Preview: Women’s basketball at Rhode Island

Media Credit: Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

Freshman center Kayla Mokwuah jockeys for position under the basket before shooting in a game against Fordham earlier this month.

Who: Women’s basketball
Where: Ryan Center, Kingston, R.I.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m.

Women’s basketball (3-11, 0-1 A-10) hits the road to face Rhode Island (6-7, 1-0 A-10) for GW’s first conference road match.

The Colonials are looking for their first win of conference play following a 50–38 loss to Fordham, while Rhode Island is fresh off a conference win over Richmond 66–60.

Last season, the Colonials came out on top of their contest against Rhode Island 65–52 after 2018-graduate forward Kelli Prange put together the program’s best offensive performance in 20 years with a career-high 36 points – the fifth highest single-game point total in program history – and 13 rebounds.

Case for the Colonials:

The Colonials will be going up against a team that outplays them in almost every offensive category. Averaging 49.5 points per game compared to Rhode Island’s 62.4, GW needs to shore up its offensive production before facing the Rams.

Although the Colonials bested Rhode Island last season, they won’t have Prange’s production this time around. In their most recent game against Fordham, the Colonials’ leading scorers came off the bench in the form of sophomore forward Neila Luma and freshman center Kayla Mokwuah, who scored 12 and 13 points, respectively.

The Rams allowed Richmond – a team that averages 52.9 points per contest – to pick up 60 points in their last contest against the Spiders. With the Rams giving up 69.7 points per game, the Colonials should have an easier time picking up points against Rhode Island’s lenient defense if they can catch a spark on offense.

Sloppy ball handling has been one of the Rams’ weaknesses this season. Rhode Island averages 20 turnovers per game, with a -4.5 turnover margin, while GW averages 14.9 turnovers per game. The Colonials should look to up their aggression on defense and take advantage of the Rams’ turnover tendency. This could give the Colonials opportunities for second-chance points, which can make all the difference in close contests.

GW’s defense has been much stronger than its offense this year, particularly when it comes to limiting opponents from beyond the arc. Rhode Island’s 30.6 percent three-point shooting average tops the Colonials’, but with the Colonials limiting 27.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc, GW is perfectly situated to limit this source of offensive production for the Rams.

Case for the Rams:

The Rams’ win over Richmond snapped a five-game losing streak for Rhode Island, and their six-point win over a team that has only won three contests this season shows holes in Rhode Island’s defense.

Fresh off their first conference win, the Rams should be looking to maintain their level of offensive production heading into Wednesday’s match.

Three players on Rhode Island’s roster – junior center Nicole Jorgensen and junior guards Davida Dale and Elemy Colome – are averaging double-digit points per game, representing the kind of balanced offensive effort GW is lacking.

In the Rams’ last game against Richmond, Jorgensen collected a season-high 26 points en route to the win. Rhode Island will most likely be looking to put the ball in these players’ hands Wednesday to spark the team’s offense.

Rhode Island is also set to dominate the battle under the board. The Rams average 39.0 rebounds per game to GW’s 34.6, and will need to stymie the Colonials’ efforts down low on defense in order to keep the ball out of GW’s hands. If Rhode Island can capitalize on second-chance possessions, the team should be able to put up enough points to best the Colonials.

Bottom line:

GW will need to put together a complete offensive front against the Rams. If the Colonials get multiple players scoring, they should have no problem racking up points and nabbing the team’s first conference win.

On the other hand, if the Rams can limit their turnovers and shore up their defense, they are well-positioned to overtake GW. With a core of consistent, high-scoring juniors and a stronger offensive track record, Rhode Island carries the scoring edge heading into the matchup.

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