This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.
The lead ballooned to 14 points and head coach Jonathan Tsipis bellowed. His players walked to the sidelines with swagger, the bench on their feet and the head coach thrilled. A few minutes to play, and GW was on its way to extending its win streak to 12 straight.
GW (14-2, 3-0) would go on to win 77-67, though it took some time to find a rhythm against Richmond (9-6, 1-2). It wasn’t until the end of the game that GW pulled away as rebounding – a usual strong suit for the third-highest rebounding team in the country – posed an initial problem for the Colonials.
“Us as a team, we focus on rebounding so much to the point that when we’re off, you feel it,” junior Jonquel Jones said. “Then coach coming into the locker room and putting it up on the board and challenging us to go out there and get on the glass was an eye opener for us as well. We just wanted to come out there and do what we had to do to get the win.”
The challenge worked – GW outscored Richmond 40-34 in the second half. The Colonials flipped the rebounding margin from plus-one at halftime to plus-12 in the second half, out-rebounding the Spiders 25-13, with a 12 to 5 margin on the offensive glass all in the second half.
Scoring, though, was rarely much of an issue for the Colonials. Four players finished in double figures, with Naismith Trophy candidate Jonquel Jones tallying a stat line of 21 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and four blocks.
Jones looked like James out there – LeBron James. As one of the biggest players on the court, she would collect the defensive rebound, head down the court with a full head of steam and finesse her way over smaller bodies to finish for two points. Jones said she worked on that this off season, and that pushing the ball was a goal for the game.
“You know what, when you’re struggling to score it doesn’t take rocket science to throw it number 35,” Tsipis said. “She expects to go 14 for 14.”
On the defensive end, GW was strongest when converting turnovers into baskets. The Colonials finished with 20 points off of turnovers and the Spiders finished with 16 of their own, leading to several runs in a game that Tsipis called a “tale of three things.” Transition baskets were the first of the three, along with increasing ball touches inside and a long 2-3 zone, which halted a Spiders third-best 3-point shooting team to 4-18 behind the arc.
The Colonials held in check Richmond’s redshirt senior Genevieve Okoro, the third-best rebounder in the conference. She finished with four rebounds, four fewer than her average. Jones and sophomore Caira Washington, the first and sixth top rebounders in the conference, respectively, totaled 19 rebounds combined. Washington also added 14 points.
Senior Chakecia Miller helped lead the zone and occasional press. She was a sharp anticipator, finishing with four steals, three coming in the second half. The guard finished with a season-high 16 points, four off her career high, along with six assists.
“That’s what coach emphasized at half time – just play at our pace and just go out at them, attack them,” Miller said. “I think that’s what we did in the second half.”
Sophomore Hannah Schaible and junior Alexis Chandler played important minutes in the second half, knocking down clutch baskets to keep the Colonials’ lead, which shrunk to as little as three points. Schaible was the fourth GW player to reach double digits in the game, with her typical stat-stuffer line of 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“It’s great to get the conference win to hold serve at home and then some situations we haven’t had happen in the first 15 games that I think will make us a better team,” Tsipis said.
The win marks 12 straight, keeping them perfect in conference play and likely edging them closer to a top 25 national ranking. The Colonials next play at Rhode Island on Thursday at 7 p.m.