Women’s basketball notches second straight win, downing St. Bonaventure

When sophomore forward Essence Brown drained a three during the fourth quarter of women’s basketball’s game against St. Bonaventure Sunday, it sparked a dominating run that delivered GW its second consecutive win.

Starting with Brown’s bucket with four minutes left in the contest, the Colonials (6-12, 3-9 A-10) went on an 11–3 run to close out a 56–39 victory over the Bonnies (5-11, 4-9 A-10) at the Smith Center.

“I think our team just felt really good,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “They felt good about their bodies. They feel good about their minds, and when we see shots going down and see our defense clicking the way that it has just gives us a lot of confidence, so hopefully we can continue to carry this over to the rest of the season.”

GW entered the contest with history on its side, as the Colonials had won 20 of the last 21 home matchups with St. Bonaventure.

Freshman center Ali Brigham led all scorers with 15 points and sophomore forward Essence Brown added a career-high 10 points and seven rebounds. Graduate student guard Jasmine Whitney flirted with a triple-double, notching nine points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Redshirt sophomore forward Mayowa earned her second consecutive start and continued to be a good luck charm for the Colonials, who have won each of the three conference games that she has started.

“Mayowa is a beast,” Brown said. “She just, like I said, effort is always top notch. We just know we can always count on her on both ends.”

Sophomore guard Olivia Brown led the Bonnies with 13 points while sophomore forward I’yanna Lops pitched in with 12 points.

GW’s defense was stifling all afternoon, holding St. Bonaventure to just 29.8 percent shooting. The Colonials also ripped 39 rebounds to the Bonnies’ 24 and shared the ball at a higher rate, dishing 17 assists to St. Bonaventure’s seven.

Part of the effective defense was controlling the Bonnies’ top scorers. Junior guard Asianae Johnson entered the game averaging 14.1 points per contest but was locked down by Whitney, who held her to just two points. Redshirt junior guard Tori Harris, who averaged 10.9 points, was held scoreless.

“Well I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone guard Asianae Johnson in the three years that she’s been in the league,” Rizzotti said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone guard her the way Jasmine did today. She is a tough check, she is a good basketball player.”

GW’s defense was stout from the opening tip. The Bonnies struggled to get the ball down low and were forced to settle for shots from the outside in the first quarter.

Whitney blew past the Bonnies’ defense to finish with a left-handed layup to open the scoring. She was all over the court in the first frame, racking up five points and two assists, including a triple with 3:33 on the clock that gave GW a 9–2 lead.

Sophomore forward Faith Blethen was able to put an exclamation point on the quarter with a three ball that gave the Colonials a 14–4 lead.

The Colonials led by as many as 12 in the second quarter, when Brown dropped in a three to put GW up 19–7 with eight minutes left in the half. Lops scored six points in two minutes in the middle of the frame to provide a spark for St. Bonaventure, but Taiwo scored a pair of buckets in the paint in response to close out the half for GW.

The Colonials took a 25–15 advantage into halftime, holding the Bonnies to 26.9 percent shooting and outrebounding the visitors 22–12.

The Bonnies came out firing at the start of the third quarter. Olivia Brown sank a pair of shots from downtown within the first two minutes of play that cut GW’s lead to five points and forced a quick timeout by Rizzotti.

A trey courtesy of redshirt junior guard Gabby Nikitinaite stemmed the bleeding for the Colonials with just under six minutes left in the frame, but the Bonnies responded with four straight free throws to come within two points.

GW rallied at the end of the quarter, going on an 8-2 run to carry a 37–29 lead into the final 10 minutes of play.

The opening minutes of the fourth quarter were a back-and-forth affair that allowed GW to keep the Bonnies at bay until Brown sank the dagger that helped the Colonials surge forward and preserve the win.

Brown provided a punch off the bench and scored seven of her points in the final seven minutes of action.

“All I want to do is be able to help my team so to be able to pitch in a little bit and provide that effort and just help us out, it feels really good and my teammates are super supportive,” Brown said.

St. Bonaventure failed to convert any of its five three-point attempts and grabbed just three rebounds during the fourth quarter, stunting its ability to get back in the game.

The Colonials are back in action Thursday when they welcome Davidson to the Smith Center. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.

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