Women’s basketball took down Dayton 71-57 in a resounding win Saturday in the Smith Center.
Freshman guard Nya Robertson led the way for the Colonials (14-8, 6-3 A-10) and continued to make her case for A-10 Rookie of the Year with an electric 26 points off the bench to go along with three rebounds and three steals. Not to be outdone, senior forward Mayowa Taiwo pulled down her 700th career rebound in the game, making her one of only 16 players in GW history to reach the mark during a historic performance against Dayton (3-17, 2-7 A-10).
GW got off to a sluggish start, trailing the Flyers 10-6 six minutes into the first quarter. Back-to-back 3-pointers from graduate student guard Mia Lakstigala and Robertson kept GW in the mix, while Taiwo battled down low to keep the Dayton bigs off the boards.
“It was definitely a focus of ours to box out, and I think they ended up out-rebounding us, they outrebounded us the whole game,” Taiwo said. “So that’s something we can work toward if we meet them again, but it was definitely interesting having a great rebounding team because I think that’s the best rebounding we’ve played.”
Taiwo finished the game with 9 points and 15 rebounds, a single point shy of a double-double.
With Taiwo holding down the fort on defense, Robertson injected life into the stagnating Colonials offense off the bench, stretching the Dayton defense with her seemingly limitless range. Robertson finished the first quarter with 9 points, a rebound and a steal.
The Colonials maintained control of the game throughout the second quarter, but the Dayton press kept them from pulling away by applying pressure in the backcourt.
“I think it gave us a little bit of trouble,” Taiwo said. “We had prepared for it. We weren’t expecting them to play us in that the whole game. We also weren’t expecting them to play us in a zone the whole game, so we really had to lock in and remember our zone packages and just find the open pockets.”
The Flyers outpaced the Colonials in the third quarter, going 7-for-14 from the field, eclipsing the Colonials’ subpar 4-of-18 shooting effort in the period.
After some back-and-forth scoring to kick off the third quarter, a free throw from Flyers guard Sydney Freeman about three minutes into the quarter started an 11-1 run for Dayton.
Dayton guard Nayo Lear drilled a jumper before scoring a quick layup on a fast break to notch a quick 4 points. Lear followed the burst with a pair of free throws, a 3-pointer and a layup to bring the Flyers within 8 points with about 3:36 left in the quarter.
But GW held onto the lead with a floater from beyond the arc from Robertson and a pair of free throws from Taiwo to follow, giving the Colonials an even 50 points headed into the fourth quarter.
GW took back control in the fourth quarter, leaving little doubt as to the game’s outcome with three minutes left, extending their lead to 15 with a Robertson trey.
Robertson anchored the Colonials in the final quarter, scoring 12 of GW’s 21 points in the fourth on a trio of 3-pointers and three free throws. Robertson paired another rebound and assist to her prolific scoring in the quarter.
Even as Robertson continues to establish herself as a premier offensive talent in the A-10 off the bench, Head Coach Caroline McCombs said she has no plans to switch up the starting lineup.
“I think we’ve been pretty consistent with our starting lineup throughout the year,” said McCombs. “Nya Robertson is a great spark for us off the bench and it just gives her the chance to see the game, and then she can sub in at the one or the two.”
Dayton guard Destiny Bohanan sunk two free throws with seven seconds left in the game, but the Flyers could only shrink the deficit to 14 before GW enjoyed the thrill of victory seconds later.
Regardless of whether she’s in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, Robertson will be key to GW’s hopes for an A-10 Championship win. The Colonials are currently fifth in the conference winning their last three games, and they will look to rise to fourth against Duquesne Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Smith Center.
This article appeared in the January 30, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.