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Colonials nab exhibition win in Tsipis debut

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Jake Deitcher.

Senior forward Danni Jackson maneuvers around a Wingate opponent. Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

The game plan for the Colonials Sunday afternoon seemed to be causing chaos for their opponents, forcing Wingate to commit constant, costly mistakes over the exhibition match between the two teams.

And the game plan reflected at the final buzzer, GW victorious in its first outing under new head coach Jonathan Tsipis with a 69-39 win.

It was senior point guard Danni Jackson who paced GW’s effort to pressure the opposition on both sides of the ball, attacking the heart of the Wingate defense, creating easy scoring opportunities for her and her teammates, while also leading a brutal GW press that forced the Bulldogs to commit 33 turnovers.

“My number one job is to run the team and to be aggressive on offense and defense,” Jackson said. “It helps my teammates when they can get open and I get shots for them.”

GW dominated from the early moments of play. The Colonials pressured the ball constantly on defense, forcing the Bulldogs into 21 first-half turnovers. Despite offensive struggles, the Colonials built a 15-point halftime lead thanks to a 15-0 scoring run where Wingate was left scoreless in the face of a relentless press that even made the task of crossing midcourt difficult.

GW negated the effects of its poor shooting in the first half by creating second chance opportunities. Both the Colonials and Bulldogs grabbed 20 first half rebounds, but GW managed to grab ten of its rebounds on offense. The Colonials managed 39 shots in the period while limiting the Bulldogs to only 19 attempts.

The Colonials stayed stingy on defense in the second half, but they changed their approach offensively. GW attempted ten three-pointers in the first half but only converted one. In the second, the Colonials attempted only four treys and instead opted to establish an offensive presence in the paint.

“We talked at halftime that it was not a necessarily that we were one for ten, but it was that I think we could have gotten better shots,” Tsipis said. “We were at times taking the first available shot.”

The Colonials scored 34 points in the paint and 20 points came from second chance opportunities. GW continued to dominate the glass by grabbing 14 offensive rebounds in the second half. While GW’s bench contributed 27 points, the starters set the tone early and dominated Wingate’s starting five.

Jackson contributed ten points and dished out nine assists in 20 minutes of play. Two graduate students joined Jackson as the focal points of the Colonial attack, as forward Brooke Wilson added ten points and ten rebounds and fellow forward Tara Booker led the Colonials with 12 points. Senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp became the fourth GW player to enter double-digits, scoring ten points with five boards and three assists. Tsipis’ veterans played with energy and focus, which Booker credits to the new coaching staff.

Senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp leaps to pull down a board during Sunday’s game. Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

“It’s like everyone is a freshman again. It gives us a whole new vibe, a whole new mood and a whole new atmosphere,” Booker said. “We have a lot of veteran players on our team. It helps where it shortens our learning curve. For a younger player it could have been more difficult.”

Senior guard Megan Nipe was a key contributor off of the bench last season, but started against Wingate. Nipe struggled to score from the wing, going one-for-ten from the field and missing four attempts from behind the three-point line.

Nipe’s outside shooting is needed to space the floor on offense, but her poor shooting night against the Bulldogs wasn’t a concern Tsipis.

“Her shots did not go down tonight, but she has shot better than any perimeter player we have had,” Tsipis said. “And I have told her, you got to keep shooting. “

The Colonials played their best when Jackson was paired with sophomore guard Chakecia Miller in the backcourt. Miller handled the ball during most of her possessions, allowing Jackson to play off of the ball and get easy shots at the basket. Miller also forced more turnovers than any other Colonial. Her six steals were essential in stopping Wingate’s offense while also augmenting GW’s transition offense.

Tsipis says his team essentially has seven starting players and the starting lineup will vary depending on the matchup.  He and his coaching staff are working on several different lineup combinations during practice to ensure his squad is prepared to play with any combination of players at any given time.

Tsipis sees room for his team to grow, but he is pleased by their performance and effort thus far. Tsipis inherited a squad used to playing a zone defense and has implemented a man-to-man defense instead. Progress has been made, but Tsipis wants his team to improve throughout the season.

“The challenge I have left for the team now is that we got to keep that same mindset that we have to keep getting better on a daily basis,” Tsipis said.


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