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Women’s basketball cruises to victory at home over VCU

Sophomore forward Jonquel Jones charges to the basket Saturday night against the VCU Rams. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Sophomore Forward Jonquel Jones charges to the basket Saturday night against the VCU Rams. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti.

Entering Wednesday’s game, GW and VCU had similar conference resumes. Sitting back-to-back in the conference standings and similar overall records, the two teams took to the Smith Center floor with the second and third best offenses in the Atlantic 10.

But the Colonials put some space between them and the Rams with an 80-62 victory, and they did it with a balanced offense and suffocating defense.

GW’s man-to-man defense forced the Rams into off-balanced shots, and held them to just over 25 percent shooting on the night. The Colonials on the other hand would shoot almost 49 percent from the field. GW arms were a constantly in the face of ball-handlers, skying for rebounds or contesting shots on VCU possessions all night.

“The man to man tonight, especially in the first half, was as good as we’ve seen it all season,” said head coach Jonathan Tsipis.

A-10 leading scorer Robyn Parks was averaging over 22 points per game at tipoff, but was held to just 13 Wednesday on 4-21 shooting. She was nowhere to be found as her team tried to get going, scoring her first points from the field with less than nine minutes left to play.

“I think she’s a very athletic player,” graduate student Megan Nipe said. “We had to stick to our fundamentals bigtime and not put her on the free throw line too much and I think we did a really good job of that tonight.”

The game wasn’t always well in hand for GW (17-8, 8-4), however. They were down by as many as nine points early in the first half, the VCU (18-7, 6-6) surge fueled by early turnovers and frantic play in the halfcourt.

But the Colonials would eventually settle down with help from their veteran in Nipe. The six-foot guard, who had a game high 19 points, started raining three’s for the Colonials, and would finish 5-9 from beyond the arc on the night. Nipe’s offensive push was echoed by the GW frontcourt pitching in layups, and combined with VCU missing shots the Colonials found themselves in front.

Not only did Nipe redeem herself after an uncharacteristic two point performance in a loss to Fordham, she exhibited poise when she didn’t play her best to begin the game, which seemed to be contagious as the team didn’t panic and turned the game around.

“I actually came out in this game and had a rough start as well with a missed three, a foul and a turnover,” Nipe said. “I was determined not to make it like my last game.”

The Colonials’ great offensive balance made it hard for the Rams to truly crack down on defense. With the exception of freshman Shannon Cranshaw, who only played four minutes Thursday, every single GW player scored at least one basket. By game’s end the bench would score 29 points, it was all about unselfish play for the Colonials.

Out of the hole and ahead by two, Jones got the ball in front of an open basket off the fastbreak. Instead of taking a wide open layup she tossed it backwards to Nipe, who buried a three.

“Even I was surprised,” Nipe said. “That was just the flow of the game, though. Being unselfish was really what got that huge spurt going where we just took off.”

GW went on a 32-9 run to close out the first half with the lead swelling to 29 points early in the second.

“The offense felt really efficient, the team was working great together,” Jones said. “Everyone was moving and getting into open spaces.”

Jones was untouchable inside for the Colonials, posting a double double with 17 points and 17 boards. Her frontcourt partner, freshman Caira Washington, joined her with 14 points and 10 rebounds of her own.

“Sometimes it looks like they’re just throwing it back up to themselves,” Nipe joked.

The frontcourt duo lead GW off the glass, where they outrebounded the Rams 52-32. The Rams did not get a single second chance point.

“When you don’t give a team any second chance points, then that’s one way, especially when it’s a team on the road, you can take away that confidence,” Tsipis said.

With the win GW improved their home record to 12-3.

The Colonials have a quick turnaround, hosting Massachusetts on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. in the Smith Center.

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