What: Women’s basketball vs. George Mason
Where: Charles E. Smith Center
When: Saturday, Feb. 18 at 2 p.m.
GW (18-8, 11-3 A-10) will take on area rival George Mason (13-14, 6-8 A-10) on Senior Day. The Colonials outlasted the Patriots 79-71 in overtime during their first matchup on Jan. 11.
The case for the Colonials:
The Colonials have gotten hot at the perfect time, tallying their longest win streak of the season by winning their last five games. They remain just one game behind Dayton in the conference standings and will be looking to catch up before the end of the regular season.
Senior forward Caira Washington’s return to the lineup has galvanized the Colonials, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. After conceding 73 points in their last loss to Duquesne, GW has allowed just 50.2 points per game during its winning run.
Washington’s presence in the paint has made a crucial difference, and Rizzotti has often praised her as being the best defensive player on the floor. Her gritty 15-point, 14-rebound performance against Dayton was symbolic of the immense impact she has on the court.
The “backcourt by committee” of sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista, senior guard Shannon Cranshaw, and freshman guard Kendall Bresee has also played efficiently and minimized turnovers and junior forward Kelli Prange has averaged more than 10 points per game in the last three contests.
Senior Hannah Schaible and graduate student Lexi Martins continue to power the Colonials with their scoring. Martins had a game-high 21 points in Wednesday’s win over St. Bonaventure.
The Colonials have dominated the Patriots at home, historically, and given the fact that they will play their rivals on Senior Day, expect the team to come out firing.
The case for the Patriots:
The Patriots’ record is slightly deceptive – they’ve been competitive nearly every time out against Atlantic 10 teams. In fact, the Patriots likely would have gotten the better of the Colonials in their first matchup had Schaible not scored 13 points in the overtime period.
Redshirt senior forward Kara Wright has been the best player for George Mason all season long, and she will have to anchor the Patriots again. Wright tallied 23 points and nine boards against the Colonials last time out and her ability to step out and shoot the three makes her a very dangerous player that GW must keep tabs on.
The Patriots have a big frontcourt, but they will have to match the Colonials’ defensive intensity on their end. Considering that George Mason struggles to score the ball — with Wright being the only player that averages double figures — they will have to rely on their defensive pressure. It likely starts with sending double teams at Martins and Washington and forcing the Colonials into long jump-shots.
The Bottom Line:
Considering GW’s defensive proficiency and the Patriots’ inability to score the ball, the Colonials should overwhelm George Mason. With Senior Day providing some added motivation, head coach Jennifer Rizzotti’s team will likely run their winning streak to six games.