GW ended a its five-game losing streak Sunday by reversing a pattern, turning its season-long struggles on offense into an efficient and methodical attack. The Colonials (7-10, 1-2) defeated Atlantic 10 newcomer VCU 79-68, committing to attacking the heart of VCU’s 2-3 zone defense.
GW attempted only nine treys over the course of the game and they converted just one, but the Colonials shot an efficient 53 percent from the field overall. The balanced offensive attack produced five double figure scorers and forced the Rams into attempting 20 three-point shots in an effort to keep up with the Colonials’ offense.
“We got good looks against the zone and moved the ball into the middle of the floor,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “We did not settle with our shots, which was important in keeping up on offense.”
VCU could not key in on any particular GW player, because many were scoring proficiently. Sophomore guard Chakecia Miller led GW with 20 points, converting six of seven shots and making all eight of her free throw attempts. It was Miller’s second straight game of scoring 20 or more points. Graduate student Tara Booker supplemented Miller’s scoring efforts with 19 points, and graduate student Sara Mostafa posted a double-double, chipping in thirteen points and ten rebounds.
GW showed off the complete potential of its offense as the first half came to a close. The Colonials, down by four, were determined to avoid a sixth straight defeat. They closed the half on a 10-0 run to take a 42-36 lead into the break.
“We got good looks early, and in the second half we kept up the effort and we did a good job,” Tsipis said. “We built confidence on offense, and we kept attacking. With that mindset, the attack mentality that I’ve been proud of, we will continue to improve our offense.”
The team backed up its shooting with a strong showing at the charity stripe, going 20-for-21 from the free throw line. Further supporting GW’s attack was a dominant defensive showing that gave the team a 43-30 advantage on the boards and held the Rams to 33.8 percent shooting on the game.
The victory against VCU was the first A-10 win of the season for the Colonials and Tsipis’ first as a head coach. While Tsipis and his squad are glad to have snapped their five-game losing streak, they are more encouraged by the overall quality of play that led to the win on Sunday.
“Even better than breaking a losing streak is playing really well,” Booker said. “We executed on offense, and we shared the ball well. Right now we are looking to be more consistent.”
Consistency will be key as the Colonials prepare for conference play. Tsipis is encouraged by his team’s victory against VCU – especially that the win came on the road. Four of the five games during GW’s five game losing streak were on the road and every victory away from the Smith Center will require maximum effort and focus.
GW will play another conference road game Thursday when they take on Dayton. Tsipis acknowledges that the Flyers are a tough opponent and will be a real test for his team, but he trusts his players.
“The losing was tough. But they have not stopped working hard in practice. To go on the road and to be able to come on the road and sustain a high level of play makes me proud,” Tsipis said. “They have done a good job of being accountable for their play and getting extra work in. They have taken a lot of responsibility upon themselves to improve and get better.”
This article appeared in the January 21, 2013 issue of the Hatchet.