Women’s basketball faces tougher road to A-10 banner

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Alexandra Kruse

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis huddles with his team last week. He will need the Colonials to knock off nationally ranked Dayton on Saturday to clinch a No. 4 seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Last year, a home win over a struggling St. Bonaventure team locked up a bid to the conference tournament for the women’s basketball team, improving the Colonials to 6-6 on the season in the Atlantic 10 with two games to play.

This time around, GW’s matchup against the Bonnies would give the team a chance to finish second in the A-10. But turnovers plagued the Colonials. Foul trouble prevented their bigs from finding a rhythm. They lost 74-64 and put themselves in a tough spot with a 10-5 record.

GW will need a win at home against conference regular season champion No. 21 Dayton (14-1) if it wants to clinch a top-four spot in the conference. Doing so would automatically advance GW to the quarterfinals of the A-10 Championship, giving them a double-bye.

A loss, and the Colonials will finish fifth, forcing them to play a round earlier and setting up a potential semifinal rematch with the nationally ranked Flyers.

“We’re a confident team, and at our best we have a shot at beating anyone in this league, including Dayton,” graduate student Danni Jackson said. “We’re not going to fold just because it’s Dayton and they’re 14-1 in the league.”

The goal for the team, set by Jackson and two other graduate students: Raise an A-10 banner. Senior day at the Smith Center on Saturday will be more than an emotional moment for Jackson, Megan Nipe and Brooke Wilson to celebrate each of their five-plus years with the Colonials.

It will be a chance to achieve their goal, under the direction of a second-year head coach who always wears his NCAA Championship ring from his days on the Notre Dame coaching staff.

“It’s senior day and an opportunity to play the team that won the conference and then be able to go from there,” Head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.

Here’s a brief breakdown of the scenarios in the final week of women’s A-10 basketball:

Regardless of a GW win over Dayton, the Flyers have captured the regular-season title and a No. 1 seed in the A-10 tournament. But they are pushing for a better seed in the NCAA tournament and in the AP top 25 rankings.

St. Bonaventure (11-4) can wrap up a second-place finish with a win at La Salle (8-7). A loss and it becomes a little more complicated. Anywhere from one to three teams could finish with an 11-5 conference record, bringing tie breakers into the mix.

Fordham (10-5) and Saint Joseph’s (9-5) play each another in a pivotal final game. The Hawks will head to Massachusetts (1-13) Thursday before coming home to Philadelphia. A win in both would give them the third seed.

With a win, the Colonials would finish fourth, but no better, as both Saint Joseph’s and Fordham hold complicated tie-breakers over them. A loss, though, and they would undoubtedly finish fifth, holding a tiebreaker of their own over Duquesne.

The No. 5 seed will play March 6 against the winner of the play-in game between the bottom two teams, likely Massachusetts and George Mason. The winner of that game will play the next day against the four seed and then once again for its third game in as many days, likely against Dayton.

A road to a banner will take at least one win over the Flyers – a victory Saturday will make it a bit easier journey.

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