This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Matt Cullen.
With only 1.3 seconds on the clock and no timeouts left, graduate student guard Lauren Chase found junior forward Caira Washington wide open off an inbound pass. The ball hit Washington directly in the hands and she released the shot without defensive pressure. The entire crowd watched in silence as the ball hit the back rim and rolled out as the final buzzer sounded.
In their second overtime game of the season, missed shots, missed free throws and interior defense were the Colonials’ undoing in a 69-67 loss to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday night.
“We need to count on everybody a little bit more,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “I wouldn’t say it is one specific person’s responsibility, I think they all understand that each person has to do a little bit more.”
Neither team dominated the fast-paced first quarter. St. Bonaventure senior forward Katie Healy was getting to the basket easily and finishing close to the hoop, but the Colonials responded with aggressive offense focused around junior forward Caira Washington in the paint. GW’s shots were not falling early, but the entire team was crashing the boards.
The Colonials finished the game with 19 offensive rebounds compared to St. Bonaventure’s five. This gave GW (21-5, 11-2 A-10) plenty of opportunities for second-chance baskets every trip down the floor, while slowing down the Bonnies’ fast break.
After three-pointers from Chase and sophomore guard Shannon Cranshaw, the Colonials took an 18-12 lead going into the first break.
Sophomore forward Kelli Prange and junior guard Hannah Schaible were both able to knock down three-pointers for the first two shots of the second quarter. That gave the Colonials a 12-point advantage, which they were able to extend to a 37-22 lead going into the half behind efficient shooting.
Schaible led the Colonials with 12 points and three rebounds on 5-for-9 shooting at the half. She ended up finishing the game with 16 points and eight rebounds while scoring on all three of her attempts from behind the arc.
“I thought Hannah scored the ball well in the first half today,” Tsipis said. “As a junior she understands when she needs to step up.”
Early in the second half, Washington picked up her third foul and was forced to take a seat on the bench for the majority of the third quarter.
Without their key imposing presence on the interior the Colonials struggled for several possessions on defense, allowing St. Bonaventure (21-5, 10-3 A-10) to get back in the game with a 7-0 run.
“Caira has to understand, especially as a junior and being an All-Conference player that we have to have her on the floor,” Tsipis said. “We have got to have her on the floor defensively and be able to use her length. We have got to have her on the floor for what she can give us on the offensive end, too.”
The Bonnies, who finished with 10 blocks, started to pick up their defensive pressure in the second half. The Colonials shot only 26 percent in the second half, which compared to their first half mark of 50 percent, was a complete breakdown.
Throughout the game, Healy controlled the paint on the offensive side. In the third quarter she was matched up against senior guard Alexis Chandler and was able to consistently get to the basket using her size and speed advantage. Healy finished with 24 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field and an 8-for-9 clip from the line.
With two minutes left on the game clock, the Bonnies capitalized on two missed free throws from Washington and took the 57-55 lead, their first lead since three minutes into the game.
Then, with only 14 seconds left on the game clock, sophomore guard Bri Cummings drove the ball past a Bonnies defender and found Washington wide open for the game-tying layup—sending the game into overtime.
During the extra period, the teams traded blows. The Colonials went up three and the Bonnies responded by sinking two baskets for themselves. Both teams were trying to manage the clock so they would have the last possession. But, after a missed free throw from Chase, the Colonials found themselves down four with less than a minute to go.
A layup from Chase and intense on-ball defense from Schaible gave GW one last shot to tie it up.
As the Washington jumper missed its mark and the crowd in New York erupted, the Colonials dropped from the top of the conference standings and picked up their second A-10 loss on the road. Duquesne is now in first place.
Wednesday night marked the seventh game that senior forward Jonquel Jones has missed since going down with a shoulder injury on Jan. 20. The Colonials have dropped two of those seven games and have not looked as strong on either side of the floor.
“[Jones] is doing more and more on the court every day. It is great to have her out there. Right now there is no set time for a return, it is still day-to-day and she is still getting used to being on the floor. She is not allowed to have any contact yet,” commented Tsipis. “They looked at her and the area of her shoulder is still not structurally where it needed to be yet, but nothing is broken or dislocated.”
The Colonials will try to turn the momentum around in their return to Washington where they will play host to VCU on Saturday. Tip is scheduled for 3 p.m.