After a flu outbreak – which first hit the squad at the UNLV Thanksgiving Tournament – knocked two starters out of the lineup, women’s basketball rallied to grind out a win against Ohio as they picked up their fifth win on the season, improving to 5-4.
A season-high scoring effort from graduate student guard Jayla Thornton and a second-half eruption from freshman guard Nya Robertson powered the short-handed Colonial offense, while senior forward Mayowa Taiwo anchored the defense, pulling down 17 boards in addition to 10 points, good for a double-double. While the Bobcats went on a few runs throughout the game, the GW lead was never in any real danger, as the short-handed squad coasted to a 74-57 win.
“Everyone’s just trying to get healthy,” Head Coach Caroline McCombs said in a post-game interview. “But you know, people have illnesses, and that illness bug hit us in Vegas and is still lingering. So we’re trying to get healthy, and I thought today was a really good opportunity for some other players to step up and show what they can do.”
In her first start of the season, Thornton kickstarted the game with a spark, hitting her first two threes to give the Colonials an early 6-1 lead.
“I’ve been focused on, really, lately, just having my feet set and just staying locked in,” Thornton said. “So knowing we were down in numbers, I know I have to be as accurate as possible, we all felt that way, just trying to focus on my shot was the main focus.”
She didn’t cool down for the rest of the quarter, finishing the first quarter with four triples and 14 points. Thanks in large part to Thornton’s hot hand, GW closed out the first quarter with a 23-17 lead.
The Colonials began to extend their lead in the second quarter, as a 3-pointer from Thornton with 3:09 to go sparked a 7-2 GW run that carried them into the half with a 10-point cushion 38-28.
Right out of the gate in the second half, Robertson erupted. The fiery freshman scored the last 15 points of the third quarter for the Colonials, including three 3-pointers.
“It felt great just having the home atmosphere, so I had to go crazy for them,” Robertson said.
After Robertson’s huge quarter, GW’s lead grew to 14 as they led 59-45 going into the final quarter.
And the Colonials never looked back. Robertson scored 7 more points to give her 24 on the night as GW coasted to a 74-57 victory.
The Colonials’ 3-point shooting – a point of emphasis for the team over the off-season – was a bright spot on the night, as the team finished with 12 total.
“Since we touched down in the summer, we’ve kind of revamped our offense,” Thornton, who hit seven of her 13 3-point attempts, said. “We have a lot of guards, and definitely a lot of people that can shoot the ball and I feel like our offense helps us do that.”
While the explosion of scoring from Thornton and Robertson captured so much attention, McCombs also stressed Taiwo’s presence for the Colonials on both ends of the floor as a contributing factor in the win.
“Tonight she was tremendous,” McCombs said. “She was a great presence out there on the floor today getting good rebounds, even being like a safety for us on offense. I’m really proud.”
McCombs added that fan engagement would be key to the team’s success going forward.
“We want to try to have an atmosphere where it’s exciting and our players are excited to play,” McCombs said. “And the fans are enjoying the style of play that we’re putting out there, so really excited to kind of continue to build on our home crowd and that home-court advantage that we want to have.”
The Colonials look to take home their second consecutive win in a matchup with TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, Monday at 6 p.m.