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Women’s basketball can’t keep up with Terps, suffer first loss of season

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

Graduate student guard Megan Nipe struggles to get past a Cal defender during last Saturday's 75-72 victory. Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor
Graduate student guard Megan Nipe struggles to get past a Cal defender during last Saturday’s 75-72 victory. Hatchet File Photo

College Park, MD – The buzz was building for the women’s basketball team’s first matchup with No. 8/7 Maryland since 2006.

GW headed into the game on a high after a home court upset over then-ranked No. 10 Cal. It was the Colonials first win over a ranked opponent since 2007 and a victory that had much of the women’s basketball world talking, as GW garnered 16 votes in the latest AP top 25 poll.

But the Terps proved themselves to be on a whole other level than the Colonials, outscoring GW 42-22 in the first half, on their way to a lopsided 87-51 victory.

“I think you saw tonight a team in Maryland that has all the parts to make a deep NCAA tournament run. And we’re still learning how to take a big win and take that next step forward,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.

GW’s three-point upset of Cal last weekend wouldn’t have been possible if not for the 31-point performance from graduate student Megan Nipe.

The Colonials would need just as good a performance from Nipe to take down the Terps on their own court Tuesday, and Maryland knew it. Nipe finished with a team-high 13 points off of 6-19 shooting. The most startling stat, though, was her 0-5 line from beyond-the-arc – an area that Nipe and the Colonials have thrived all season.

As a team, the Colonials shot 35 percent from the field and went 0-15 from three.

“[Nipe] had a pretty special night on Friday night and I think we relied on her too much tonight. We’ve got to have other people who have to be the aggressors,”Tsipis said.

Nipe could only find her game when she stepped inside the arc for a pull-up jumper or when she drove to the lane, but even then, she only managed to get to the free throw line once.

“Every player on our team knew the scout on her [Nipe] in terms of needing to know where she was on the floor and making her have to take difficult shots,” Maryland head coach Brenda Frese said.

Meanwhile, Nipe’s backcourt partner, Danni Jackson, had trouble in a game in which she only needed eight points to reach a 1,000 career total points.

Jackson tried shooting over the tall Maryland defense, but couldn’t find her touch from outside or in the lane. She finished the game with five points, four turnovers and four assists – the only four assists GW would have as a team.

“By no means do I think we are a selfish team. I think we are an unselfish group that tries to make the extra pass and tries to get in and find somebody an easier shot,” Tsipis said. “I think sometimes when the play broke down out of frustration we drove it, just trying to get the rim or get a foul.”

As in the matchup against Cal, GW took another as-expected beating on the boards, getting out rebounded 53-32 and outscored in the paint 48-28.

Early on, freshman Caria Washington reminded the Terps that GW wasn’t going to be pushed around, with a big block that drew a crowd reaction. But her size, compared to that of the Maryland post players, was laughable. It was a difficult night all-around for Washington – around the glass, offensively and defensively. She would foul out of the game with a final stat line of six shot attempts totaling two points, along with three rebounds.

Graduate student Brooke Wilson added two blocks of her own and came up with a big steal at the top of the key six minutes into the game. Down 10-8, she ran the fast break on her own, missed the shot, but went to the line to shoot two. Wilson missed both free throw shots – a foreshadowing of GW’s struggles at the free throw line Tuesday. They shot just 50 percent from the stripe, 7-14.

Wilson’s most important role was to handle preseason All-American Alyssa Thomas. Just a  game after scoring 20 points and recording 14 rebounds, Thomas once again led the Terps, scoring 18 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out three assists.

When asked how to guard her, a player Tsipis saw back when he was on the coaching staff at Notre Dame, he replied, “You guard her with three people.”

“We [Notre Dame] tried to recruit her and she’s grown as a basketball player. ” Tsipis said, of the Harrisburg, Pa product. “Her leadership is much more than that high motor she plays with all the time. She’s got other people playing with that motor now.”

The Colonials will look to rebound at home against USC Upstate next Monday. It will likely serve as a tune-up before the team’s big Thanksgiving series against Georgia and company in the Georgia State Invitational.

“Having your third game against the eighth ranked team in the nation is definitely a challenge. We still have stuff to learn and improve on. We’re going to bounce back from it. It’s not the end of the season by any means,” Nipe said.


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