Although she came into Sunday afternoon’s game against American with the third lowest shooting percentage on the team, junior forward Kelsi Mahoney caused trouble on the perimeter for the Eagles defense.
Her team-high and career-high 15 points – all on three-point shots in the first three quarters – helped energize GW’s offense to its third home victory of the season.
The Colonials (4-7) defeated American (6-4) 61–44 by shooting 62.5 percent from behind the arc and holding the Eagles to just 32.1 percent shooting on the day.
“When we run our offense we get the shots that we want and when they go in it’s really nice,” Mahoney said. “Whether its outside or inside, tonight it was from the outside.”
The win snapped GW’s four-game losing streak that extended back to the team’s Nov. 25
defeat at the hands of Syracuse.
“From start to finish that was probably our most complete game of the year,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “I told them they had a 10 percent chance of winning and I asked them to prove me wrong, and they did.”
Sunday’s contest came after an eight-day stretch without a game, but Rizzotti said the time away helped her players focus on school work and prepare for the schedule ahead.
“I thought we had a good balance of giving them some days to get individual work done and then be able to focus in the last three days on American,” Rizzotti said. “Whether we have a one-day break or a nine day break, you have got to handle yourself in the right way.”
Although Mahoney’s effort stood out, freshman forward Neila Luma also contributed 12 points and senior guard Brianna Cummings tallied nine. Cummings’ 2-for-10 shooting and team-high three turnovers did not explain the importance she played on the floor, especially on the glass – picking up a game-high 10 rebounds.
“I definitely focused on rebounding today, I knew that is what we had been lacking in the past few games,” Cummings said. “I think that definitely translated and helped us get the ball out.”
With 6-foot-5 senior forward Kelli Prange still out of the lineup with an injury, GW has been outrebounded in each of its last four contests. American finished with 34 total rebounds, including 10 on the offensive glass, compared to 32 and five for the Colonials.
The two sides started the game trading baskets, but a three-pointer from senior guard Camila Tapias increased GW’s lead to four in the game’s fourth minute. Nearly four minutes later, Eagles free throws tied the game up at 11.
American took the lead on a wide-open layup off of a backdoor pass, but the advantage lasted less than 20 seconds. Mahoney and freshman guard Lexus Levy hit shots from behind the arc to close the first quarter and give the Colonials a 19–13 lead after 10 minutes.
After three minutes of the second quarter, a Tapias layup sparked a 9-0 GW run that included two baskets from freshman forward Chyna Latimer.
The Colonials led 29–15 with four minutes remaining in the first half, but they went scoreless for nearly the entire rest of the frame as the Eagles went on an 8-0 run of their own.
Mahoney hit her fourth three-pointer of the game as the halftime buzzer sounded, sending her team into the locker room ahead by nine points.
The third quarter was GW’s strongest as its defense held American to just six points and four different Colonials scored three points or more. The Eagles were held to no made field goals for a seven-minute stretch while Cummings and Luma combined for 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
Junior guard Mei-Lyn Bautista gave GW its second straight quarter-ending buzzer-beater when she hit a jump shot from more than 20 feet away from the basket.
American responded in the fourth with its best quarter, outscoring the Colonials by four points in the frame. The Eagles started with a 7-0 run that included their only three-pointer of the afternoon, but three baskets from Luma stopped the streak from making a difference.
Looking forward, Rizzotti said picking up a win in their last home game in non-conference play was pivotal in terms of staying confident and building a home court advantage against Atlantic 10 opponents.
“It was really important for us to come out strong today,” Rizzotti said. “We were spoiled in November that we got to play at home a lot, but maybe we lost in games that we feel like we should have won.”
The Colonials return to action Friday when they travel to Monmouth to take on the Hawks (2-8) at 2 p.m.