Preview: Women’s basketball at Princeton

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Ethan Stoler | Contributing Photo Editor

Sophomore guard Jair Bolden handles the ball in the half court and sets up a play during men's basketball's exhibition game against Fairmont State Saturday.

What: Women’s basketball at Princeton

Where: Jadwin Gymnasium, Princeton, N.J.

When: Friday, Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Women’s basketball hits the road to take on the Tigers in the season opener Friday. GW defeated Princeton 56–45 in its home opener last year at the Smith Center.

The Colonials were picked to finish sixth in the Preseason A-10 standings after winning three consecutive regular season conference titles.

The case for the Colonials:

The first game may be an experiment for head coach Jennifer Rizzotti. The team lost their top three scorers and rebounders from last year in forwards Lexi Martins, Caira Washington and Hannah Schaible. The reins will now be passed to junior point guard Mei-Lyn Bautista as the Colonials look to play at a faster, more deliberate pace this season.

Bautista ran the show from the point guard position last year and will have to do so again this season given the Colonials’ backcourt depth and relative lack of size in the frontcourt. The junior point guard averaged 5.6 points and 2.5 assists per game, but will now have to be a more efficient scorer for GW after barely eclipsing 30 percent from the field last year.

Senior forward Kelli Prange returns after averaging eight points per game for the second consecutive season and senior guard Brianna Cummings will look to lead on both sides of the ball.

Cummings, who has a knack for being a defensive stalwart and was named to the A-10 Preseason All-Defensive team, has the athletic ability and physicality to outrebound opposing frontcourts, as she pulled down 4.5 boards per game last season.

Cummings will also need to be more assertive on the offensive end after averaging 6.5 points per game last season. The 5-foot-10 winger has shown an ability to get into the paint and draw fouls, and she had the highest free-throw percentage among all GW players with 75 attempts or more last year.

Early in the season, Rizzotti could utilize nearly the whole roster as she tries to figure out the best rotations and matchups.

The case for the Tigers:

The Tigers return their top two scorers and rebounders from last year in sophomore forward Bella Alarie and senior forward Leslie Robinson. Alarie averaged 12.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game last season, and spent her summer helping the United States’ U-19 team earn a silver medal at the 2017 FIBA World Cup.

At 6-foot-4, Alarie has the length and size to score in the post, but is also a solid shooter from beyond the arc, connecting on nearly 38 percent of her three-point tries. She could be a tough inside-out matchup for Prange.

Robinson averaged 10.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest last year, and was the Tigers’ most efficient scorer after connecting on nearly 50 percent of her attempts from the field. Princeton may try to assert Alarie and Robinson in the post from the jump and establish control in the paint on the offensive end.

In the backcourt, junior guard Gabrielle Rush will likely step into a starting role for the Tigers after playing in 29 games and increasing her production in every offensive category last season.

The bottom line:

Princeton has the more experienced team and returns their two best players. Alarie is quickly developing into an elite talent, and Robinson is as steady as they come from the forward position. The Colonials will be hard-pressed to go at it with a Tiger team that has the height advantage, but look for GW to push the pace early and try to set the tone from the perimeter.

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