‘Tale of two halves’: Despite strong start, women’s basketball coughs up lead to Howard

Media Credit: File photo by Dean Whitelaw | Photographer

Junior guard Maddie Loder looks for an open teammate during a women's basketball game against Duquesne in February. Loder led the Colonials' game against Howard Sunday with 17 points, but they fell to the Bison.

With seven minutes left in the contest, freshman forward Anzhane’ Hutton hit a triple to propel Howard ahead for the first time in its battle with women’s basketball Sunday.

The squad would not give up its advantage as the clock ticked down, handing GW its third consecutive loss and its first fall to Howard since 1983. The Bison (3-0) topped the Colonials (2-3) 63–53 thanks to a 42–18 push in the second half.

“It’s two games now we’ve started off really locked in and really following the game plan,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “We just haven’t been able to sustain that level of focus and intensity for 40 minutes.”

Junior guard Maddie Loder led the team in scoring with 17 points. Sophomore guard Essence Brown and freshman center Ali Brigham, who notched a spot in the starting rotation for the first time this season, each snagged 11 rebounds apiece. Graduate student guard Jasmine Whitney also dished out six assists and nabbed three steals.

Freshman forward Kaiya Creek netted a floor-leading 23 points, including five buckets from beyond the arc. She scored all but one of Howard’s triples as the team shot at a .300 clip from deep. The Bison also finished the game firing at a .340 clip from the field.

Despite shooting over 37.5 percent from the field in the first half, GW cooled off in the second frame and finished the contest hitting 26.7 percent from the floor. The team netted just 3-of-18 shots from three-point land.

Turnovers plagued both teams throughout the contest as GW and Howard turned the ball over a combined 47 times. Of the Colonials’ 23 turnovers, 15 came in the second half.

Brown ripped an offensive board within the first minute, and Brigham started the scoring off with a layup in the paint on a dish from Whitney. Howard responded with a layup of its own, but GW kept the squad at a two-point distance within the first three minutes.

A seven-point tilt put the Colonials ahead by nine with less than four minutes to play in the frame. Creek and sophomore forward Brooklynn Fort-Davis combined for the final nine Howard points to claw the Bison back into contention and finish the quarter down just 18–14.

In the second quarter, Howard kept pace with the team, hovering within two possessions. The Colonials turned on the gas with just less than five minutes in the frame after Whitney hit a jumper. The team found its rhythm and netted 7-of-19 from the field, while the Bison converted just 3-of-11, relinquishing nine turnovers.

GW went on an 11-0 run, holding Howard without a bucket for a five-minute span to put the half to rest ahead 35–21. The Colonials committed just nine fouls in the first half and held the Bison to only six second-chance points.

“Our game plan was predicated on not fouling, and making sure we box out and limited their second chance opportunities,” Rizzotti said. “Other than a short stretch at the end of the first quarter, we pretty much did that in the first half, which is why we had a 14-point lead. We were able to play in transition, we didn’t have to worry about their press and we were able to tire them out and not let the game stop.”

The Bison came out roaring in the second half and converted two early threes to go on a 13-0 scoring run, pulling within just one point of the lead. The Colonials tried to keep the stampede at bay, but they surrendered nine turnovers and netted 2-of-15 attempts from the floor by the quarter’s end.

Howard held GW to five points in the frame – its lowest scoring quarter of the season. Both teams were knotted at 40 heading into the fourth.

“We started to force it into the post,” Rizzotti said. “And the post has been our bread and butter, so I appreciate that. They wanted to get it in there, but we were literally continuing to throw it to Howard and igniting their break and then putting us on the defensive.”

Loder and freshman forward Caranda Perea combined for three points to push GW in front again. But the Bison captured the lead for the first time with six and a half minutes remaining off a three-point bucket and didn’t look back. Loder and redshirt junior forward Neila Luma combined for four points to keep the team within two possessions, but Howard charged onward.

The Bison hit 6-of-10 from the floor in the frame, riding a 13-6 tilt in the final three minutes straight into the win column. The Colonials continued their offensive woes in the fourth quarter, hitting just 3-of-20 from the field and 0-of-6 from beyond the arc. GW struggled to find a spark and watched the game slip away 63–53 at the final buzzer.

“The second half was like the tale of two halves,” Rizzotti said. “It was the complete opposite. We fouled a bunch, we let the game slow down, we had to play against their full court pressure and then we just got really discouraged.”

The Colonials will look to bounce back against Delaware Dec. 20 at the Smith Center. Tipoff is slated for noon.

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