After heading into the fourth quarter leading Saint Louis by eight points Saturday afternoon, women’s basketball needed a clutch shot at the end of regulation.
The Colonials’ offense took less than 10 seconds to find junior guard Mei-Lyn Bautista on the right side to tie the game up – and send the contest into overtime – with her second three-point make.
During extra time, free throws from senior guard Brianna Cummings tied the game up with six seconds on the clock – appearing to cause another overtime period. But the Billikens’ leading scorer, senior guard Jackie Kemph, sunk a running three-point game-winning buzzer-beater to silence the Smith Center crowd.
The officials reviewed the attempt, but after it was marked good, Saint Louis (11-10, 5-3 A-10) walked away with a 72–69 victory over GW (9-11, 4-4 A-10) and sole possession of fifth place in the Atlantic 10.
Despite her disappointment in the loss, head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said she thought the tight game provided her team with lessons to learn from.
“I thought there were good things out there on the offensive end in our movement and ability to find the open guy,” Rizzotti said. “Hopefully that is something we can build on.”
Cummings finished the day with a game-high 20 points and six assists, often leading the Colonials on the break and controlling the team’s pace of play. Bautista and senior forward Kelli Prange joined Cummings in double-digits with 15 points apiece.
“Coach always does a good job of telling shooters that if we make shots, we should keep taking them,” Bautista said. “I have the confidence for anyone in a Colonials’ uniform to make a shot.”
Prange – who came off the bench and played just 24 minutes – grabbed three of GW’s six offensive boards. Throughout the game, the Billikens controlled the glass – leading the battle on the boards by 14 and securing 15 offensive rebounds.
As a team, the Colonials shot 2.3 percent higher from the field.
Their defensive success occurred mostly in the middle two quarters, when Saint Louis was limited to 10-for-32 from the field and Kemph was unable to find open shots. By the halfway mark, GW had garnered six steals, five blocks and forced 10 turnovers.
“Saint Louis is a really good offensive team,” Rizzotti said. “I thought our defensive toughness for most of the game was really good.”
After the tip-off, the Colonials took a 4-0 lead. But the Billikens overtook the scoreboard with three baskets from behind the arc, ending the quarter ahead by two points.
GW began the second quarter with a 5-0 run and created momentum for the team to hold onto its lead.
Entering the second half, the Colonials focused on their defense and put pressure on the Saint Louis offense. The Billikens, who were scoreless for three consecutive minutes in the third quarter, struggled to connect the ball with the basket or stop GW from finding the rim.
In the third quarter, the Colonials played their best offensive basketball – beginning with an 11-6 run and maintaining their advantage the entire 10 minutes.
The final frame shifted the momentum to Saint Louis, as the Billikens defense caught GW feeling too comfortable. The Colonials did not score for seven straight minutes and, even after late baskets, were outscored 14-6 in the quarter.
The Colonials return to action against La Salle Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Smith Center.