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Women’s basketball begins tournament play in rubber match against Saint Joseph’s

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nora Princiotti

Who: GW (20-9, 11-5) vs. Saint Joseph’s (22-8, 10-6)

Where: Richmond Coliseum (Richmond, VA)

When: Friday, March 7 at 2:30 p.m.

The Colonials will search for their first Atlantic 10 Conference quarterfinals victory since 2008 against defending conference champion Saint Joseph’s Friday.

The fifth-seeded Lady Hawks earned a spot in Friday’s quarterfinals after toppling No. 12 George Mason 89-55 Thursday.

Case for Saint Joseph’s:

Head coach Jonathan Tsipis said he expects the Lady Hawks to play with a chip on their shoulder in defense of their league title.

“This is their championship to defend and until somebody beats them, they are the defending champions,” Tsipis said Thursday.

GW will be the more well rested team Friday, but in Saint Joseph’s conserved energy in their romp over the Patriots – no one played more than 30 minutes for the Lady Hawks.

Saint Joseph’s is lead by Erin Shields, who averages just over 15 points per game and leads the conference in threes per game. Shields scored 21 points back on Jan 22. when the Hawks defeated the Colonials 76-69 at the smith center.

Tsipis said he thinks both his team and the Lady Hawks have zoned in on their transition games since that meeting which could allow Shields to light it up from beyond the arc.

Shields received a spot on the all-conference second team, joined by her teammate Natasha Cloud, who was also named the A-10’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Cloud’s stellar defense helped Saint Joseph’s put GW in an early hole in their last matchup when the Colonials shot under 25 percent in the first half. The junior guard is also second in the nation in assists, averaging 7.9 per game.

Case for GW:

The Colonials split a pair of regular season matchups with the Lady Hawks, however their loss to Saint Joseph’s came without the play of sophomore Jonquel Jones and an uncharacteristic performance form graduate student Megan Nipe who saw limited playing time due to a nagging knee injury.

Fresh off beating No. 21 Dayton using a balanced attack featuring both scorers, GW should have a more potent offense in the rubber match.

Even without Nipe in the lineup, GW topped Saint Joseph’s 74-67 on the road earlier this season.

A big part of that win against the Lady Hawks was holding Shields to 1-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Graduate student Danni Jackson also adjusted well to guarding her in the teams’ second meeting, holding her to just eight points in the second half, six of them coming from the free throw line.

The Colonials, who Tsipis described as “playing our best basketball,” will have the added advantage of rest afforded by the double bye GW earned by ending the regular season as the fourth best team in the conference.

GW has the tools to get a win Friday, which would most likely put them up against Dayton in the semifinals on Saturday. But as much of the regular season has shown, anything can happen in the postseason.

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