This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Alex Kist.
Through three games, GW has the Atlantic 10’s best point margin, clocking in at nearly 14 points more per game than opponents.
More noteworthy, though, is that the team is doing it while shooting in the middle of the pack, seventh in the conference with a 37 percent mark from the field.
While the team is clearly scoring, it isn’t sharp-shooting its way to success. Instead, GW is using an active defense to fuel its offense and filling the stat sheet, especially with a strong perimeter defense. That’s what the team did in its home opener Wednesday, when GW overpowered Bowie State (Division II) 88-45.
The Colonials’ game plan was to field a multi-dimensional defense: boxing out in the paint and forcing turnovers around the perimeter. GW caused 28 Bowie State turnovers during the game and scored 31 points off the extra possessions.
“I thought we were active defensively. We pushed in transition how we liked, we attacked. We didn’t allow them to get set in a defense even when they were trying to get in the zone early on because of how the posts were running, how the wings were running,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.
The Colonials amassed more than triple the steals of their opponent, forcing the team to rely on scoring in the paint, where Bowie State was only outscored 28-34, but refusing them anything else. GW stole the ball 19 times to Bowie State’s six.
That was perhaps to be expected: The Colonials also lead the league in steals, averaging over 13 per game, nearly three more than the second-ranked team, VCU. GW is also ranked second in turnover margin, getting four more than they give per game.
Those numbers illustrate that, to date, the perimeter defense has been airtight, especially in protecting the three pointer. Bowie State made just one of seven attempts from downtown, while American made just one of 11 attempts.
There’s definitely a flip side: In GW’s sole loss against Florida Gulf Coast University, the Eagles shot nearly 50 percent from beyond the arc and made seven threes, a critical component of the team’s win over the Colonials.
“We have been able to chase people off the three point line,” Tsipis said. “We are making people shoot contested threes, which leads to a long shot or long rebound that can really help us get out and get in transition.”
Senior Lauren Chase acted as the floor general, completing 10 assists by reading the floor and feeding the post. Tsipis said she made great decisions and achieved his goal of 10 assists, hitting seven within the first 10 minutes of play.
When the Colonials seek revenge Saturday against No. 9 Maryland for the Terps’ blowout win over GW last year, Tsipis said the team will focus on staying steady at the line, minimizing fouls and continuing fast transitions.
“We need to be able to guard better with our feet. We are still putting arms on people and we fouled a couple jump shooters tonight,” Tsipis said.
Against a top team like the Terps, foul trouble could spell the GW’s demise. But more important, perhaps, could be the Colonials’ ability to continue making the outside unfriendly territory as the team faces its first true test at home. Tip-off is Saturday at 3:30 p.m.