In the initial seconds of the first quarter, redshirt junior forward Neila Luma sprinted down the court and flipped a pass to junior guard Maddie Lodder. Loder nailed her first three-pointer of the game, starting the race for her season-high number of field goals made from long range.
The Colonials (5-12, 2-9 A-10) outscored the Dukes (2-8, 2-4 A-10) with an 18-point lead that assured their first win – a 63–45 victory – since Jan. 17. For the first time this season, GW sunk nine triples, firing at a season-high .563 clip after returning from a five-day quarantine.
“We’ve been limiting our three-point attempts, so we didn’t even shoot a lot today,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “The fact that we shot over 50 percent is not something we’ve done all year long, so it was nice to see our team shoot the ball with competence.”
Loder led the team in scoring, notching 15 points and firing at a 83.3 percent clip. Freshman center Ali Brigham and graduate student guard Jasmine Whitney followed with 13 and nine points, respectively.
“I just have a lot of support for my coaching staff and my teammates, and they really believe in me, and it’s been really awesome to feel really, really good coming into games and be able to show it at the beginning,” Loder said.
Senior guard Libby Bazelak led the Dukes, notching 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. Junior guard Diamond Bragg followed with 10 points, netting a both of her shots from the three-point line.
GW hit 51 percent of attempts from the floor and fired at a 56.3 clip from the three-point line. Duquesne hit 34.1 percent of its shots, netting 15 attempts. The Dukes were 7-of-18 from beyond the arc.
Both teams racked up a combined 35 turnovers. The Colonials turned the ball over 16 times, and the Dukes turned the ball over 19 times with GW forcing 11 of them. The team scored six more points off turnovers, reaching 19 points.
The Colonials’ went 11 days without a game prior to the Duquesne matchup after a positive COVID-19 test among a member of the team’s traveling party paused team activities. The Dukes underwent a three-week break before the match due to virus-related issues in its own program.
“They gave us a chance to have our bodies and our minds rest and it gave them a hunger like, ‘Okay, well, what is this? This is how easy it can get taken away from us, so let’s not take it for granted,’” Rizzotti said. “So our last two practices were really spirited. I felt they were really ready to play today and it shows.”
Bragg hit a layup to start the scoring off before Loder responded with her first triple of the game. Loder would go on to sink two more balls from deep within the first three minutes of action to give the Colonials a four-point advantage.
Bragg hit her second triple of the game to bring Duquesne within a point, but layups from Brigham and freshman guard Aurea Gingras kept the advantage at two possessions. Two straight treys from the Dukes put them in front, but Whitney responded with two triples of her own to keep the Colonials on top heading into the break.
Bazelak kept Duquesne in the game, scoring seven of the Dukes’ 10 points in the quarter. In a back-and-forth second quarter that saw four lead changes, a three-pointer by redshirt sophomore guard Ny Langley set the short two-point lead for the Dukes.
The Colonials fell into two three-minute scoring droughts in the second frame, which a layup from Brigham and triple from Whitney, respectively, ended. GW outscored the Dukes 11-5 in the second frame after four different players combined to shoot 45.5 percent from the field.
The squad grabbed the one-possession advantage at the end of the half and held on throughout the rest of the game.
The Colonials started the third frame on a five-point run thanks to Brigham and redshirt sophomore forward Mayowa Taiwo. Another 11-point run followed, setting the lead at 17.
The Dukes were only able to score twice in the third quarter and were stuck in a seven-minute scoring drought. GW sunk 8-of-13 from the field, including 2-of-3 from the three-point line for 19 points.
Another five-point tilt to start the fourth quarter elevated the lead to 22. Redshirt junior forward Gabby Nikitinaite found the bottom of the hoop on a three-point shot that pushed GW to a game-high 23-point advantage.
Six straight Duke buckets from the charity stripe weren’t enough to overcome GW’s hot offense and lockdown defense. The Colonials began its five-game homestand with a 63–45 victory.
“Not only does it feel so good to have so many of my teammates play well and then have the team play well, but it’s a weight off our shoulders,” Loder said. “This is who we are supposed to be. This is who we can be. This is not who we’re just going to be right now, but it just feels great. We’re very excited to do this, but it’s also a short turnaround. We are very excited to keep this moment going.”