One year ago, an eight-game winning streak and a 3-0 mark in Atlantic 10 play was spoiled in the women’s basketball team’s 90-69 loss to Dayton.
This season, the Colonials flipped the books on the preseason-favorite Flyers when they picked up a road win in the conference opener.
Since then, GW has secured wins against Saint Joseph’s and Richmond to go to 3-0 in the conference yet again, this time on a 12-game winning streak, the longest in eight years, with no signs of slowing down.
The expectations for this team were high, bolstered by the league’s best frontcourt in junior Jonquel Jones and sophomore Caira Washington, but the Colonials look ready to exceed them, and not just because of their one-two punch up front and noteworthy +15.2 rebounding margin that conference opponents have learned to anticipate on game day.
“Sometimes you have to understand, you’ve got to play different ways to be effective,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.
Against Richmond on Saturday, the Colonials struggled – relatively speaking – off the boards in the first half, out-rebounding the Spiders by just one. It can’t be said they won without rebounding dominance as GW posted a +12 rebounding margin by the end of the game, which helped the team pull away in the second half, but they still played half the contest without that signature thrashing off the glass.
Just two games before, against Dayton, the Colonials got their biggest win of the season and their first game in which they lost the rebounding margin simultaneously. GW ranks fifth in the A-10 in rebounding margin in conference games.
In the past three contests, GW has run a more complex, finessed offense. The Colonials have had higher assist numbers and slightly fewer turnovers, with the backcourt stepping up to help the team through a tough stretch of games in which they couldn’t just bang their way off the boards to a win.
Guards Hannah Schaible, Chakecia Miller and Lauren Chase have contributed steals, fast transitions and accurate entry passes into the frontcourt. After the game against Richmond, Tsipis said Schaible and Miller had more movement in the second half, allowing the posts, like Jones and Washington, to have more options to get the ball back out to the top of the key if they ran into pressure situations.
In the Saint Joe’s matchup Wednesday, Chase dropped back-to-back dimes and finished the game with four assists and seven total points. Against Richmond, the team as a whole had 21 assists to the opponent’s nine. The Colonials have averaged 18.5 assists per game in conference play, the best in the A-10.
That’s higher than their 17.8 assist per game average, and that number has been skewed by games like GW’s 26-assist, 38-point blowout of Grambling State.
GW still had 15 turnovers against Richmond, but that’s less than the season average of 19.5. Tsipis also said the Colonials take chances to feed their transition game and that he prefers they throw the ball in the stands than throw it short, which could give an opponent an easy drive to the basket if intercepted.
He added that the better pass selection of his perimeter players has shaved off some of the turnovers. The Colonials also had just 15 against Saint Joe’s.
“We talked about it at halftime. We have to have a better connection, a better pass,” Tsipis said. “I think at times our guards get spoiled with Jonquel and Caira, that they just throw it up in the air and expect them to go get it every single time.”
Tsipis said he wants his players to jump more in the passing lane to pick up a steal and force turnovers on opponents on the other end. GW ranks fifth in the conference with a +0.13 turnover margin.
Tsipis has frequently used the word “poise” when talking about his players. With balanced bench contributors and confident starters, Tsipis hopes they will continue to be selfless enough to give up a good shot to find a great one.
“When people play us, people are going to be fired up because of right now, where we sit,” Tsipis said. “I think people understand that we’ve played some good basketball.”
Armed with this 12-game win streak, GW will head on the road for the weekend, starting with a matchup against Rhode Island on Thursday at 7 p.m.