Midway through the first half, Dayton took its first lead of the game on a three from Amber Deane. Caira Washington misfired a jumpshot on GW’s next possession, and the Flyers took the rebound back for their first consecutive baskets of the game and a three-point lead in the battle between the Atlantic 10’s top two teams Sunday.
But the Colonials, which had trailed for a total of two seconds in their previous game, erased the lead with a three from Jonquel Jones that sparked an 11-point run on the way to a 67-56 win at the Smith Center, the team’s 19th straight.
Jones posted her 14th double-double of the season, with 18 points and 18 rebounds. Sophomore Caira Washington recorded 11 points and 10 rebounds, good for her third double-double of the year, and senior Chakecia Miller had a game-high six assists and added nine points. But head coach Jonathan Tsipis was most impressed with the team’s shutdown of players like Ally Malott, who went 3-12 from the field.
“The pride we have defensively showed there like no other time this season,” Tsipis said.
GW led by as much as 19 with 11 minutes remaining in the second half. However, a 17-9 Flyers run over the final 9:49 pulled the game back into the single digits during the final minute. Jones made two free throws with 21 seconds left to restore a double-digit lead.
“We knew it was going to be a game of runs,” said senior Lauren Chase, who had six points. “We just had to stay composed. It started with Chakecia and I being the point guards and trying to calm everyone down.”
The Colonials went back to their bread and butter once again, out-rebounding Dayton 57-36 despite being outscored 28-24 in the paint. As a team, GW shot 35 percent from the field and held Dayton to 32 percent. The Colonials held a slim 13-12 lead in points off turnovers, with both teams turning the ball over 15 times.
As a team, GW had 20 assists (on 26 made field goals), compared to only eight for Dayton.
“We like to take what the defense gives us,” Miller said. “We like to be the dictators and we like to penetrate, and we found our teammates who knocked down shots.”
The Colonials ended the first half on a 25-12 run to lead 39-29. The team shot 41 percent from the field and held the Flyers to 35 percent shooting. GW hit five three-pointers (Jones and Cranshaw each had two) in the first 20 minutes and forced nine Dayton turnovers. The game was tied five times in the half.
Jones led all players with 12 first-half points, and added a team-high seven rebounds. Miller had a game-high four assists in the half. Despite the overall lead, the Colonials were outscored 18-10 in the paint. Still, they held a 26-21 rebounding advantage. Dayton held a 9-7 advantage in points off turnovers.
With the win, the team has now swept the defending champion Flyers in conference play after pulling out a nail-biter in Ohio earlier this season. But even with the success, Tsipis said there is still more work to be done.
“We keep taking steps forward,” Tsipis said. “We still have six more league games to go, and I think this team knows that we can still make progress and get better.”
With sole possession of first place and two wins over the defending champions, Miller said the team is ready to handle the pressure.
“We know we’re going to get every team’s best shot,” Miller said. “We’re going to approach every game the same and play our best basketball.”
The Colonials return to action Wednesday at 8 p.m. when they visit St. Louis.