Women’s basketball notches first conference win

Media Credit: File Photo by Auden Yurman | Assistant Photo Editor

Neither the Colonials nor the Dukes could pull away for almost the entire game before GW was able to ultimately prevail.

Women’s basketball took down Atlantic 10 rival Duquesne on the road in a tight matchup.

The Colonials (8-14, 1-8 A-10) defeated Duquesne (9-14, 4-7 A-10) 50–48 to snap an eight-game losing streak and nab their first conference win. GW held the Dukes to just 23.7 percent shooting from the field and topped the rebounding battle 45 to 37, with walk-on freshman guard Maxine Engel pulling down 11 boards on her own.

Redshirt junior forward Mayowa Taiwo led the way for the Colonials, hitting 5-of-6 from the field combined with three trips to the line to cap a 15-point performance. On the other end of the court, graduate student guard Libby Bazelak spearheaded the Dukes, sinking 4-of-10 from the floor to go along with nine rebounds.

Defense was the go-to for both teams on Wednesday, with neither the Colonials nor the Dukes finding any rhythm on offense in the first half. The first quarter featured a back-and-forth bout with both teams strapped for points, as GW shot for 4-of-14 and Duquesne for 3-of-13 from the field to knot the game up at 10–10 by the first-quarter buzzer.

Just four minutes into the second quarter, the Colonials had held Duquesne to just 10 points, underscoring a stellar defensive performance that saw most of the Dukes’ half-court sets being worked deep into the shot clock. The second quarter featured more of the same, with the first score coming a full two minutes in.

With 2:13 left to play in the half, sophomore guard Taylor Webster knocked down a three to give GW their largest lead of the night, putting them ahead by six.

But if the Colonials anticipated a significant run to end the first half, Dukes’ sophomore center Precious Johnson had different ideas. Johnson scored five unanswered points, including a last-second three to cut the GW lead to just one at the break.

At half, the Colonials had notched only four assists combined with 10 turnovers. Despite that ratio, GW managed to maintain their lead and start the second half with the advantage.

In a recurring trend for the night, the Colonials dominated the paint, doubling Duquesne’s points there in the first and controlled the boards on both offense and defense. GW would finish the night with 28 points in the paint compared to the Dukes’ 12, despite conceding 18 turnovers and allowing 24 points off the turnovers in total.

Within a two-and-a-half minute span in the third quarter, the Dukes put together five unanswered from the field, prompting Head Coach Caroline McCombs to call a momentum-halting timeout with 6:31 left in the quarter.

The back-and-forth battle continued in the third, with neither side gaining an advantage of more than four points as play progressed. As the quarter drew to a close, the Dukes led by two, just before sharpshooter freshman guard Tess Myers hit a buzzer-beater three to put Duquesne on top by five with a score of 37–32.

In the final quarter, Duquesne held their biggest lead of the night of six points and a score of 40–34 with just more than six minutes to go. But the Colonials were not to be denied, holding their rivals scoreless for the next four minutes.

In the closing quarter alone, Taiwo continued to lead, dropping six points to help mount the comeback the Colonials needed. Her layup with 1:34 remaining gave GW the lead for the first time since the opening half, setting up a must-foul situation for the Dukes.

The Colonials were able to capitalize on the fast break in the second half in a way they hadn’t in the first, grabbing 11 points off of defensive rebounds and turnovers.

Both teams traded free throws as the final quarter wound down, before a Bazelak trey brought the Dukes within one with two seconds left. Webster converted her free throw with one second left to seal the win in Pittsburgh.

The victory closes the chapter on a four-game road swing as the Colonials head back home to take on St. Bonaventure on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tipoff.

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