Women’s basketball closes out conference play with fourth consecutive win

Media Credit: Courtesy of the GW Athletic Department

The women's basketball team is slated to play Fordham in the last game of the regular season Thursday.

In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, graduate student guard Jasmine Whitney sprinted down the court, dishing a pass to redshirt junior guard Gabby Nikitinaite. Nikitinaite nailed her third three-pointer of the game, sending her on her way to a season-high 22 points.

The Colonials (8-12, 5-9 A-10) overwhelmed the Patriots (3-18, 0-14 A-10) Sunday, building a 29-point lead that assured their fourth consecutive win 68-39. GW matched its season-high of nine triples, five of which came from the hands of Nikitinaite.

“Sometimes it’s just nice to see the ball go through the net a bunch of times in one game, especially at home,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “So just happy to finish the regular season today and get a win for our seniors.”

Nikitinaite led the team in scoring with her season-high 22 points. Freshman center Ali Brigham and graduate student guard Jasmine Whitney followed with 12 and nine points, respectively. Whitney tacked on seven rebounds, six assists and six steals, while Brigham was one rebound shy of a double-double.

Freshman guard Taylor Jameson led the Patriots, notching 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting from the field. Sophomore center Jazmyn Doster followed with 10 points, ripping eight rebounds for the team.

GW shot 38.9 percent from the floor, including a 40.9 percent clip from the three-point line. George Mason hit 31.9 percent of its shots, netting 15 attempts. But the Patriots went just 2-of-15 from long range.

The Colonials turned the ball over just eight times, while the Patriots committed 24 turnovers that resulted in 26 GW points – 20 more points than George Mason mustered. The team forced 15 turnovers as eight different players tallied a steal.

Sophomore forward Vita Stam hit a layup to start the scoring off. Redshirt junior forward Mayowa Taiwo ripped an offensive board and was fouled on the way back up to the rim. She nailed one free throw to get GW on the board. Brigham and junior guard Maddie Loder combined for five points to give the Colonials a four-point advantage.

George Mason responded with a five-point tilt of its own to retake the lead, but GW went on a 14-point spin that included two triples from Nikitinaite to give the squad a 20-7 lead. A jumper by Jameson and a layup by Doster brought George Mason within three possessions at the end of the first frame.

The Patriots faced a three-minute scoring drought in the top half of the second quarter as the Colonials broadened their lead to 13 points. Sophomore guard Essence Brown, Brigham, Taiwo and Whitney all hit jumpers to grow the 33-14 advantage. The Colonials defense held a tight grip as the Patriots were only able to score three times in the quarter for a total of four points.

“Our team has gained more confidence,” Rizzotti said. “We know each other better. Gabby is more on the flow. This isn’t her third game at GW. Essence and Faith are playing way better than they were playing back in mid-January because of their confidence. I think we’ve got more of a feel for each other and a trust for each other that has obviously gone a long way for us in the last week.”

The Colonials charged ahead in the third quarter, netting nine straight points as the Patriots were ultimately unable to score until three minutes in. Whitney nabbed a steal during the run and missed her initial shot. But an offensive rebound revived the play and she didn’t miss the second time, raining down a three-point bucket.

The Colonials nabbed 18 offensive boards, which turned into 15 points.

After the media time-out, freshman forward Vanessa Laumbach broke the dry spell from the field for the Patriots with a layup. George Mason held GW scoreless for the remainder of the frame, chipping the lead down to 20 points.

Both teams got their offenses going in the fourth quarter, as both squads shot more than 50 percent from the field, scoring a combined 43 points. George Mason opened the quarter on a 9-5 tilt, but Nikitinaite responded with 14 consecutive points, including three triples.

Graduate student guard Sydney Zambrotta joined in on the fun, swishing another triple to boost the lead to 30. Freshmen guard Aurea Gingras and forward Caranda Perea ended the scoring for the Colonials with a jumper and layup, respectively.

The Colonials held an eight-point edge in the paint, and a 21-point edge from beyond the arc. Combining the sharpshooting with shutdown defense, the squad walked away with a 68-39 and a season sweep of George Mason after beating the Patriots on the road last month.

“There have been good days there have been bad days but overall we’ve been climbing slowly we still haven’t achieved all,” Nikitinaite said. “We can get to higher places, but we’re taking it day-by-day, and I know we can be better every day.”

The Colonials are back in action Thursday for a nonconference game against Fordham. Tipoff for the last regular season game of the year is set for 5 p.m.

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