it easier to make them inside. That’s how we gained confidence. Our team’s energy built off of one play to the next,” Nipe said. “I think we needed a game that would build our confidence and this was that game.”
Tsipis trusts his squad to not fixate on their impressive performance against Morgan State. Tsipis has made a point for his players to never become content with their current level of performance.
“They have a really good understanding of not being satisfied,” Tsipis said. “Whether its four minutes in a game, an entire half, or a practice, they are always working to get better. I like that they are not satisfied.”
Tsipis will use their victory against the Bears as a benchmark for what his team is capable of when they execute at all facets of the game. The Colonials’ next five games feature battles against local rivals Georgetown, American, Howard and George Mason. GW must match the intensity and focus from their game against Morgan State to succeed in their upcoming matchups.
“They know that we can do a better job always and you got to do a lot of the little things on the road,” Tsipis said. “They really stepped up to the challenge. Now we have a home stand coming up and we are bringing some momentum into those games.”
The Colonials will need to play at their highest level when they host rival Georgetown Saturday. Tsipis expects his team to be ready for a tough game as he continues to challenge his players to maximize their potential.
“They will work tomorrow to make sure that they are better than they were today,” Tsipis said.
This article appeared in the November 29, 2012 issue of the Hatchet.