Redshirt senior forward steps up as hard-hustling, frontcourt cornerstone

Media Credit: Maya Nair | Staff Photographer

She said her playing style is predicated on hustle and efforts that allow her to make quick in-game decisions, like the quick transitions from defense to offense.

Redshirt senior forward Mayowa Taiwo has focused on her leadership skills under Head Coach Caroline McCombs’ tutelage by stepping up on the defensive end to set an example for younger players as the “old hat for the team.”

Taiwo has become a consistent figure for the women’s basketball team, appearing in 26 games and starting in 22 the 2021-22 season with an average of 30.6 minutes per game, 8.5 points per game and a 43.8 shooting percentage, and breaking the 500 career rebound milestone this season, recording a third-place rank in the Atlantic 10 for rebounds this season.

Playing her fourth season with GW, Taiwo has built her repertoire with a second-place rank in the field goal percentage category in the A-10 with a .534 shooting percentage. She said her playing style is predicated on hustle and effort that allow her to make quick, in-game decisions, like the quick transitions from defense to offense.

Taiwo always held a notable presence on the team, being named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team in her first season. Taiwo was redshirted after a preseason injury while averaging 6.8 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game and 1.4 assists per game.

“I definitely think I always lead by example, and I think that shows my place,” Taiwo said in an interview. “I think I’ve definitely had to step that up this year, being that our defensive members aren’t as good they were, to just leading in that aspect.”

Taiwo said the team’s chemistry has translated to success on the court with more communication fueling a tighter defense that allows them to work on their shots with quick transitions. She said the program is currently experiencing an upward trend due to the team’s goal of becoming more dominant and claiming their season to become the best team in the A-10.

“I don’t think there’s things to improve on,” Taiwo said. “Same with the team, we had some really good energy going into A-10. We just have to regroup and keep playing into the energy.”

Looking into the program’s and her future, Taiwo said she hopes people will remember her effort on the court and see her fans showcase the same energy in the coming years.

“I hope people remember my effort, and I’m not your typical player,” Taiwo said. “Most of my things don’t end up in the stat sheet, but when I have our loyal fans come up to us and say they love to watch you play: ‘We love your energy, effort, we just love your heart. I think that’s what I want my legacy to be.'”

Halfway through her second year as the Colonials’ head coach, McCombs said Taiwo has been like a sponge, always looking to grow and evolve on the court to find solutions to score. She said Taiwo always rises to any challenge the coaching staff sets, like guarding any player one through five through the entirety of each game. She said Taiwo has become a staple for the team as a fierce competitor, leading on both offensive and defensive end.

“And so I just think really continuing to come into our own on defensively, she’s been so important to just hold down us on the defensive end,” McCombs said in an interview. “And then offensively we’ve tried to do some new things this season, and so I think just continuing to find her way, obviously, we know she offensive rebounds and does a lot of great things from that perspective, as well.”

McCombs said Taiwo is a quiet leader who leads by example by always giving her full effort in everything she does, which allows her peers to gain respect for her daily effort. She said she hopes to continue seeing her flourish in her senior year of basketball while having fun and smiling with her teammates.

Off the court, McCombs said Taiwo is a “class person” that cares a lot about the people around her and seeks to be involved with the community by building a huge community presence in GW. As the team continues its trek to the A-10 Championship, McCombs said she and the team are savoring Taiwo’s guiding force as an “amazing example of what a student-athlete encompasses.”

“If I had a daughter, I’d want her to be Mayowa,” McCombs said.

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