Women’s basketball hits wall in A-10 play

Media Credit: File photo by Tyara Estrada | Photographer

Freshman center Kayla Mokwuah goes up for a layup during a women's basketball game against Saint Louis earlier this month.

After dominating conference play on a stretch of six games with five wins, women’s basketball has hit a wall.

GW showed promise at the start of Atlantic 10 play upsetting VCU and Duquesne – the top two teams in the league at the time. But now the Colonials (8-16, 5-6 A-10) are riding a four-game losing streak in the back half of their A-10 schedule, spurred by sloppy play in the final 10 minutes of play.

The Colonials, the third-worst team nationally in scoring offense with 50.5 points per game, have been hampered by turnovers in the final 10 minutes of play. The team is averaging five turnovers in the fourth quarter and committing 35.0 percent of its total turnovers in the final frame in its last four games.

In the stretch where they went 5-1, the Colonials were committing an average of 2.8 fourth-quarter turnovers – fewer than the 3.6 turnovers they averaged in each of the other quarters.

“Unfortunately there hasn’t been the mindset of, ‘what are we going to do to get out of this slump?’” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said after the team’s loss to Saint Joseph’s Sunday. “We’re just coming back with the same mindset, the same energy, every day and I’m looking for them to come back with something different.”

The Colonials have averaged 42.5 points per game in the last four contests – nearly 15 points lower than their 57.3 points per game average in the three games prior.

With the A-10 Championship rapidly approaching, Rizzotti said her team will have to start sharpening its offensive play at the end of games if they hope to defend their conference title in March.

“Even in the games we’ve won we haven’t put together 40 competitive minutes,” Rizzotti said after the team’s loss to George Mason. “You can’t be successfully good on a consistent basis if you’re not outcompeting and outworking your opponent.”

The first loss of the team’s four-game skid was a 62–42 defeat at the hands of Davidson last month. Although the Colonials scored 22 points in the second half, two more than they did in the first, the game was wrapped up with a cold offensive effort that pulled together just nine points in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over four times in the final 10 minutes of play.

Giveaways again plagued the Colonials against Saint Louis Feb. 3 in a 60–44 loss. GW was down by just one point at halftime against the Billikens, but a 20-point third quarter for Saint Louis paired with six GW turnovers in the fourth quarter halted any chance of a comeback.

The Colonials shot 42.6 percent from the floor in the second half of that match, showing they had the firepower to chase down the Billikens, but the possessions they gave up limited opportunities and interrupted offensive rhythm.

“I thought it was just a lack of focus, to be honest with you. We got sloppy,” Rizzotti said after the game. “We shot 50 percent in the fourth quarter so it definitely would have been nice if we could have gotten six more shots.”

In a 61–46 loss to George Mason Feb. 6, stifling defense held a Patriots team that averages 65.8 points per game to 26 points in the second half but miscues on offense saw GW’s strong defensive effort go to waste.

After scoring 16 points in the third quarter and narrowing the deficit to 46–37, the Colonials shot 36.6 percent and committed six turnovers in the fourth quarter. Carelessness with the ball had the Colonials notching just nine points in the final frame, while the Patriots scored 18 points off turnovers to GW’s seven during the match.

“We just need to be more confident with the ball,” freshman center Kayla Mokwuah said after the loss to George Mason. “I think on offense we just need to execute better and stop thinking so much and on defense. We just need to stick to the game plan.

The Colonials notched a 41–38 defeat defined by an inability to score clutch buckets down the stretch against Saint Joseph’s Sunday. Despite scoring 14 points in the final frame, GW tallied just three of those points in the final 5:30 of the game to allow the Hawks to escape with the win.

“We definitely need to take care of the ball, that’s going to be big,” redshirt sophomore forward Olivia Gumbs said. “I think a lot of them were traveling violations from everyone on the floor so just slowing ourselves down and making sure that we’re taking care of the ball, it’s an easy fix.”

With just five games remaining in the regular season – three of which are on the road – before the start of the A-10 Championship, the Colonials are currently eighth in conference standings and will rematch against Dayton, Duquesne and Richmond in their final stretch.

GW is in the middle of a seven-day break for the first time since A-10 play began, and Rizzotti said the extra time will be used to rest and refocus for the remainder of the schedule.

“We need a couple days off, you know, we got some guys banged up. It’ll be nice after Sunday to have a full week where we’re not playing,” Rizzotti said after the George Mason game. “It’s like we haven’t been able to catch our breath.”

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