After trailing by as many as 12 points Saturday afternoon, women’s basketball mounted a comeback at the end of the fourth quarter.
The Colonials went on a 14-2 run and tied the game up in the final minute. But Duquesne got the last word, hitting a free throw with three seconds remaining and finishing with the win.
The 54–53 loss dropped GW to 7-9 on the year and 2-2 in the Atlantic 10, snapping its two-game winning streak.
“It was a tough one to come out of the losing end on,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “But there were just too many things that happened before that last four and a half minutes.”
With four ties and six lead changes in the first half alone, the Colonials struggled to find their groove and follow through on shots – shooting just 29.0 percent from the floor.
But GW still tested Duquesne (14-3, 4-0 A-10) from the beginning, coming out with a strong press and holding the Dukes to 24 points in the first half.
“It’s a little bit easier to press when the other team is trying to protect a lead,” Rizzotti said. “So that is an ideal situation when you’re down but it’s also not something we can do for 40 minutes.”
Senior guard Brianna Cummings had a game-high 18 points, including nine in the last five minutes of the contest. Junior forward Kelsey Mahoney also came up big, scoring five of her 10 points during the final stretch.
Although the Colonials closed the gap with a spark of energy at the end of the game, junior guard Mei-Lyn Bautista said she was not satisfied with the first three quarters.
“At the end of March we want to be able to look back and say we learned from this and now we can compete all for 40 minutes of the game,” Bautista said.
Bautista tallied a career-high 16 points along with five assists and five steals. GW had a season-low six turnovers and was able to force 15 from the Dukes.
Rizzotti said her team relied on their strong players like Bautista and Cummings to help create plays, but is still working to trust their offensive play and become a dangerous force on the court.
“We’re going to get what we want if we cut hard and screen hard,” Rizzotti said. “We just need to have defensive confidence that we can guard anybody.”
Freshman forward Neila Luma started the game and played 25 minutes, adding six rebounds and two steals. GW’s three freshmen combined for 53 minutes, but only five points on the night.
“I’m proud of how they responded and how they added to our competitiveness,” Rizzotti said. “But on the day that I can get that from them on a more consistent basis, we’ll be a lot better basketball team.”
After missing six games earlier this season and returning for only six minutes against VCU, senior forward Kelli Prange played 13 minutes against the Dukes, but failed to score.
Rizzotti said she is not worried about Prange’s mistakes, and is more focused on getting her back to playing at the same level as she was before her concussion.
“She was playing the best basketball of her career,” Rizzotti said. “I’d rather see her playing her best in March then seeing her play her best in her first game back from six weeks off.”
The Colonials will play their next game on the road against Davidson Wednesday at 7 p.m.