After battling through a tough second quarter, women’s basketball picked up a win Wednesday night against Massachusetts.
The Colonials (13-12, 8-5 A-10) ended the night strong as they closed the half on a 15-0 run and carried their momentum to secure a 55–49 win over the Minutewomen (11-15, 3-10 A-10) at the Smith Center.
GW’s frontcourt controlled the game with forwards senior Kelli Prange, junior Kelsi Mahoney and freshman Neila Luma combining for 27 of the team’s 40 rebounds on the night. The Colonials found room to work the inside-out game in the middle of Massachusetts’ zone defense.
“When our bigs got the ball in the middle they did a nice job of knowing when to pass and knowing when to shoot,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “And we’ve done a good job of taking care of the ball, which has been key to this run we’ve been on.”
Prange was at the center of action as she tallied her 1,000th point with a jumper late in the third quarter, adding 11 points on the night.
“It is just jaw dropping to me and astonishing that I am apart of something so big,” Prange said. “But I also look at it from the aspect of helping the team win, not just the personal aspect.”
Junior point guard Mei-Lyn Bautista scored a team-high 15 points, going 5-for-8 from beyond the arc on the night. Bautista has a 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio – good for second in the Atlantic 10 – and hasn’t turned the ball over more than twice in a game in GW’s last five outings.
After losing a tightly-contested game against Dayton Sunday, GW has now won five of its last seven contests. The Colonials have gone 23–0 against the Minutewomen at home.
Both teams struggled to gain control of the game in the first quarter. The Colonials were unable to get shots against the Minutewomen’s zone defense, while Massachusetts couldn’t take care of the basketball.
Then the Colonials began to find success on offense, with Luma and Mahoney getting into the middle of the zone and kicking to shooters. Mahoney ended the night with a game-high five dimes to her name.
On the other side, Massachusetts freshman guard Bre Hampton-Bey and senior center Maggie Mulligan provided the offense for the Minutewomen as they asserted their will in the paint. Massachusetts outscored GW 32–12 in the paint on the night.
But the second quarter began with an early defensive adjustment with Rizzotti switching from a zone defense to man-to-man coverage. To keep Hampton-Bey out of the lane, Rizzotti matched senior guard Brianna Cummings up with the freshman.
“It is a nice luxury to have Bri out there because she can guard one through four positions and take care of one player by herself,” Rizzotti said.
With Cummings defending Hampton-Bey, the Colonials held the Minutewomen scoreless for the last five minutes of the second quarter, swarming them with defensive pressure.
A buzzer-beating three-point shot from Bautista capped the GW run to give the Colonials a 30–17 lead at the half.
GW continued to score the ball efficiently in the third quarter, shooting at a 42.9 percent clip from the field.
The Minutewomen cut the lead to single digits in the fourth quarter behind poor shooting from the Colonials and a late full-court press that gave GW trouble.
But Luma secured a pair of offensive rebounds in the quarter to give GW crucial extra possessions and helped put the game beyond the Minutewomen’s reach.
“I’ve always had the mindset of going after every rebound,” Luma said. “I feel like that’s my role on this team, so I wanted to be as aggressive as I could.”
GW ended the night shooting 34.4 percent from the field and held Massachusetts to just 16.7 percent from beyond the arc.
The Colonials hit the road to take on the Saint Louis Billikens Saturday. Tip off is slated for 3 p.m.