This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.
GW came up short Wednesday – in an attempt to clinch a top-four spot in the Atlantic 10 and a double bye in the Conference Tournament – falling to St. Bonaventure 74-64.
The Colonials won the battle in the paint, outscored the Bonnies 26-2 off second chances and won the battle of the boards 45-29, but it didn’t matter.
St. Bonaventure won the game by drawing fouls and living at the line. The Bonnies scored 28 points at the charity stripe, compared to only six points for GW. Head coach Jonathan Tsipis said that a better performance at the free throw line could have been the difference.
“I think the statistics prove that when we get to 70 we don’t lose, and I think that’s one of those things that again, we only got to the free throw line nine times,” Tsipis said. “We’re not getting enough in that way in transition to make things open up a little more for us.”
St. Bonaventure’s Nyla Reuter singlehandedly topped the Colonials free-throw shooting, going a perfect 10-10 to spur her game-high 22 points.
Neither team looked dominant in the first half. The Colonials blew an early lead and trailed by as many as 12 points, largely due to turnovers. GW would give the ball away 15 times in the game.
“Fifteen turnovers doesn’t seem like a lot, but in a game that has a lower amount of possessions then those are really costly because some of those were in transition when we had advantage breaks,” Tsipis said.
GW trailed by just six at halftime, thanks to seven points in a row from freshman Hannah Schaible that chipped away at the Bonnies lead. They got even closer off a Shannon Cranshaw layup that made it 44-40 with 12:41 remaining, momentarily controlling the flow of the game.
“Not only had we cut it to four, but it was at our pace. We were pushing the ball and coming off the ball screens hard,” Tsipis said.
But St. Bonaventure’s Chelsea Bowker took that momentum away, draining a three just after Cranshaw’s shot. Imani Outlaw then ripped a steal from Danni Jackson and hit back-to-back layups to put the Bonnies back up by 11.
The Colonials didn’t have any answers after that, potential runs stunned by poor shooting. GW shot just over 37 percent from the field.
“Tonight it was difficult because they played a packed defense and the shots that we usually make were not falling tonight,” graduate student Danni Jackson said.
The next time GW would score was off a free throw from freshman Caira Washington – her sole point of the game. Washington was in foul trouble early with two by halftime, played just 16 minutes and fouled out with about a minute left in the game.
Her frontcourt partner Jonquel Jones also had two fouls by the half, but played 26 minutes and had more success inside than Washington, with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Still, Jones had to play soft later in the game to avoid fouling, and it allowed Katie Healey, the A-10’s third-best scorer, easy opportunities. Healey finished with 18 points.
“It’s really difficult when you have two of your key players not able to be out on the floor with you for that time,” Jackson said.
The Colonials now need a win against conference champion Dayton to get a double-bye for the A-10 tournament. The Flyers will visit the Smith Center on Saturday at 2 p.m., where they will be heavily favored in the game.