Women’s basketball capped its nonconference season with a loss to William and Mary, building a four-game losing streak heading into Atlantic 10 play.
The Tribe (8-3) defeated the Colonials (6-7) 63–51 in a tale of two halves. The Colonials coughed up a nine-point halftime lead and allowed William and Mary to net 21 points in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback.
“These are the experiences I need my team to learn from if we’re going to win the A-10 and we’re going to be competitive every night,” head coach Jeniffer Rizzotti said. “We need to take every experience against every one of these teams that we’ve just played over the last 13 games and make sure that it makes us better.”
Redshirt junior guard Sydney Zambrotta led the team with 11 points, followed by redshirt freshman guard Tori Hyduke and graduate student forward Alexandra Maund with 10 points apiece. Maund also led the team with seven rebounds, and redshirt freshman forward Mayowa Taiwo followed behind with six.
The Colonials came out hot, shooting 4-of-6 from the field to rack up nine unanswered points early on. After a jumper from Hyduke, the Tribe called a timeout with seven minutes remaining in the quarter to stymie GW’s momentum.
The squad refused to take its foot off the gas, increasing its tempo on the attack and shooting 53.3 percent from the field to end the quarter. The Tribe lagged behind, firing at a .286 clip from the floor. The Colonials also sunk 4-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc and the Tribe netted 2-of-8.
The Colonials converted eight points from five William and Mary turnovers and conceded two points from four of their own turnovers. By the end of the quarter, the Colonials held a 20–12 lead.
“I thought we were definitely focused on moving the ball well in the first half,” Rizzotti said. “They came out in a zone and I thought we did a great job of attacking it, which I’m really pleased about because we haven’t seen the zone since probably Delaware.”
The team maintained its momentum in the second quarter, hitting 6-of-14 shots from the field while the Tribe sunk 5-of-15. The Colonials continued to clog the passing lanes, forcing the Tribe to shoot from the perimeter.
The squad seized its largest lead of the game at the six minute mark of the second frame, holding a 14 point surplus. Both the Colonials and the Tribe struggled with three-point shots, firing at .250 and .333 clips, respectively. The Colonials led 33–24 heading into the locker room.
Despite a dominant first half, the Tribe set the tone for the second half, scoring five unanswered points in the opening minutes. William and Mary cut the deficit to three, resulting in a GW timeout. The Tribe cut the lead to one with less than five minutes to play, but freshman forward Faith Blethen kept the lead alive with a triple and a point from the charity stripe.
“In the second quarter and beyond, we got a little stagnant in our offense,” Rizzotti said. “We’ve just got to be better about moving the basketball and trusting our offense, hitting the open guy and trusting that whatever the defense gives us is what we’re going to get. And sometimes we get a little bit impatient.”
The Tribe switched from a zone defense to high press and man-to-man in the final quarter. William and Mary and GW amassed seven and five fouls, respectively. Zambrotta and sophomore center Kayla Mokwuah accumulated three fouls apiece before heading into the final quarter.
“We obviously talked a lot about not fouling because they’re an excellent team on the free throw line, and we didn’t do a great job in the second half of defending without fouling,” Rizzotti said.
By the end of the third quarter, the Tribe had pulled back within one point of the Colonials at 43–42.
William and Mary led the nation in free throws heading into the game at 84 percent, a statistic the team notched with the help of Eva Hodgson’s .945 free throw percentage. Hodgson led the floor with 23 points in the final quarter by the game’s end.
“When she did get opportunities to score, she took advantage, and when she was open, her guys hit her,” Rizzotti said. “It’s something, again, that we have to allow our offense to do for us, and we can’t miss our hot hands.”
The Colonials’ offensive production dropped in the final quarter, converting only 1-of-8 attempts while the Tribe hit 7-of-13. At the sound of the final buzzer, GW trailed by 12 to drop its final nonconference game 63–51.
The Colonials will travel to George Mason Saturday for their first conference matchup. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.