This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Matt Cullen.
Before the start of the season, head coach Jonathan Tsipis preached the importance of defense and insisted that if the Colonials played tough defense, they would win games.
So far this season that has been exactly the case, and Wednesday against La Salle (3-13) was no different. The 83-59 win brings the Colonials (14-3) to an unblemished 7-0 in games during which they hold their opponents to below 35 percent shooting.
GW was extremely active on its side of the court to begin the game. On the Explorers’ first eight possessions down the floor they were unable to get anything going, committing three turnovers, two offensive fouls, and missing a wide-open layup.
Despite the bad start, La Salle was able to make it a one-point game with just over a minute left in the first quarter. The Colonials finished the set strong with a three-pointer from freshman guard Mei-Lyn Bautista and three points the old fashioned way from senior forward Jonquel Jones.
That small surge to end the first sparked the Colonials to a 17-0 run in less than four minutes of play behind a balanced attack that included another three from Bautista, four points from junior forward Caira Washington, and four points from junior guard Hannah Schaible.
Schaible attributed the run to them getting back to their own style of play.
“We just turned around and played our game because when we play our game, we work really well as a team,” she said.
Schaible ended up finishing with a team-high 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting including going an impressive 5-of-5 in the first half.
Other than junior guard Shannon Cranshaw and senior guard Alexis Chandler (who combined for 0-10 from the field), the Colonials had an efficient scoring night with five players shooting over 50 percent (La Salle had zero).
The Colonials took a 20-point lead going into halftime allowing Coach Tsipis to play ten different players for double-digit minutes. Bautista and senior forward Delacy Anderson, in particular, took advantage of their minutes, combining for 19 points on 8-11 shooting.
“[Bautista] is really growing her game. People are starting to see that when you have a good example in front of you in Lauren Chase that you have to go head to head with in every practice,” Tsipis said. “Now she finished with five assists and no turnovers, and she’s getting people great shots and she is able to be an offensive threat from the three-point line.”
In the second half the Explorers came out in a full court trap but the strategy — just like their first half approach of an aggressive box and one — was not successful.
There was no let up during the first six minutes of the second half, when the Colonials extended their lead to 29.
That made the last 15 minutes of the game essentially a formality, as the Colonials cruised to the win with their starters on the bench during the final set.
The Explorers were not expected to win coming into the game, but they expected sophomore guard Amy Griffin—who averages 17.8 points per game—to guide their attack and give them a chance for the upset. Through the first three quarters, Griffin was 0-for-11 from the field, had turned the ball over seven times, and picked up three fouls.
“Everybody understood the game plan on what we were trying to do with Amy Griffin. I was just really pleased. The assignment started with Caira Washington, Hannah Schiable guarded her, and we guarded her off the ball screen. That didn’t allow them to get into an offensive rhythm,” Tsipis said.
Griffin eventually found her scoring touch and finished knocking down her last six baskets and totaling 16 points and 7 rebounds before she fouled out. Her effort was too late, with the majority of her baskets coming in the final minutes, with an impossible margin to make up.
“We talk about every game being a building block and this game was just another step for us,” Jones said.
Sunday Jan. 17 the Colonials experience their toughest A-10 challenge so far as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on rv/No. 25 Duquesne (16-1).