Women’s basketball falls to George Mason in Atlantic 10 opener

Women’s basketball opened Atlantic 10 play with a loss to George Mason, extending its losing streak to five games.

The Patriots (7-7, 1-0 A-10) bested the Colonials (6-8, 0-1 A-10) at Eaglebank Arena last week, winning the contest 70–60. Assistant coach Kevin Demille said the Colonials wanted to get the ball in the hands of their post players to open the floor for its perimeter shooters, but the team strayed away from its game plan in the second half.

“Our goal is to try to get them as many touches in the paint as we can,” Demille said. “In the first quarter, they sagged in a lot. They know those guys shoot the highest percentage on our team, so it gave our shooters a bunch of opportunities to kick it out, and I think we just struggled to stay in that rhythm.”

Despite the 10-point deficit, GW held the lead heading into the half largely because of strong outside shooting. The squad sunk 6-of-14 from deep, outpacing the Patriots’ 4-of-11 shooting. From the field, GW netted 13-of-28 and George Mason connected on 14-of-26.

Redshirt junior Sydney Zambrotta, graduate student forward Alexandra Maund and sophomore center Kayla Mokwuah finished the game in double figures. Zambrotta and Maund notched a double-digit finish for the second straight outing after netting 11 and 10 points, respectively, against William and Mary.

Freshman forward Faith Blethen opened up the scoring sheet with a bucket from deep. George Mason responded with a layup down low, but Blethen hit another triple to extend GW’s lead to four points. Redshirt junior Sydney Zambrotta joined Blethen from beyond the arc, notching three points of her own.

The Patriots lagged behind for the quarter, coming within one point at the 5:22 mark. But the Colonials worked the ball inside the paint and outside the perimeter, gaining offense from both spots, to keep the Patriots at bay. GW entered the break with a four point lead.

The game grew tighter in the second quarter, and George Mason hovered within one point with less than eight minutes left to play. The squad went on a six-point run to notch a 30–23 lead. The Patriots cut the deficit down to three, but a triple from redshirt freshman guard Tori Hyduke padded the Colonials lead back up to six.

The three-point bucket was Hyduke’s only basket of the game. On the day, she shot 1-of-6 from the field and 1-of-3 from deep. On the season, she averages a team-leading 11.7 points.

George Mason dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Colonials by 13 points and going on a 20-point run to take its first lead of the night. Freshman forward Tamia Lawhorne led the charge for the Patriots, netting 15 of her floor-leading 22 points during the run.

Demille said on the defensive end, the Colonials wanted to limit senior guard and forward Jacy Bolton, senior guard Sarah Kiminski and 2018-19 A-10 Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Nicole Cardaño-Hillary. The trio averages 34.6 points per game. The squad held Bolton and Kaminski to seven and five points, respectively, but Cardaño-Hillary took 18 points.

Demille added that Lawhorne, who averages six points a game, delineated from her normal playing patterns and took advantage of the Colonials’ defense.

“She did some things that she’s not typically doing in their games, so that threw us a little bit,” Demille said. “She took advantage of the opportunity that she found when we were focusing our defense on someone else, and she knocked in shots when she was open, and she crashed the glass. She drove it hard to the rim, and she made her free throws.”

The Colonials were scoreless for five minutes, missing nine shots in that span. In the third quarter, the Colonials sunk just 18.8 percent of its attempts from the field.

“We didn’t match their intensity to start the second half,” Demille said. “So not only were we struggling to get stops that we got in the first half, we were also struggling to put the ball in the basket and they really buckled down and packed their defense in a little bit.”

Sophomore guard Lexus Levy ended George Mason’s run with a three pointer, and the Colonials began chipping away at the 14-point lead. Another triple from Levy and a free-throw from Maund brought the deficit down to 10 points with one quarter left to play.

In the fourth quarter, the Colonials sawed the lead down to eight. They sunk 6-of-16 shots from the field and went cold from beyond the arc for the fourth straight game, missing all five of their attempts.

George Mason finished the fourth quarter shooting 26.7 percent from the field and 20 percent from deep but kept the Colonials afloat and ended the game with a 70–60 victory.

The Colonials will look to snap their five-game skid against Duquesne Wednesday. Tipoff is slated for 11 a.m.

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