The missing piece in women’s basketball: Protecting the ball

Media Credit: Aly Kruse | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Chakecia Miller dribbles past the Maryland defense. The Colonials fell to the Terrapins 65-75 at the Smith Center on Saturday.

While the Colonials’ loss to No. 9 Maryland on Saturday may have spoiled the welcome-back party for forward Jonquel Jones, the team also got a taste of what it can accomplish.

GW proved that it could contend with the top teams in the nation in the 75-65 loss, though persistent turnover troubles prevented the Colonials from getting anywhere beyond the “almost” stage and turning a first-half lead into an upset.

Coming back onto the court after sitting out since the exhibition game against Virginia Union, Jones made an impact, leading GW with 18 points and reaching a double-double with 10 rebounds. Trailing closely behind Jones, sophomore forward Caira Washington amassed 10 rebounds, and sophomore guard Hannah Schaible had five.

“I think the team had a great mentality of rebounding,” Jones said. “Everybody was trying to go to the board and trying to crash, so it was a great team effort, not just one person, not just one individual, and everybody kind of chipped in to make the rebounds.”

In the first half, the Colonials’ frontcourt was able to compete against their nationally ranked Big Ten opponent, helping GW secure a 30-29 halftime lead. But backcourt and transition play was dominated by a faster Maryland team in the second half.

Maryland obtained 17 points off turnovers in the second frame, as slippery hands coughed up the ball. GW is currently averaging 20.5 turnovers per game, and holds the third-highest turnover margin in the Atlantic 10.

Tsipis also thought his players became “stagnant in the zone,” standing around waiting to react to Maryland’s scoring possessions.

“I think the natural tendency when you go against the zone is you don’t attack as much off the dribble and you still can,” Tsipis said. “We have to understand that we have to create a better shot in the zone and still be able to attack in transition off a turnover, off a rebound.”

Maryland’s skill and speed also forced the Colonials to foul. Overall, GW notched 22 personal fouls, allowing the Terps to capitalize at the keyhole on 14 of their 22 opportunities in the second. Maryland only forfeited a total of 15 personal fouls as GW struggled at the line, going 44.4 percent on the night.

“We need to get a better understanding of freedom of movement in women’s basketball. We can’t put hands on people and get them in to that early one-on-one situation,” Tsipis said.

Maryland’s guards were also more proactive in the second half, creating options to shoot threes from the perimeter or dish to the posts to get easy points off the glass, while the Colonials struggled to keep the Terps out of sync on transitions.

GW has the opportunity to build some confidence at home against Grambling State on Monday at noon. The Tigers were 11-20 last season, when they had a -3.7 turnover margin.

And Tsipis said the team will work on playing clean heading into the next game.

“We’ve got to be better rotation-wise, and I think we are still building that part,” he said.

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