On women’s basketball’s second offensive possession Tuesday, graduate student forward Alexandra Maund grabbed the rebound and launched a cross-court pass into redshirt freshman guard Tori Hyduke’s hands. Hyduke nailed the triple to open up the Colonials’ scoring sheet.
The first scoring play was a precursor of baskets to come, as the Colonials (13-15, 7-8 A-10) trounced the Rams (13-14, 6-9 A-10) 73–56. GW put itself in contention for the No. 4 seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament and maintained its perfect 25-0 record against the Rams at the Smith Center.
“We’ve been talking all year about letting the offense work for us and continuing to work hard to find the open guy and not worrying about who’s scoring, just worry about getting a great shot,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “I thought that today was the epitome of that. We worked the ball around, we shared the ball, we had different guys scoring.”
Ten Colonials played 11 or more minutes throughout the contest, and four members of GW’s squad finished in double-digits.
Sophomore center Kayla Mokwuah led the team in scoring with 18 points, matching a career-high on 9-of-11 shooting in just 15 minutes of action. Maund followed closely behind with 16 points. Hyduke also had 12 points on the night, hitting 4-of-5 shots from deep and 66.7 percent of her total shots.
The first quarter was a hard-fought 15–15 stalemate. In the final minute, Mokwuah snagged her own offensive rebound and converted a reverse layup. The shot gave GW a slim three-point lead with 22 seconds left. But Rhode Island’s redshirt senior guard Davida Dale silenced the home crowd with a game-tying triple as time expired.
On the defensive end, the Colonials prevented Dale and senior center Nicole Jorgensen, who Rizzotti said made up one of the best duos in the A-10, from taking over the game. Rizzotti added that she relied heavily on freshmen forward Faith Blethen and guard Essence Brown to lock up the duo and hold them to 23 combined points, down from their average 28.5 combined points per game.
The Colonials’ focus on containing Jorgenson and Dale paid dividends in rebounds. The pair took five boards each, down from their team-leading combined 16.3 rebounds per game. The Rams, who snatch a league-leading 43.4 rebounds per game, combined for 24 total compared to the Colonials’ 33 boards.
“Alex and I were just looking to deny her the ball as much as we could box her out, let the guards get the rebounds, just make sure we box her out,” Mokwuah said. “She’s looking to rebound all the time.”
The second quarter was a shootout from start to finish, as Rhode Island’s redshirt junior guard Erin Jones buried a three to open the scoring and take a three-point lead. After a back-and-forth tussle, redshirt junior guard Sydney Zambrotta ended the half with a three-point play, hitting the shot and the attempt from the charity stripe.
GW seized the lead back and entered the locker room up 39–38. Both teams filled the stat sheet with threes in the second, but the Colonials shot a more efficient 75 percent from the arc, topping the Ram’s 37.5 percent throughout the quarter.
“We just found the open man and we ran what we wanted and we got what we wanted,” Hyduke said. “We pounded it into the paint, and we scored from the paint, and we scored from the three-point line and we scored off of rebounds. It just seemed everything was going our way because of how hard we were playing, and we were making the right decisions.”
Despite the slim lead entering the second half, the Colonials put on another strong shooting performance in the opening minutes of the third quarter and led by 13 with 5:03 left in the frame. GW contested every shot and sunk 7-of-12 for a 58.3 percent clip.
Despite connecting on 4-of-13 from the floor and 1-of-8 from beyond the arc throughout the frame, the Rams strung together a seven-point run to narrow the gap to six points with one quarter remaining.
While each of GW’s 10 players finished the night with double-digit minutes, the Rams played just eight players, and seven finished with double-digit minutes. By the final frame, the Rams were gassed, and the Colonials outscored them 19–8 to finish the fight.
The Colonials ended the game with a 57.9 percent clip from the floor and a 46.2 percent clip from beyond the arc. The Rams rounded out the night shooting 40 percent from the floor and 20.8 percent from three-point territory.
“Our depth really helped us late,” Rizzotti said. “I thought they were tired late in the game, and they weren’t making as many shots as they were making early. And that certainly worked in our favor.”
The Colonials return to the Smith Center Saturday for their regular season finale against Richmond. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.