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PAUL closes in Western Market
By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Women’s basketball outlasts George Mason in OT

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Agam Mittal.

In game one of the annual Revolutionary Rivalry series between the two local foes, women’s basketball (11-6, 4-1 A-10) outlasted the George Mason Patriots (9-9, 2-3 A-10), 79-71, in overtime.

Once again, the Colonials received a stellar performance from graduate transfer Lexi Martins, who recorded her fourth consecutive double-double with 16 points and ten rebounds. The Lehigh transfer has been on a tear of late, averaging 13.8 points and 10.8 boards in conference play, both team-highs.

“[Martins] does a great job of reading the offense, working really hard on the low block to get position and being ready to shoot on the kick-outs from Caira,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “It’s a matter of her fitting in well in our offensive system and being confident in that system and our guys are doing a great job of getting her the ball when she’s open.”

Martins – who also collected her 1,000th career rebound during the contest – was one of five upperclassmen in double-figures for the Colonials. The team’s veteran leadership and experience keyed a second half comeback in which GW outscored the Patriots 18-4 in the third quarter to erase an 11-point, 32-21 halftime deficit.

Nonetheless, Rizzotti was unhappy with the team’s slow start to the game, in which the Colonials shot 29 percent from the field in the first half.

“As happy as I was with our intensity in the third quarter, I was kind of disappointed with how we started the game – it wasn’t the intensity we needed to have on both ends of the floor,” Rizzotti said. “We’re still trying to address that and talk about being a consistent team for 40 minutes.”

In the frontcourt, senior center Caira Washington posted 16 points and nine rebounds while also recording two blocks, making her defensive presence felt inside. Senior guard Hannah Schaible also matched her season-high with a team-leading 20 points to go along with nine rebounds, helping to close out the game with 13 of the team’s 18 points in the extra period. Junior forward Kelli Prange (12p) and senior shooting guard Shannon Cranshaw (10p) rounded out the five upperclassmen in double figures.

The Colonials looked out-of-sync and sluggish in the first 20 minutes, shooting just 1-of-11 from beyond the arc and allowed George Mason to get to the line repeatedly. And, despite being one of the best defensive teams in the conference, the Colonials allowed the Patriots to shoot 54 percent from the field in the opening frame.

The Colonials flipped the script in the third quarter, opening with full-court pressure to tire out the opponent and force more perimeter jump shots. Offensively, the Colonials fed off of their defense, finding easy looks in the post and knocking down three-pointers on kick-outs after drawing the defense in.

“We went to an extended zone press and I thought that it really flustered them – they were 1- for-13 in the third quarter,” Rizzotti said of the Colonials’ second-half adjustment. “But I think the fact that we got a lot more shots, we got a bunch of offensive rebounds and we were able to force some turnovers really got our intensity and our excitement up.”

The Patriots were led by redshirt junior guard Kara Wright, who leads her team in scoring, assists, and rebounds. Wright had 23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, doing much of her damage early in the game and late in the fourth quarter but struggling to score during GW’s comeback.

Although the Colonials held an eight-point lead with 2:03 to go, poor free throw shooting by GW left room for a George Mason comeback down the stretch. After Schaible split a pair of free throws to put the Colonials up 60-57, Wright got the ball out of a timeout and sunk a long three from the top of the key to send the game into overtime.

In the extra period, the Patriots ran out of gas after losing two of their top three scorers – Sylvia Maxwell and Alexsis Grate – to foul trouble and injury, respectively. The Colonials were able to close out the game thanks to Schaible, who scored 13 overtime points.

“I was just able to knock down shots and I had a lot more openings in the overtime,” Schaible said. “Since we were really well-conditioned we could cut really hard. With my foul situation I was out of the game a lot and I got a lot of rest, so I was able to play really hard and find open shots.”

Sophomore guard Mei-Lyn Bautista was nearly flawless running the point, recording a career-high nine assists after having zero in a loss to Dayton on Sunday. Bautista’s only blemish was a single turnover late in the game.

“I like to be very unselfish, and that’s my goal every time I go in the game. Today our movement made it so much better for me to see the post, see my links in transition,” Bautista said. “When we’re all on the same page, everyone achieves their goals, and that was my goal today – just to get my teammates the ball.”

The Colonials return home to face the Davidson Wildcats on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

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