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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Cummings sparks late run to help GW top Illinois

This post was written by Hatchet Reporter Marty Fenn.

Brianna Cummings was waiting for a moment to be unleashed.

On a bitterly cold and snowy afternoon in Urbana-Champaign, the sophomore guard got her chance, pouring in a season-high 20 points, with 14 in the second half alone, and sparking a huge 9–0 run late in the fourth quarter to help push GW to a 70–57 win over the Illini on Monday.

“They were in a sort of buzz defense for most of the game, and they were switching all game,” Cummings said. “I had a lot of opportunities with post players guarding me to be aggressive and get to the rim using my speed, which gave me a lot of confidence to keep attacking.”

In a back-and-forth contest, Cummings took over with GW clinging to a 51–49 advantage. She scored three consecutive baskets, fueling the run that would give GW a commanding 60–49 lead that effectively put the Illini away for good.

Cummings was extremely efficient, shooting 7-11 from the field and 6-6 from the free throw line in a career performance.

“[Brianna’s] activity today was incredible,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “Her mindset of attacking the rim and either getting fouled or getting it up on the glass is so important for the rest of the team and our mentality. I think she became more assertive as the game wore on, and she had a couple of great finishes too.”

Cummings has had an increasingly prominent role in the lineup, bringing tenacity on the defensive end and a vast array of skills offensively, including her ability to rebound.

“I’m relied upon for defense and being able to guard the opposing teams’ best player and to show some intensity,” Cummings said. “I think a lot of it is carrying over offensively as I’m getting more involved and finding my game, and just building more chemistry with the rest of the team.”

In addition, the Colonials got strong performances from juniors Caira Washington and Hannah Schaible. Washington notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Schaible added 13 points and six rebounds. Surprisingly, senior Jonquel Jones was inefficient from the field (just 3-10 shooting), but made up for it on the defensive end, locking down the paint with seven big blocks and 14 rebounds, to go along with 10 points.

Although the Colonials once again struggled to control the ball, committing 25 turnovers, they shot a 41 percent clip from the field and held the Illini into just 31.1% shooting from the field and a dismal 3-24 from behind the three-point line. They also dominated the rebounding battle, 56-35.

Neutralizing the perimeter game of the Illini was a particular point of emphasis for the Colonials before the game, and played a huge role on the defensive side of the ball for Tsipis’ squad.

Tsipis mentioned that they knew coming in that the Illini were going to feed off of the shooting of guard Kyley Simmons, who ranks in the top 25 in the nation in three-pointers made as well as three-point percentage.

“We’ve played different teams that are successful from the three-point line, but I thought we had active hands and we didn’t give them space. The fact that they were 0-12 in the second half… they just couldn’t get in a rhythm,” he said.

Tsipis also reiterated the importance of getting wins on the road, and expressed pride in his team’s resolve.

“I am so proud of how we stuck to our plan, even when they would make a run we stuck to our guns and had really solid defense and rebounding throughout. I think these are things that we can take confidence in and use to prepare us for the conference schedule.”

GW returns to the Smith Center to play Hartford on Wednesday afternoon before opening A-10 play against Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia on January 3 in the new year. Tip-off against Hartford is slated for 7 p.m.

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