Women’s basketball (16-8, 9-3 A-10) stretched Rhode Island’s losing-streak to 17 games after the Colonials trounced the Rams (4-20, 0-12 A-10) in a decisive 72-44 road victory at the Ryan Center Wednesday night.
The win was women’s basketball’s third consecutive before coming back to D.C. for a three-game home stand.
The Rams never held a lead during matchup and the Colonials ended the night shooting 45 percent from the field, smothering the Rams on the defensive end. Not a single player on Rhode Island’s squad scored in double digits.
Graduate student Lexi Martins, junior Kelli Prange and senior Caira Washington combined for 42 points in the game, nearly matching the Rams’ 44-point total.
“I really challenged the team early in the game to make it about the game of basketball and not about our opponent or what the score was,” Head Coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “We were just striving to have that perfect intensity and perfect effort…making sure we were staying engaged with each other on the floor no matter who’s out there.”
GW closed out the night shooting 48 percent from the field to Rhode Island’s 32 percent and out-rebounding the Rams 41-33.
GW set the pace of the game out of the gate, jumping out to a 12-2 lead halfway through the first quarter, with back-to-back threes coming from Prange and senior guard Shannon Cranshaw sparking the Colonials’ offense.
Rizzotti’s signature inside-out offensive strategy effectively tied up the Rams’ defense, who were unable to stop GW’s commanding presence in the paint.
Although the Rams out-shot the Colonials from beyond the arc on the night, they were unable to hold off the Martins-Prange-Washington triple threat in the paint.
“I think we did a really great job coming out tonight, executing our sets through and getting really good looks on the offensive end and on the defensive end,” Martins said.
Rhode Island’s Morgan Johnson went 3-for-3 from field in the first half, including 2-for-2 from beyond the arc, to help cut the Colonials’ lead down to just seven in the middle of the second quarter, but the Rams’ carelessness with the rock resulted in the Colonials picking up 11 points off 10 turnovers and neutralizing any offensive efforts.
The Colonials picked up 30 points in total off of Rhode Island’s mistakes.
Heading into the second half of the game the Colonials were shooting a 53 percent clip. GW ran away with a 20-point lead in the third quarter after hot play by the Colonials’ bench continued the team’s forward momentum.
Junior guard Brianna Cummings scored a quick five points in the third quarter and senior guard Hannah Schaible continued to wreak havoc on the Rams, snagging five offensive rebounds and six steals to go along with her five assists.
In total, GW’s bench contributed 33 points in the match.
“It’s always nice when you can get your starters a little bit of rest at the end of the game because your bench is so prepared to play,” Rizzotti said. “I thought that was going for us tonight, the contributions from the guys off the bench.”
To end the night on a high note, freshman guard Harper Birdsong came off the bench in the fourth quarter and quickly dropped a pair of consecutive threes, sending the bench to their feet in celebration. She finished the night with a career-high nine points.
“I feel like we have so much potential, so much opportunity, for us to be great the rest of this season,” Prange said.
The Colonials return home Sunday to square off against Dayton, the number one team in the Atlantic 10. Tip-off is scheduled for 12p.m.