Second-half surge not enough for Colonials to overcome Lady Hawks

Media Credit: Freshman Caira Washington goes up for a shot last season. Washington scored 23 points for the second straight game as the Colonials won their eleventh straight. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

The women’s basketball team couldn’t pull off the season sweep of Saint Joseph’s in a Wednesday matinee at the Smith Center despite a tenacious comeback to tie the game late after being down by as many as 16 points.

Freshman Caira Washington goes up for a shot over a Lady Hawk's defender Wednesday. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer
Freshman Caira Washington goes up for a shot over a Lady Hawk’s defender Wednesday. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer

With sophomore Jonquel Jones out and wearing a boot over her injured right foot and graduate student Megan Nipe playing limited minutes after further aggravating her right knee, the Colonials were in a hole from the start.

They’ve been able to overcome injuries and absent players all season long, though, and it looked like they might be able to once again when they tied the game at 69 with 1:43 to play. But the Colonials couldn’t convert on any of their final three possessions – turning the ball over and missing jumpers – and Saint Joseph’s held on for the win, 76-69.

The loss drops GW to 13-6 on the season and 4-2 in Atlantic 10 play.

“We were too much on our heels [offensively] and I will squarely put that on my shoulders,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.

Tsipis called the game, and its opening, a complete “role reversal” from their last matchup with Saint Joe’s. GW shot 24.3 percent from the field in the first half, despite closing on a 12-3 run with four field goals in the last three-and-a-half minutes. Before that run, the Colonials hovered around a 17-percent shooting mark, sinking just five field goals. They would go into the half down 34-28.

“When you dig a hole like that, it narrows the margin for mental mistake,” Tsipis said.

The Colonials allowed four Saint Joe’s players in double figures, including star guard, senior Erin Shields, who finished with 21 points. She converted three treys in the first half, as GW continually got lost behind ball screens. Tsipis said Jackson did a much better job guarded Shields for the most of the second half, holding her to eight points – six of which from the free throw line.

Regardless, today’s game was a challenge considering the team’s win against Saint Joe’s over winter break came with 21 points and 14 rebounds from the injured Jones. At the tail end of a blowout win at George Mason Saturday night, Jones – carrying the load with Nipe still not 100 percent – reportedly injured her right foot.

“I don’t feel like we made any specific adjustments since we didn’t have Jonquel. I think it’s just a matter of everybody had to step up one spot in the rotation,” Tsipis said.

Meanwhile, graduate student Megan Nipe once again came off the bench, appearing to move better for most of the game, until she further hurt her knee defending a breakaway layup and slamming into the cushioned bottom of the basket.

It wasn’t until then, down 47-36 with 13:26 on the clock, that the Colonials really started to make their push.

“We know what Meg is going through right now so we’re already trying to play with that,” Jackson said. “We were just really trying to win the game today.”

With a little under nine minutes to go, GW closed within four points after graduate student Brooke Wilson came up with a big defensive rebound and dished it to Jackson, who then dribbled ahead for the coast to coast layup. Jackson would finish the game with a team-high 18 points, while Wilson, getting the starting spot for the sidelined Jones, would finish with 10 points and 11 rebounds – her first double-double since Dec. 2010.

Still, though, it would not be enough for the Colonials. With Nipe shooting just 1-10 from the field and moving slowly following her in-game injury, Saint Joe’s early start proved too much for GW.

Freshman Caira Washington had a strong performance in lieu of Jones, despite some first-half foul trouble, totaling 17 points and 16 rebounds – nine offensive. Washington said she wanted to pick up her game and make sure to stay aggressive on the glass, without Jones out there.

GW will stay home to play La Salle Saturday afternoon, who are coming off a loss at home against Saint Joe’s as well. Both teams will go into the game at 4-2 in A-10 play.

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