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Officials to clear homeless encampment near campus in May
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • March 4, 2024

Colonials stumble in loss to Duquesne

Tara Booker, womens basketball, bball
Senior forward Tara Booker reaches unsuccessfully for a rebound against Charlotte earlier this season. | Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Brennan Murray.

It was a game uncharacteristic of the Colonials’ play this season. But GW’s major inhibition was a factor the team’s battled before: a lack of depth due to a limited roster.

Coming off a dominant win against conference rival Rhode Island Wednesday night, the Colonials (9-10) displayed a powerful burst of momentum, hoping that the resulting confidence boost would carry over into Saturday’s second straight road conference match against the Dukes. But GW’s inability to overcome the size of Duquesne’s lineup, combined with the fact that only seven Colonials were available for use, ultimately led to their 76-50 defeat.

“When you’re down in depth, you don’t have the ability to press,” head coach Mike Bozeman said. “You can’t keep pressing with players that are winded and tired.”

Perhaps an omen of the Colonials’ forthcoming woes against Duquesne was junior forward Shi-Heria Shipp’s injury during pre-game warm ups. She twisted her ankle while executing the usual pre-game drills and was forced to watch the game entirely from the bench.

From the tip-off all the way through to the end of the game, it was clear that the Colonials would not be leaving Pittsburgh, Pa. with the same enthusiasm they carried away from Rhode Island. Sloppy passing from the first possession onwards led to 11 first half turnovers that largely reduced GW’s scoring chances. In the first half, the Colonials hit only 12 shots, and though they recorded a 52.2 percent shooting percentage in that time period, it was not enough to match Duquesne’s high-powered and second-ranked A-10 offense.

The most glaring symbol of the Colonials’ offensive struggles was the fact that GW only got to the free throw line only twice the entire game. This lack of aggression and failure to drive to the paint is something Bozeman hopes will not become a trend for his team’s offense despite the absence of senior center Sara Mostafa.

“They shot 24 free throws and we only shot four. I don’t need to go any further than that,” Bozeman said.

But what has been GW’s strong point all season – their defense – also failed to perform at its usually high level against Duquesne. Though clearly overmatched by two of Duquesne’s biggest and tallest players, sophomore forward Wumi Agunbiade and junior forward Carly Vendemia, the Colonials struggled in all aspects of their defensive play. The Dukes consistently exploited holes in GW’s low-post defense but also hurt the Colonials from beyond the arc, hitting seven three pointers on the day and ending the game with a 49.2 percent overall field goal percentage.

But a frustrating statistic for Bozeman, though understandable for him because of the team’s recent player losses, is the statistic that shows GW was outrebounded 45-28 overall, but more importantly 15-7 in the offensive rebounds category.

“We have to rebound more as a team. When the fatigue factor sets in it’s going to affect every aspect of the game,” Bozeman said. “When you lose three players and have to turn right around and play a team that’s stronger inside, you’re going to lose that edge.”

Down 15 points at halftime, GW looked to reemerge from the locker room and just simply play better basketball. But after the Colonials missed their first five shots to start the second half, it was clear that Bozeman’s players would have many of the same difficulties as they did in the first half. Though junior guard and clear on-court team leader Danni Jackson continued to play solid basketball, her nine points were not enough to eradicate the large deficit on the scoreboard.

Bozeman, frustrated with not only with this team’s performance but also what he believed may be some questionable calls, drew a rare technical foul about halfway through the second half, serving as a reflection of the Colonials’ struggles.

“I didn’t want to hurt my team but at the same time I’m trying to inspire my team. My frustration was expressed by getting that tech,” Bozeman said.

With 4:03 left in the game, the Dukes opened up 28-point lead, their largest of a game, essentially making a GW comeback impossible. Despite showing some heart and resilience in the final three minutes, the Colonials were left to wonder just what went wrong as the final buzzer sounded and the scoreboard showed a score of 76-50.

In Bozeman’s mind, it’s going to be essential to make some adjustments this week. He explained that because defensive presses require a deep bench, and because he only has six available players right now after senior guard Kristin Aldridge suffered a concussion in the first half and is out indefinitely, he will need to reevaluate his team and its defensive schemes as they head into the upcoming games.

“If we are going to have such a short bench, then I’ll have to make some adjustments. Maybe we’ll move our presses back or and use the half court version. We’ll just have to come up with some different schemes to hold on until we get some more players,” Bozeman said. “We really have to focus on strategies that will shorten the game.”

The Colonials will look to improve on their conference record as they face St. Louis Wednesday in the Smith Center.

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