Four senior players will be back on the women’s basketball squad next year for a final season, opting into their extra year of eligibility granted to athletes after the COVID-19 pandemic cut the 2020 season short.
The women’s basketball team announced Thursday that forward Faith Blethen, guard Nya Lok, guard Essence Brown and forward Mayowa Taiwo are all returning to the program next season, solidifying the team’s core identity save for guard Mia Lakstigala, who played her lone graduate season with the Colonials. The returns are pivotal for a team coming off its most successful season since 2018, finishing with an 18-13 record in Head Coach Caroline McCombs’ second year while going 9-7 in conference play.
All players were crucial starters down the stretch with a collective 25.8 average points per game.
Taiwo especially made an impact on both sides of the floor, shooting an impressive 49.1 percent, good for eighth in the A-10, while on her way to making the conference All-Defensive Team. She led the conference with 142 offensive rebounds, fourth in all Division I basketball. Teammates and coaches have praised Taiwo throughout the season for being a stellar teammate and leader.
“If I had a daughter, I’d want her to be Mayowa,” McCombs said in a January interview.
Lok was a key player late in the season, starting the squad’s last seven games in the team’s playoff push, including matchups in the A-10 Championship. She scored a season-high 21 points in the team’s A-10 tournament quarterfinal game, where they lost to Rhode Island.
Over the season, she averaged 9.4 points per game, a marked improvement from her 5.8 average the year before.
Blethen also made her mark as the season went on, earning a starting role midway through the year and playing a season-high 36 minutes in the team’s final regular season game. She was able to contribute from behind the arc, shooting at a respectable .312 clip.
Brown was also a crucial member of the squad, starting 23 out of her 25 games played this year and averaging 6.1 points per game. Continuity and experience will be vital for a team that prides itself on smart play, finishing tied for third in the A-10 in lowest turnovers per game and fifth in fewest average points allowed.
With all these returns, GW enters the offseason with high expectations for next year as McCombs and her squad will look to continue their upward trajectory in the A-10.
This article appeared in the March 27, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.