Saint Louis stymies women’s basketball’s win streak

Redshirt guard Syndey Zambrotta drives toward the basket in Sunday's game against Saint Louis.

Less than five minutes into the first half, sophomore guard Myia Clark drained a three, then tacked on three more points to seal a lead over women’s basketball that helped decide Saint Louis’ win.

The Colonials (9-12, 3-5 A-10) couldn’t erase the third-quarter deficit, snapping its two-game win streak and dropping a 59–45 contest to the Billikens (12-9, 4-4 A-10).

“Credit to Saint Louis, I thought they shot the lights out from three,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “I hope that doesn’t happen too much against us the rest of this year. They won some 50-50 balls down the stretch when we really needed to get a stop, and then obviously their point guards are a really tough check for us.”

On the season, the Billikens shoot 33.6 percent from deep. But against the Colonials, Saint Louis drained 56.3 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc on 9-of-16 shooting. GW hit just 4-of-20 from three-point territory, down from its season average of 31.3 percent.

Redshirt junior guard Sydney Zambrotta led the team with 16 points followed by sophomore center Kayla Mokwuah with 12 points. Both players came off the bench in Sunday’s outing.

On the other side of the court, freshman guard and forward Rachel Kent poured on 19 points, hitting 6-of-8 attempts from behind the arc over the course of the game.

“She had a really quick release,” Zambrotta said. “She moved really well off the ball. So we didn’t really do a good job finding her throughout when they were on offense, and we were on defense. All credit to her. She’s a great shooter, but we definitely struggled finding her on the perimeter and being there on the closeout.”

Saint Louis opened the game with a steal, picking off redshirt freshman guard Tori Hyduke and returning it for a layup. Redshirt freshman forward Mayowa Taiwo responded with a layup of her own a minute later to even the score.

The Colonials went 6-of-17 from the field, while the Billikens went 6-of-14 in a back-and-forth quarter. Despite getting several looks off screens, the Colonials went 3-of-10 from beyond the arc, while the Billikens converted 2-of-3.

Zambrotta drained a three-point bucket to draw the Colonials and Billikens level at 15 before the conclusion of the first quarter.

The Billikens struck first again in the second quarter, hitting a three-pointer from the corner to reestablish their lead. The Colonials came within one point twice in the second quarter but could not break through.

The Billikens continued to amass points from deep, hitting 3-of-5 attempts to inch in front. Freshman forward Faith Blethen prevented the Billikens from routing the Colonials early on, hustling for the ball after a steal from the Billikens. By the end of the half, the Colonials trailed by two possessions.

“Their shooters had a really quick release so we just needed to be there, meaning be prepared to be there and anticipate the shot,” Mokwauh said.

The Billikens started the second half with another hit from deep and proceeded to go on a 9-0 scoring run. The Colonials burned a timeout to stifle some of the momentum, and Zambrotta hit a shot to end the run at the 5:14 mark.

Mokwuah said the team needed to be more patient on the offensive side of the ball.

“We definitely talked about being more patient in the post position and the guard position,” Mokwuah said. “Just hitting people when they’re open and just executing our plays better and running what works.”

Despite going 3-of-14 from the field and 0-of-3 from beyond the arc, the Colonials found some momentum of their own in the waning minutes of the quarter. A block from Mokwuah led to a layup from Taiwo, but sophomore guard Ciaja Harbison sunk a triple to end the quarter and left the Colonials trailing at 46–38.

The Colonials came out hot to start the fourth quarter and chip away at the lead. GW started a high press, and Zambrotta earned a steal and a bucket. Blethen also nabbed the ball and dished it to Taiwo for a layup, decreasing the deficit to 11.

The Billikens settled back in as Kent hit her final three-point shot of the game at the 3:38 mark to stymie the Colonial comeback. The Colonials went 5-of-11 from the field, but the Billikens ran out the clock to land on top of the Colonials 59–45.

“I actually thought over the course of the game, our execution wasn’t bad,” Rizzotti said. “We only had nine turnovers, but we have to be able to make shots and finish plays, whether it’s through contact or somebody running at us or having a quick short-term memory of the shot you just missed and being able to step up and make the next one.”

The Colonials are back in action on the road Thursday against St. Bonaventure. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.

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