Junior guard Mei-Lyn Bautista poured in a career-high 22 points and added six assists as women’s basketball defeated La Salle 60–45 Thursday evening.
Senior forward Kelli Prange and senior guard Brianna Cummings joined Bautista in double figures. Prange tallied 13 points and six rebounds while Cummings recorded a near double-double with 10 points and nine boards. The outing was the sixth consecutive game with no freshmen or sophomores in double digits.
“We kept our composure and stayed focused on the defensive game plan until we were able to get loose for some shots in the second half,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said.
The Colonials (10-11, 5-4 A-10) shot 44.4 percent from the three-point line, with Bautista knocking down four shots from beyond the arc.
In addition to the hot shooting from deep, GW forced 18 Explorer turnovers, leading to 17 points on the other end. The Colonials also grabbed 17 offensive rebounds en route to 20 second-chance points, finishing the game with a decisive 35-25 advantage on the glass.
Rizzotti said she was pleased with her team’s effort in the rebounding battle after struggling to rebound the ball in past efforts against Saint Louis and Dayton.
The Colonials got off to a quiet start to begin the game, missing on their first five attempts while the Explorers (7-15, 2-8 A-10) grabbed the early lead.
Bautista helped GW keep the contest close with five straight points toward the end of the first period.
Despite the continued scoring success of La Salle guard Shaquana Edwards, the Colonials eventually grabbed the lead at the end of the first half, as GW established Prange in the post and began to control the paint.
“Like I tell our team every day, set the tone of the game with our defense,” Rizzotti said. “Typically when you focus on that, and focus on the little things, than the less you are worried about you’re shot going in.”
The third quarter started with a deep shot from Edwards, but GW answered with an 8-0 run behind three-pointers from Bautista and senior guard Camila Tapias.
By the end of the frame, the Colonials seized the advantage – outscoring the Explorers 26-14 and making six three-pointers to take a 49–34 lead into the final period. GW’s backcourt duo anchored the run, with both Tapias and Bautista getting hot from distance.
“I give credit to my teammates,” Bautista said. “They were setting really good screens and creating space for me to operate within our offense.”
The Explorers climbed back into the game early in the fourth, cutting the difference to seven before the Colonials once again responded with an 8-0 run of their own.
The win put the Colonials in the top half of the Atlantic 10 standings at 5-4 in conference play, with a pair of road games at St. Bonaventure and George Mason set for next week.
“We need to continue battling on the defensive end,” Tapias said. “Continue to do a good job of communicating and filling those gaps.”
The Colonials will face the Bonnies in Olean, N.Y. Wednesday afternoon. Tip-off is slated for 1:00 p.m.