Women’s basketball upsets VCU by one point

Media Credit: Lexus Levy takes a jump shot in last week's game against Saint Louis.

Redshirt junior guard Lexus Levy shoots over St. Louis defender in a game last week.

Junior guard Lexus Levy was fouled in the waning seconds of women’s basketball’s battle with VCU. In her first career start in 80 appearances, Levy walked to the line boasting a 100 percent free throw percentage.

She swished both shots, lifting the Colonials ahead by one point with 10 seconds on the clock. A strong defensive showing sealed the game, propelling GW to an upset victory over VCU Sunday.

The Colonials (10-13, 4-6 A-10) defeated the Rams (13-10, 8-2 A-10) 56–55 to hand VCU its second Atlantic 10 loss of the season. Despite trailing by 10 points early in the second quarter, the Colonials rallied the rest of the game and denied the Rams a last-second chance to steal the game.

Levy and graduate student forward Alexandra Maund led the team in scoring, netting nine points apiece. Nine different Colonials contributed offensively and 10 players played 18 or more minutes. On the defensive side, sophomore center Kayla Mokwuah led the team with 10 rebounds.

“When they started to press us, our team stayed really poised,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “I thought Sydney was excellent in terms of handling pressure and getting the ball to the right people out of the press.”

Levy started the game with a jump shot that put the Colonials on the board first, but the Rams quickly responded with a bucket of their own. GW kept up with precise shooting, converting 7-of-10 from the field while the Rams hit 7-of-15 attempts.

Both teams suffered behind the arc. The Colonials converted just 1-of-3 while the Rams sunk 1-of-5. By the end of the quarter, the score remained level at 16–16.

VCU opened the scoring in the second quarter as the Colonials’ shooting game suffered a steep drop-off, converting just 4-of-14 from the field and 1-of-3 behind the arc.

The Rams hit a stride, connecting on 5-of-12 to stretch their lead. Despite falling behind by 10 points with less than three minutes left, the Colonials rallied a seven-point scoring run to close out the half. The Colonials trailed 29–26 heading into the locker room.

Rizzotti implemented a new subbing strategy following the squad’s 59–55 loss to St. Bonaventure Thursday. She rotated all five players off the court throughout points of the game, replacing them with five fresh players off the bench.

“We’ve been in that position multiple times before this year, in the first half of games where we’ve gotten down and just stayed consistent,” Rizzotti said. “What we wanted to do is tighten some things up defensively to try to keep the rotations fresh today. So subbing a lot of guys in and out so that they can stay sharp and stay locked in.”

VCU opened the scoring in the third quarter for the second straight quarter. Junior guard Taya Robinson hit a three to push the lead to two possessions.

Freshman guard Essence Brown countered with a three-point basket of her own, quickly followed up by another three from redshirt freshman guard Tori Hyduke to gain the lead. After back-and-forth play, the Colonials pulled ahead, building a five-point lead heading into the final quarter.

The Colonials constructed a seven-point lead, their largest of the game, at the 6:41 mark. A crucial three-point shot put the Rams back in the game, trimming the lead to two possessions.

The Rams continued to attack and managed to find their way back on top after a pair of free throws from senior center Danielle Hammond. With less than 10 seconds remaining, Levy drew a foul and stepped up to the line.

She knocked down both free throws to maintain her perfect 4-of-4 record this season from the charity stripe to give the Colonials the lead. The Rams attempted to get one last shot off before the end of regulation, but lockdown defense by the Colonials forced the shot to ricochet off the rim.

The Colonials bounced back from the halftime deficit and came away with the win at 56–55. Rizzotti said the key to victory in the final minutes was preventing second-chance opportunities and winning rebounds.

“We talked about our execution staying sharp because their best offense is transitional offense,” Rizzotti said. “So we wanted to make sure that we had the opportunity to get our defense set.”

The Colonials begin a two-game home stint Wednesday against La Salle. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. at the Smith Center.

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