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The GW Hatchet

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Women’s basketball skids in road loss to Iona

Arielle Bader | Staff Photographer
Sophomore forward Neila Luma scored seven points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds in Sunday’s 52–43 loss to Iona.

Despite leading for nearly 80 percent of the game, women’s basketball was unable to hold onto its lead in a tightly contested matchup against Iona on the road Sunday.

GW (1–3) kicked off the game with a 26-point first quarter, but the Colonials’ offense rapidly cooled off as Iona (1–3) fought back into the competition and took away a 52–43 win – the Gaels’ first of the season.

“We definitely got off to a hot start,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “We got probably a little complacent about continuing to work hard to score when they adjusted their defense.”

Senior guard Mei-Lyn Bautista led GW with eight points and three assists, followed by sophomore forward Neila Luma – who scored seven points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. While not a single Colonial ended the day with double-digit scoring, every player who took the court scored at least one basket.

An athletic department spokesman declined to provide interviews with athletes postgame, citing a department policy.

The Gaels were lead by junior guard Morgan Rachu, who had 20 points and five rebounds on the day, and redshirt sophomore guard Monica Barefield, who followed with 11 points.

The Colonials owned a 76.9 field goal percentage in the first frame, but ended the contest shooting just 37.5 percent from the floor. Rizzotti said her players were not “shooting to finish,” which they have struggled with this year.

“There’s a difference between executing the play and getting the shot you want and then actually mentally setting yourself up to knock the shot down and make the layup,” Rizzotti said. “We’re just missing that final piece of finishing play.”

GW’s defense forced six more turnovers than its opponent, but 14 points-off-turnover for Iona allowed the mistakes to be mitigated. Rizzotti said her team has been “relying very heavily” on its defense, which is better than it was last year at this time, she said, but GW’s offense is still lagging.

“We’re certainly struggling,” Rizzotti said. “We’re going to struggle to win games until our offense catches up a little bit.”

GW came out strong, scoring more than half of its total points in the first quarter. But the Colonials’ offense soon stagnated, dogged by long stretches of scoreless play and spotty shooting.

The Colonials secured an 11-point lead over the Gaels heading into the second quarter, up 26–15. They sank four three-point shots during the quarter, including a dramatic buzzer-beater from half court with one second left on the clock, courtesy of Bautista.

But GW’s early offensive outburst stood in direct contrast to the rest of the afternoon’s performance. Over the final three quarters, GW posted a 23.4 field goal percentage and scored no more than six points in a frame.

In the second frame, GW was held scoreless for the first six minutes of action, until a jumper from redshirt sophomore forward Olivia Gumbs broke the drought. The Colonials’ lead quickly dwindled, with the Gaels trailing by just one point heading into the half, 32–31.

Both sides shot more than 50 percent from the field in the first half, but frequent turnovers, six for GW and eight for Iona, hamstrung both of their offensive efforts.

The third quarter followed the same trend as the second, with GW going more than seven minutes without scoring. A jumper from sophomore forward Chyna Latimer ended the streak, but it was clear the squad’s offense was struggling.

A three-pointer from Rachu tied the score with a minute left in the quarter, but Latimer found the net again to give GW a 38–36 lead heading into the fourth.

Still, the momentum slipped away from the Colonials in the last minutes of the fourth quarter as the Gaels continued to pile on points. Iona outscored GW by 11 in the final frame and captured the win without controversy.

The Colonials kick off the Cancun Challenge tournament in Mexico at 4 p.m. on Thursday against Georgia Tech.

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