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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Colonials fall in A-10 road opener

Danni Jackson, women's basketball
Junior guard Danni Jackson's three point baskets helped put the Colonials temporarily in the lead against A-10 foe Richmond Wednesday before the Colonials fell 74-57 to the Spiders. | Hatchet File Photo

The Colonials knew their first A-10 road game would be a challenge as they stared down Richmond, a foe that boasts one of the conference’s top offenses.

What they didn’t know was Richmond’s redshirt junior Rachael Bilney would set a school record en route to a career-high 32 points, as GW (8-8, 1-1) fell 74-57 in their first road conference game of the season.

The Spiders’ guard torched the Colonials defense from behind the arc, draining eight of nine shots from the three-point range, breaking a Richmond record for three-pointers that had not been touched in more than 21 years.

“[Bilney] was on fire,” Bozeman said. “We went to a man-to-man defense to try to deter her. Everything we did, she kept shooting it. I thought that we got away from our game plan. I thought everything that they did in the first half we had an answer for. In the second half they were mentally tougher than us and they stuck to their game plan more then we stuck to ours.”

The Colonials entered the Robins Center ranked second in the A-10 in field-goal percentage defense but immediately felt the pressure of the conference’s top shooting team. Coming off of only their third loss of the season, the Spiders found Bilney for a three only 12 seconds into the half, a trend that would dominate the rest of game.

Colonial senior forward Tara Booker, who was named the A-10 co-player of the week Monday, responded with five of the Colonials first seven points and helped GW to an early lead in a back-and-forth half. After junior guard Danni Jackson drained her second trey to put the Colonials in the lead with just over three minutes in the half, the Spiders answered with nine consecutive points over a one minute and 10 second span as Bilney scored on back-to-back buckets from long range, propelling Richmond to a 32-30 halftime lead.

“The run they made at the end of the half was very important,” Bozeman said. “I thought that there were times when we had control of the game. I thought there were times we had opportunities to stretch the lead and take control of the game.”

GW regained the lead coming out of halftime, but seven consecutive points from the A-10’s leading scorer, Richmond’s Abby Oliver, put the Spiders back on top. As Bilney followed with back-to-back threes for the second time, senior guard Tiana Myers responded with a three of her own and Booker drained a jump shot to cut the deficit to a single point with 10 minutes remaining.

Over the next five minutes, Richmond took the life out of GW as they used a 15-0 scoring run to break the back-and-forth game wide open.

“I thought in the second half they were just mentally tougher than us,” Bozeman said.  “We never quite got onto a roll where we could throw a knockout punch. I thought they got into a rhythm on their offensive end.”

While the Colonials defense has been the most consistent aspect of their game this season, the Richmond offense proved too much to handle as the second half progressed. Richmond shot nearly 49 percent from the floor while GW shot just 38 percent, but it was shooting from deep that the Colonials had no answer for, as the Spiders finished 12-for-18 from behind the arc. Bozeman attributed the poor defensive effort to both a lack of mental toughness as well as simply stunning shooting performance posted by Richmond.

“[Bilney] hit a couple shots that were from 25 feet, but at the same time she did that in the first half and we need to know that we have to guard there,” Bozeman said. “There were a couple times when the shot clock was running down and we helped off of her. Those kind of mental lapses, we have to be a lot tougher mentally. They made us pay for those kind of mistakes.”

Offensively, Booker added yet another solid performance, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds.  Jackson also scored 14 points and tallied four steals while Myers posted 11 points. Despite a 16-8 advantage for GW off of second-chance points, Richmond scored 25 points off of GW’s 16 turnovers to compensate.

Moving forward, Bozeman pointed to a need to improve his team’s mental toughness from all aspects of the game.

“It’s not all about our physical gifts or our skills set,” Bozeman said. “We have to add the mental toughness, we have to grow and get stronger mentally as a unit. That’s not just the players, that’s the coaches, the managers, the ball boys, that’s everybody. We all have to get tougher mentally so that we can stick to a game plan. We had our shot at this game. Richmond didn’t lose it, they took it.”

The Colonials next play host to Charlotte on Jan 14 at 2 p.m. in the Smith Center.

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