Strong first-half defense and impressive long-range shooting boosted women’s basketball past Duquesne on the road Sunday.
But the win did not come easy. Duquesne scored 34 points – and held the Colonials to just 11 – during a 12-minute second-half stretch, cutting GW’s lead to just one point.
A last-second shot from the Dukes (11-9, 5-2 A-10) missed the mark, allowing the Colonials (8-12, 5-2 A-10) to escape with a 55–54 victory.
The win over the Duquesne – the Atlantic 10’s No. 2 ranked team entering the contest – continued their trend of strong play against the conference’s top squads. Last week, GW pulled off an upset win over No. 1-ranked VCU at home.
Three-point shooting was a key component in GW’s victory Sunday. Thirty-three of GW’s points came from beyond the arc, more than double Dukes’ 15-point showing from the three-point line. As a team, GW shot 40.7 percent from beyond the arc on the day.
Senior guard Mei-Lyn Bautista led the floor with 20 points, 18 of which came from her six three-point makes. The outing marked her fourth consecutive double-digit scoring night and second consecutive 20-point performance.
Senior forward Kelsi Mahoney pulled her first double-double of the season, collecting a season-high 17 points and 11 rebounds in the win.
“They definitely started out with a specific mindset in terms of being aggressive and ready to shoot,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “It certainly makes us a much better team, not just when we’re knocking down threes, but when our seniors are really locked in.”
An athletic department spokesman declined to provide interviews with athletes postgame, citing a department policy.
The Colonials’ offense was clicking in the first quarter, piling on 16 points and shooting 57.1 percent beyond the arc. Bautista earned nine of GW’s 16 points in the first quarter alone – equal to Duquesne’s total as a team.
GW showed no signs of stopping in the second quarter, opening the frame with a 6-0 run to grow its lead to 22–9. The Colonials’ zone defense prevented the Dukes from penetrating deep into the key and coming within easy scoring distance. They allowed just five points in the second frame.
A shot-clock-beating triple from Bautista closed out the first half, giving GW a 27–14 lead entering the locker rooms.
In the second half, Duquesne found some momentum – but it was gradual. The Dukes more than doubled their first half total with 15 points in the third quarter, but ended up deeper in a hole after GW’s 19-point quarter increased its lead to as many as 24-points.
By the fourth, Duquesne’s offense caught fire – outscoring GW 25–9. After slowly chipping away at the Colonials’ advantage, the Dukes sunk a layup and forced a turnover with 30 seconds to play to garner possession of the ball in a one-possession game. But two botched shots by the Dukes and a free throw from Mahoney preserved the tight victory for GW.
“We’re certainly not used to playing with a 20-point lead, that hasn’t been something we’ve experienced this year, so I think our team got a little bit tentative and played probably more to protect the lead rather than to win the game,” Rizzotti said. “So that’s the danger of that.”
The Colonials will return to action against Davidson at the Smith Center Thursday at noon.