Women’s basketball could not find its footing against Villanova Thursday night.
The Colonials (2-7) came within one point of their opponent but never held a lead against the Wildcats (6-2), losing 60–45. The disappointing offensive performance saw GW end the game shooting 29.6 percent on the night.
Head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said she is putting her team through tough matchups early in the season to prepare for Atlantic 10 play in January, but the Colonials have had a rocky non-conference start and have yet to string together two wins in a row.
The Wildcats scored 18 points in the paint, but did most of their damage from the perimeter, sinking 10 three-point shots. Villanova’s defense also shut out GW in the paint, liming the Colonials to just four points from the interior. Early in the game, the shot clock often dwindled to just a few seconds remaining, forcing the Colonials to take low-percentage shots.
“They’re a good experienced defensive team, they play a slower style that limits your offensive opportunities,” Rizzotti said. “We started to press and take bad shots, so we clearly need to mature in that area.”
Senior guard Mei-Lyn Bautista again led the Colonials with 18 points while dishing out five assists. Sophomore forward Neila Luma came just shy of a double-double, tallying 14 points and nine rebounds.
Rizzotti said Bautista and Luma are leading the pack because they have been successful in shaking opponents and creating their own shot on the court, but the rest of the team is struggling to get open on the floor.
“Nobody else on our team can do that yet,” Rizzotti said. “So some of these guys, they need the offense to work for them.”
Villanova senior guard Adrianna Hahn matched Bautista with an 18-point performance for the Wildcats. All of her points came from beyond the arc.
The visitors attempted 34 three-point shots, while the Colonials put up 24 of their own. The game took a slower pace with Villanova scoring two fast-break points while holding GW to none on the night.
“They don’t typically run the fast break, and they don’t typically shoot a lot of free throws because they shoot a lot of threes,” Rizzotti said. “For us, I’d like to get more fast break points, it’s just not necessarily who we are right now.”
The Wildcats scored five of their first six shots in the first frame, while GW shot just 23.5 percent from the floor and 12.5 percent from beyond the arc. The Colonials were slow out of the gate and limited to nine points in the first quarter.
The Colonials’ defense tightened up and allowed just two baskets in the final four minutes, including a three from Hahn, to limit Villanova’s advantage to 13-9 heading into the second quarter.
The start of the second quarter looked promising for the Colonials. A three from senior forward Kelsi Mahoney and a slick layup from Luma reduced GW’s deficit to just one point 15-14.
But a 13–2 Wildcats run soon followed, inspired by a trio of three-pointers from senior forward Jannah Tucker, and squashing any chance of a lead change.
GW spared its blushes in the final minute of the half. Bautista and Mahoney both sank triples, assisted by each other, to cut Villanova’s lead to 28-22 heading into the locker room.
The Wildcats were the more efficient team shooting 44.4 percent from the field while limiting GW to just 31.0 percent in the opening half.
Neither team found consistent accuracy from beyond the arc, with both sides failing to surpass 30.0 percent shooting. Both teams made four three-pointers in the first half but Villanova outscored the Colonials 10-2 in the paint in the first half.
“They got a lot of open looks,” Luma said. “When we would turn our heads they would find the opportunity. We just need to be more aware of that.”
The Wildcats began the second half on a 8–0 run powered by a pair of three-pointers from Hahn, shocking the Colonials and prompting Rizzotti to take an early timeout.
“She’s a great shooter and that’s always something hard to guard,” Bautista said. “It just takes more determination to not give them the shots that they want.”
GW continued to struggle offensively in the third quarter. A layup from Luma and a triple from Bautista were the only two field goals scored by the Colonials.
Villanova led 41–30 entering the final frame thanks to six points from Hahn and seven from junior forward Mary Gedaka in the third quarter. Gedaka dominated around the rim in her 28 minutes for the Wildcats, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
The fourth quarter was eventful on both sides of the ball for GW. While the Colonials put up a game-high 15 points in the frame, the Wildcats scored 19 points of their own and led by as many as 18.
Bautista notched seven points in the final quarter while Hahn rained down nine points of her own to keep the Colonials at arm’s length.
“These kind of games are forcing them to figure out how to stay focused for longer,” Rizzotti said.
GW hits the road to take on Southern Florida Sunday. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.