Within the first minute of Sunday’s matchup between women’s basketball and George Mason, redshirt junior guard Gabby Nikitinaite nailed a jumper to put GW on the board. The squad would never give up its lead, catapulting it as high as 28 points.
The Colonials (3-7, 1-4 A-10) bulldozed the Patriots (3-9, 0-5 A-10) by 20 points, snapping a four-game losing skid. The 67–47 win marks the team’s first Atlantic 10 victory and first win on the road.
“I like to think that it doesn’t matter where we play as long as we continue to get better and continue to get wins, but it certainly feels nice to not only get the first conference win but the first road win for the season as well,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said.
Freshman center Ali Brigham led the floor in scoring and notched 18 points. She tacked on three rebounds and a career-high three blocks. Redshirt junior forward Neila Luma and Nikitinaite, the redshirt junior guard, followed behind with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Nikitinaite and freshman forward Caranda Perea ripped seven boards apiece, while graduate student guard Jasmine Whitney dished six assists.
Senior guard Marika Korpinen led the Patriots with 13 points on 40 percent shooting, including three of the team’s five three-pointers. Sophomore guard Jordan Wakefield notched seven points and eight rebounds to lead her team on the boards.
GW shot at a 41.2 percent clip, hitting one triple in each quarter. George Mason sank 36 percent of its attempts, including a 5-of-20 clip from the three-point line. The Colonials dominated the paint, netting 38 points and allowing their opponent to score just 20 points inside.
“Ali and Caranda did a great job in the interior, and our guards did a really good job of doubling and being able to help when necessary,” Rizzotti said. “It really neutralized their post.”
George Mason turned the ball over 20 times – eight of which were forced – throughout the contest, and GW capitalized with 21 points off turnovers. GW kept its ballhandling tight, turning the ball over a season-low five times and dishing out 14 assists for a 2.8 assist to turnover ratio.
Redshirt sophomore forward Mayowa Taiwo earned the start after coming off the bench in the last six games. The forward nabbed four points and four rebounds in 10 minutes, but she was helped off the court after a lower body injury in the second quarter and didn’t return.
“I put her in it for the three and told her to just be aggressive rebounding the basketball, and she was in there every possession,” Rizzotti said. “She was making things happen. I think when you score points off of hustle, it lifts the spirit, the energy of the team, and it allows everything else to work better as well.”
The Colonials jumped out to an early 10–2 lead in the first five minutes of the first quarter with four different players scoring points in the paint. A jumper from sophomore center Jazmyn Doster snapped the Colonials’ six-point scoring streak, but GW constructed another 7-0 run capped off by a triple by Nikitinaite to boost the lead to 11 points.
“It definitely helps that Gabby [Nikitinaite] made a perimeter shot early,” Rizzotti said. “Sometimes it makes everybody relax when you see that first one go in. I thought we did a very good job at mixing it up and taking shots from the two versus always taking threes.”
The Patriots opened the second quarter on a 4-1 scoring tilt, but GW found its footing again and four players combined to score eight straight points. Korpinen fired back with back-to-back triples on Patriot possessions and Doster added a layup to come within four points of GW’s lead.
But the Colonials strung together another six-point run – bolstered by five points from graduate student guard Sydney Zambrotta. The Colonials went into the halftime break ahead 33–25.
GW hammered the nail in George Mason’s coffin in the third quarter, outscoring the Patriots 19–6. Luma netted eight points in the surge, and Perea found the bottom of the hoop for five points in the quarter. GW hit 9-of-19 attempts for 47.4 percent shooting, while George Mason landed just 2-of-9 shots. The Colonials entered the final 10 minutes ahead by 21 points.
A triple from freshman guard Aurea Gingras extended the advantage to 28 points – the highest it would reach that afternoon. The Patriots strung together an eight-point run to end the game, but it wouldn’t be enough to take down the visiting team. The Colonials walked out of EagleBank Arena with a 67–47 victory.
“The biggest takeaway is that when we control what we can – which is our effort, rebounding the ball, our competitiveness, to know the scout, run our plays right, take the right shots – that we’re pretty good,” Rizzotti said. “It’s all nice because we’ve been talking a lot about it. It’s all good to have it all come together at the right time.”
The Colonials are back on the road Wednesday to take on VCU. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.