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GW falls short in loss to Virginia Tech

Danni Jackson, women's basketball
Junior guard Danni Jackson charges down the court during Saturday afternoon's game against Virginia Tech. Francis Rivera | Assistant Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Brennan Murray.

It was the little things that made a big difference in play for the Colonials Saturday afternoon.

Squaring off against Virginia Tech, GW shot 42.3 percent from the stripe, converting just 11 of 26 free throws and missing four crucial shots from the charity stripe in the last 15 seconds of play alone.

But the Colonials’ shooting woes were not constrained to the free throw line. After putting up a solid 50 percent shooting percentage in the first half, GW (1-2) shot a mere 26 percent in the second half, missing many would-be game-changing shots down the stretch, falling 55-48.

“We shot the ball horrendously in the second half,” head coach Mike Bozeman said. “But like I told the team in the locker room after the game, the last four free throws that we missed were no more valuable than the nine or ten we missed in the first half.”

The Colonials attempted to overcome their offensive struggles with a strong defensive effort. Following the tip, GW only allowed the Hokies to score only two points in the first six minutes. Maintaining a 2-3 zone throughout play, the Colonials forced 15 Virginia Tech turnovers.

After Morgan State added 33 points from beyond the arc in Wednesday’s home opener, GW refused to allow the Hokies the same success from deep. Virginia Tech missed all of their seven three-point attempts.

“I’m always talking to them about learning from every situation, not just games, but practices,” Bozeman said. “I think the girls did a great job of adjusting. They could have dropped their heads after that [Morgan State game], but they didn’t. They’re hanging in and I think they did a tremendous job defensively tonight.”

But GW couldn’t supplement its defensive effort with equal offensive play. During the first, the Colonials hit 11 of 22 shots from the field, led at the point by either senior guard Kristen Aldridge, returning to the lineup after having concussion-like symptoms, or junior guard Danni Jackson. Senior guard Tiana Myers was sidelined again with a hamstring injury, on the bench with a day-to-day recovery status.

Bozeman gave the Hokies numerous looks to deal with early on, switching back and forth between an offense with size and an offense with speed, substituting the 5-foot-3 Jackson for 6-foot-1 senior forward Tara Booker. Six Colonials recorded at least one bucket in the first half and sophomore forward Chelisa Painter added six points of her own in the first, on her way to a career-high 10. Though the Colonials hit only one out of ten from the line, they led Virginia Tech 23-19 heading into the half.

Sara Mostafa, basketball
Senior center Sara Mostafa takes a shot at the basket. Mostafa's offensive power was not enough to carry the Colonials to victory, falling to Virginia Tech 55-48. Francis Rivera | Assitant Photo Editor

At the start of the second half, GW’s offense seemed to be finding its groove. Jackson, Painter, and senior center Sara Mostafa, finishing with 14, 10, and eight points respectively, led GW on a seven-point run to open play. But from there, the Colonials struggled from the field.

“We just couldn’t throw the rock in the ocean off a boat,” Bozeman said.

The Hokies came back to tie the game at 35 with just over ten minutes to play. After back and forth play and multiple lead changes, Virginia Tech took the lead 43-42 with five minutes to go.

GW couldn’t get its shots to fall, failing to connect on nine field goals in the last six minutes of play. Missing crucial free throws over the final minutes of play, the Colonials were never able to regain the lead, and Virginia Tech finished with a 55-48 victory.

“We learn something from every game we play. This was a learning experience and we played hard throughout the whole game. We learned that we can’t just play hard. We have to also execute and make shots,” Jackson said.

Bozeman agrees that his team has the ability to grow from its two straight losses. Next heading to Auburn Nov. 23 at 7 p.m., he’s looking for the Colonials to refocus and present what Bozeman believes to be their full potential on the court.

“Mentally the team is where it needs to be in terms of competing nationally, especially from a good bounce back from the Morgan State game. The record is not where I want it to be but it’s not out of hand. We can work with this. I can work with this group,” Bozeman said.

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