Colonials pick up three-point victory in final road game of the regular season

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Ethan Stoler | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior guard Camila Tapias controls the ball during a women's basketball game against George Mason earlier in February.

Women’s basketball defeated Saint Joseph’s 49–46 Tuesday night in a wire-to-wire outing that came down to the last possession.

The Colonials were led by senior duo Camila Tapias and Brianna Cummings, who each scored 11 points and sunk critical buckets in the final minutes.

Both teams struggled from the perimeter, with GW making just four of their 17 attempts and the Hawks connecting on three of their 12. Instead, it was a hotly contested battle in the paint and on the boards that decided the result.

“We definitely knew that the physicality was there for Saint Joseph’s,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “So we tried to mix up our defenses and play a bunch of zone so that we could box out and help with multiple defenders.”

GW used the charity stripe as a weapon, where the Colonials knocked down all 11 of their attempts.

The Colonials are now 6-1 this month, after finishing 7-0 in February last year.

The win moves the Colonials into sole possession of fifth place in the Atlantic 10 conference standings, with a chance to move up to fourth if George Mason falls to Dayton Wednesday evening.

“Our team has grown a lot,” Rizzotti said. “And the resiliency this team has shown to get two straight tough road wins is huge for us.”

Rizzotti’s team got sloppy at the beginning of the night, where they turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions and watched the Hawks take the lead on the strength of an 8-0 run.

“I just told them it was unacceptable,” Rizzotti said. “Our success this year has been our ability to get stops and rebounds, and then not turn the ball over on the offensive end. So we had to take better care of the basketball.”

The Colonials used a 6-0 run to close the first quarter and trailed by just a single point. The momentum continued in the second quarter behind the play of Tapias and freshman forward Neila Luma, who each tallied four points in the frame and helped stake GW to seven-point halftime lead.

The Colonials found success when they were able to get out in transition, scoring on fast breaks and slip cuts before the Hawks could set their defense.

“They did a good job of matching up with us and guarding some of our cuts,” Rizzotti said. “So when we had the opportunity to run we did a nice job of beating them down the floor.”

In the third quarter, GW ramped up the defensive pressure in the paint, swarming Saint Joseph’s forwards Adashia Franklin and Amanda Fioravanti every time they touched the ball.

The two teams combined for just 18 total points in the quarter, with the Colonials still leading by seven heading into the final period.

The Hawks would make their run early in the fourth quarter. A pair of threes from junior guard Sarah Veilleux opened up the paint for Franklin and Fioravanti as the Hawks tied the game.

In the fourth quarter, with both teams in the midst of a scoring drought, Tapias drilled a three-pointer in transition to regain the lead.

After a free throw and a score from the Hawks tied the game once again, Cummings gave GW a decisive advantage after she scored a runner in the lane, plus the foul.

“Coach Rizzotti told me, ‘make sure that you are asking for the ball if it is tied toward the end of the game,’” Cummings said. “We want the ball in the seniors’ hands when the game is on the line.”

The Hawks had one final chance to tie the game with three seconds left, but Veilleux’s attempt from the corner missed.

The Colonials will wrap up regular-season play against Richmond Saturday afternoon at the Smith Center for Senior Day. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.

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