Women’s basketball falls to VCU for the second time in six days

Freshman forward Caranda Perea was fouled heading to the rim during the third quarter of women’s basketball’s rematch with VCU Monday. The basket counted, and Perea knocked down the free throw to bring GW within one possession.

But VCU responded with a triple, spurring a seven-point run that would keep the squad at a three-possession deficit for the remainder of the game. The Rams (9-7, 7-2 A-10) trampled the Colonials (4-12, 1-9 A-10) 64–50, marking GW’s fifth straight loss.

“There’s not yet quite a level of consistency for 40 minutes,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “And we’re trying to find different combinations of guys out there that can maybe provide both offense and defense for us, but we just haven’t had a whole level of a lot of consistency from a lot of different guys.”

Freshman center Ali Brigham and redshirt junior guard Gabby Nikitinaite led the team with 18 and 11 points, respectively. On the defensive side, graduate student guard Jasmine Whitney racked up three steals.

Senior guard Taya Robinson led the field with 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Freshman guard Sarah Te-Biasu followed behind with 16 points, nine of which came from the three-point line, and sophomore forward Chloe Bloom hit 6-of-7 to round out the Rams’ double-digit scorers with 13 points.

The Colonials lagged behind in shooting from the floor and behind the arc. VCU fired at a 49.1 percent clip, while GW hit just 36.7 percent of its attempts. From deep, the Colonials outshot their 20.2 percent season three-point percentage, sinking 4-of-12. But the team still fell behind the Rams’ six triples in 16 attempts.

The Colonials committed 13 turnovers – the lowest number in three games – and collected 15 assists on 22 made baskets.

The Rams opened the scoring in the first quarter, but the Colonials had an answer for every VCU bucket early. Nikitinaite got off to a hot start, scoring five of GW’s first seven points. The Colonials defense stifled the Rams offense, keeping VCU to just 3-of-12 from the field.

Brigham hit two buckets in the final two minutes, bumping her to six points in the first frame, to give GW a four-point lead at the end of the quarter.

The Rams made up the difference quickly at the top of the second quarter, capitalizing off a steal to hit a 6-0 scoring run within the first two minutes. Rizzotti called two timeouts to stall the attack, and junior guard Maddie Loder finished a pair of layups on plays out of the break.

“Sometimes when it’s a turnover that leads to a basket – those are the ones that are really hard to take – so I’ve been trying to, if that happens on consecutive plays, burn one of my timeouts to try to get the team refocused, give them a play to run,” Rizzotti said. “They did a good job of executing out of timeouts today, but we only have so many.”

Whitney evened the score at 17, but VCU outscored GW 9-3 in the final six minutes to take a 26–20 advantage heading into the locker room at the half.

“We had some missed opportunities there in the last couple minutes of the second quarter to make that game tighter,” Rizzotti said. “That’s a little bit frustrating when you’re really struggling to put the ball in the hole, to miss the easy ones.”

The Colonials came out firing in the third quarter, netting 9-of-13 from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. But the Rams returned from the locker room just as sharp, hitting 10-of-16 from the field and 4-of-7 from downtown.

The game quickly turned into a shootout, and two minutes into the frame, the teams traded four consecutive treys. VCU doubled its halftime lead before Brigham cut it down to 10 with a contested layup at the buzzer.

“It’s really exciting to see shots go in from inside and out,” Brigham said. “I think it brings a big energy for our team, and if we can keep it consistent, that’s what we need to continue to win.”

The Colonials cooled off in the fourth quarter, hitting 33.3 percent and missing both attempts from behind the arc. The Rams kept their foot on the gas and dominated in the paint, scoring 12 points to the Colonials’ four.

VCU scored six straight points – all down low – to extend its lead to a game-high 15 points. Brigham and sophomore guard Essence Brown cut the lead to 13 with 2:25 left to play, but GW would not find the bottom of the hoop again. At the final buzzer, the Colonials dropped its second meeting with the Rams 64–50.

“It’s just about staying true to what we’ve built this season on and making sure that we stay positive and keep working to get better, and make things go our way,” Rizzotti said. “We can’t hope that they do, we have to make them go our way.”

The Colonials will face Massachusetts Friday. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m.

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