Women’s basketball won their first game of the season against Maryland Eastern Shore Thursday, soundly defeating the Hawks 65-50 in a show of dominance behind the 3-point line, spurred by precise ball movement and lockdown defense.
The Colonials (1-1), made quick work of the struggling Hawks (0-2), maintaining a double-digit lead for much of the game thanks to efficient work from behind the arc from their guards senior Essence Brown and junior Taylor Webster, who combined for 21 points. The Hawks failed to connect offensively, shooting just 1-17 from deep while the Colonials forced 15 turnovers.
Junior Zamara Haynes kept the Hawks offense afloat for much of the game with a stellar performance, scoring 19 points and grabbing seven rebounds, the highest of any Hawks player on the night. But Haynes alone could not make up for the rest of the team’s shooting struggles as the Hawks shot for 29 percent on the night.
Brown led GW’s offense with 12 points and five assists, a team high in both categories. While Brown’s performance topped the stat line, GW’s offensive prowess stood out, and the team’s bench outscored Maryland Eastern Shore 29-14 with four players scoring at least 10 points.
“I think we have players that can consistently score around 10 points, so I really like the balance that we have on this team,” Head Coach Caroline McCombs said after the game. “So if somebody’s open, we do want them to take that shot, and we feel like they can knock it down.”
Redshirt senior forward Mayowa Taiwo, who collected her 500th career rebound for the Colonials against the Hawks, was instrumental in helping the Colonials retain the ball, recording a game-high nine boards.
“She makes amazing plays for us defensively, and so I’m proud of her,” McCombs said of Taiwo. “I’m happy for her for that accomplishment. She puts in the work and she deserves it.”
GW managed to outscore Maryland Eastern Shore in the paint, recording 22 points to the Hawks’ 20. The Hawks’ shooting deficiencies behind the 3-point line with just one deep ball made the difference as GW drained 10 3-pointers.
“We play kind of like a position-less style of basketball, and we share the ball a lot with each other,” redshirt senior Mayowa Taiwo said after the game. “So I think that showed upstairs today in the fact that multiple people were able to score over five points.”
The Colonials charged out to an early lead in the first quarter as Brown worked in and out of the paint, draining a 3-pointer, then following it with a jumper in the paint to push the Colonials up seven. The 3-pointers didn’t stop there as graduate student guards Mia Lakstigala and Jayla Thornton connected for early triples of their own.
“Over the off-season we were just able to get a lot of shots up,” Brown said. “We did a Curry Club thing that we do to get a lot of 3s up, so I’ve been just working on my shot a lot.”
Senior forward Faith Blethen closed out the quarter strong for the Colonials, scoring an inside layup before knocking down two free throws to give GW a 9-point lead at the first buzzer.
Showing few signs of weakness, GW’s dominance seemed to grow as the game wore on. Lakstigala went back and forth with the Hawks’ Haynes, sandwiching a Haynes layup with two 3-pointers. Shooting three for five from deep in the second quarter, the Colonials never again saw their lead drop below 10.
Maryland Eastern Shore Head Coach Fred Batchelor made early inroads against the Colonials as the second half tipped off, led once again by Haynes and senior Mya Thomas, who ended the night as the Hawks’ second-leading scorer. But the Colonials maintained their dominance, quickly answering the energetic Hawks to force them to catch them in the middle between threats from behind the arc and inside paint. By the end of the third the Colonials were up 18, their biggest lead to end a quarter.
“I think as coach always says, defense is first, so we just make sure that we’re closing out at high hands, limiting them,” Taiwo said. “One of our aims was to make them take tough, contested nonpaint 2s, so forcing them to drive.”
Webster captured the most energetic moment of the game in the fourth quarter. Pulling up from behind the 3-point line, the D.C. native sank a shot to put the Colonials up 28, their largest lead of the game with less than eight minutes to play.
With a comeback looking increasingly improbable for their opponents, GW began to slack defensively in the fourth quarter, fouling and conceding seven points from free throws as the Hawks chipped away at their deficit. After extending their lead early in the quarter, GW’s advantage collapsed down to 15 after relentless drives from the Hawks but clung onto the lead until the final buzzer.
“I thought we did a terrific job for three quarters, just really holding them down,” McCombs said after the game. “I know they didn’t shoot the three well all night, but it’s something that we talk about just closing out with high hands and containing triple penetration.”
GW looks to continue its winning ways at 7 p.m. against Howard Monday.