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Defense falters in women’s basketball’s season-opening loss

Then-junior guard Chakecia Miller squeezes pass a George Mason defender for a layup last season. File Photo by Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer
Then-junior guard Chakecia Miller squeezes pass a George Mason defender for a layup last season. File Photo by Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rob Bartnichak.

Last season, women’s basketball had a perfect record when scoring 70 points or more in a game. But in the team’s season opener Friday at Florida Gulf Coast, the defense could not hold up in an 88-75 loss to the Eagles.

Freshman Kelli Prange started in place of junior Jonquel Jones, who missed the game due to illness, and led the Colonials with a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds, but the team allowed FGCU to shoot 51 percent in the loss.

“If you score 75 points on the road, you should be able to win,” Tsipis said. “A lot of it was on the other end of the floor where we’ve got to be better.”

GW allowed FGCU to score in droves by committing 25 turnovers, which the Eagles converted into 26 points.

The team seemed to have trouble communicating, with players scoring for themselves and sharing the ball rarely with only nine assists in the game.

“You’re not going to win a lot of games, home or away, when you have nine assists and 25 turnovers,” Tsipis said. “But you can’t spend time worrying about what happened in the last game.”

Tsipis said the Eagles’ willingness to both take three-point shots and forgo them created some confusion on defense, which allowed FGCU to take back momentum in the game. FGCU made seven of 15 attempted threes during the game.

GW jumped to an early lead, going ahead by as much as 10 points five minutes into the first half. But then FGCU took a lead it would never relinquish with 6:30 remaining in the first.

“I thought we started out playing a pace that we wanted,” Tsipis said. “But Florida Gulf Coast just did a better job in the last five or six minutes.”

The Colonials came within one point with 5:22 left in the second half, but were unable to pull ahead.

Tsipis said early foul trouble also allowed the Eagles to stage a late first-half comeback. Sophomore guard Hannah Schaible and sophomore forward Caira Washington were both taken out of the game in the first half after recording two fouls each.

In their absence, Prange found space for a breakout performance. Of her 12 rebounds, seven came off the offensive glass, and Prange also had a block and two assists in the game.

“I just wanted to go into the game and have fun really,” Prange said. “I just went in with an open mind without really knowing what to expect from my first official college game.”

Even with the loss, Tsipis said he was happy with the way his team came back in the second half and succeeded in the rebound battle, beating FGCU off the boards 49-30 in total rebounds during the game. He said the game was scheduled early in the season knowing the Colonials would face a well-prepared team that played in the postseason last year.

“Now we’re going on the road again, so it’s an opportunity for us to be really mature,” Tsipis said. “But we need to understand that if we’re better defensively, that’s going to give us a better opportunity to win.”

The Colonials will be back in action against American on Monday at 5 p.m. on the road.

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