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The GW Hatchet

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Colonials deflated by Hawks’ hot shooting

Freshman Alexis Chandler drives baseline against a Hawks defender. Chandler had a career high 10 points in the game. Zachery Krahmer | Senior Staff Photographer

The Colonials’ game plan worked perfectly – but only for the first five minutes.

Starting off in a 2-3 zone defense, GW hoped that its speed and up-tempo play would be enough to close off the open gaps.  But it wasn’t enough in the end, as the Hawks’ 51.9 percent shooting in the first half allowed them to hold off a second half GW run and give them the 80-67 win.

“They did a really good job I thought after we made the initial run of executing some things against our zone that got [Saint Joseph’s player] Erin Shields some open looks,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “And I think that deflated us a little bit.”

As the Colonials’ early 8-2 lead began to disappear, the Hawks began to find their shot – and it was contagious. For GW’s defense in the first half, it became a lose-lose situation.

With Saint Joseph’s consistently attacking the basket from an inside-out approach, GW had two options: continue to rotate and help on the zone defense or risk the one-on-one match-ups down inside. When a team like Saint Joseph’s shoots 58.3 percent from the three-point line in the first half, neither option is a good one.

The Hawks continued to find open shooters as GW’s zone failed to rotate and get out quick enough.

“Sometimes you can have somebody run something great x’s and o’s that you run out of people to guard it,” Tsipis said. “And sometimes it’s based on effort, and I think when we watch on film, we had the opportunity to get out there.”

Down 43-24 at halftime and facing its largest first half deficit of the season, Tsipis emphasized two things to his team: rebounding and putting the ball on the floor. GW went out in the second half and did just those two things.

The Colonials began to attack the lane, making some shots of their own, and getting to the free throw line when they didn’t. They became aggressive on the offensive glass, and were quick to grab a rebound on the defensive side after a rare Saint Joseph’s miss.

Before you knew it, the Colonials had gone on a 21-9 run, and were now down just 10 with eight minutes and 53 seconds left to play. The first moments of the game were a tease, and so was the hard-fought comeback. The Hawks’ sharpshooter – junior Erin Shields – made back-to-back three pointers, and again Saint Joseph’s was back up by 16, and again the rest of the team began to catch fire.

When the final buzzer sounded, it was an 80-67 loss for the Colonials – their fifth straight.

“I’m really proud of the way our kids battled and came out in the second half,” Tsipis said. “They got it down to nine and really dug in whether it was half court or full court defense and really made it more of a transition game where we could get to the free throw line.”

Freshman Anjaleace White goes up for a contested lay-up during Thursday’s game. White finished with two points and five rebounds for the Colonials. Zachary Krahmer | Senior Staff Photographer

A bright spot for the Colonials was freshman guard Alexis Chandler, who scored a career-high 10 points off the bench, getting some extra playing time with only eight players dressed for the game.

Senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp, nursing a day-to-day foot injury, and graduate student guard Brooke Wilson, with a knee injury, sat out.  Freshman guard Aaliyah Brown was cleared to play this morning, but “didn’t seem herself,” Tsipis said, and played only two minutes for the Colonials.

With the shortage of guards, Chandler took advantage of her opportunities, going 3-5 from the field and making all four of her free throws. Her energy was a spark the team needed in the second half, something Tsipis said did not come as a surprise.

“What you saw today when she attacked the baseline in the first half and finished and even in transition in the second half, she’s been doing that more and more,” Tsipis said. “I think she knows the team needs her defensively to bring that enthusiastic presence where she’s really loud and on the ball.”

Sophomore guard Chakecia Miller scored a team-high 20 points and senior forward  Megan Nipe put up 17 points of her own, but those were not enough to combat the five Hawk starters who all scored in double figures.  Leading the way of those starters for the Hawks was Shields, who scored a game high 25 points off of 7-12 shooting.

GW outrebounded the Hawks 41-34 and had an 18-6 advantage on second-chance points, but its 36.5 percent shooting compared to the opponents’ 43.4 percent did the team in, ultimately making the first half deficit too much to overcome.

“I feel like we need to learn how to play hard for the full 40 minutes and like coach mentioned, not just the second half,” Miller said.

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