Women’s basketball: How spreading the ball up front is helping everyone score more

Jonquel Jones drives past a Richmond defender to attempt a shot. Even as the focus of opposing game plans, Jones has four consecutive double-doubles and is creating space for other post players. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Jonquel Jones drives past a Richmond defender to attempt a shot. Even as the focus of opposing game plans, Jones has four consecutive double-doubles and is creating space for other post players. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer
This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Alex Kist.

Four games into Atlantic 10 play, it seems like women’s basketball tells the same story over and over again. Opponents have been forced to read GW’s ‘Tale of Two Posts,’ and accept the inevitable conclusion of junior Jonquel Jones and sophomore Caira Washington scoring a barrage of points on a bi-weekly basis.

That happened last season too, with one notable exception. Jones and Washington often struggled to have big games at the same time. That is no longer the case.

“As we play each game, I think people understand the importance of Jonquel to our team and people are devising entire game plans around her,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “Caira was really good at setting the tone of us getting the ball inside and getting it at the rim.”

Even when taking the bulk of defensive attention, Jones is still scoring alongside Washington, who gets to reap the benefits of the extra space. They’d often alternate: one with a 20 point performance but the other shut down and then switch the next games as scouting reports switched their focus or one of them would be determined to have a bounce-back performance.

One example is the Colonials game last year against Rhode Island. Jones scored 17 points while Washington didn’t score.

But Thursday on the road against the Rams, Washington demonstrated her ability to get active on the offensive glass by pacing both teams with 17 points and shooting 72.7 percent from the field. Jones scored 10 points and pulled down a career-high 18 rebounds, her ninth of the season.

One difference from last year to this year is the addition of freshman Kelli Prange, who also notched 11 points up front for the Colonials along with seven rebounds. With the addition of yet another towering post, who also happens to be a threat to score off the three ball, Jones and Washington have been able to have huge nights at the same time.

Jones has four consecutive double-doubles, and Washington hasn’t scored less than 14 points in a game in over a month. Prange is also taking advantage of the spread floor by trailing only Jones and Washington with 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. For those keeping score at home that means the trio up front is averaging a combined 38.8 points and 26.1 rebounds per game.

The Colonials 18 assists on 24 made field goals against Rhode Island show that the team is excelling at finding space and quality shots. With the number of options up front, someone is almost always able to get open.

“Right now we are struggling from the three-point line, but I think our guards did a good job in the second half of putting the ball on the ground and getting the defense to commit and then getting another touch in the paint,” Tsipis said.

Teams have tried to stop GW’s inside game by pushing the tempo to try to throw the Colonials off in transition, so Tsipis said the team will focus on maintaining composure and vision even when working quickly and facing heavy pressure in the half court.

“There were times that we didn’t have a great shot in transition, we were able to settle in and make connections on the half court,” Tsipis said. “On the road, if teams try to change the tempo and send more people back to stop us in transition, then we need to be able to execute.”

GW heads to Amherst to take on Massachusetts at 2 p.m. on Sunday before returning home to the Smith Center on Wednesday.

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