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Women’s basketball surges past Rhode Island, earns first A-10 win

File photo by Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor
Sophomore forward Neila Luma dribbles the ball during a game against Monmouth last month.

Women’s basketball battled Rhode Island Wednesday night on the road to capture GW’s first Atlantic 10 win of the season.

The score was knotted after the first and second quarters. Heading into the final frame, the Rams (6–8, 1–1 A-10) carried a one-point lead, but the Colonials (4–11, 1–1 A-10) broke away in the fourth quarter following a 13–0 run to snatch the win away from Rhode Island 64–59.

GW and Rhode Island were well-matched on the floor, shooting 40.0 percent and 40.7 percent, respectively, on the night, but standout performances by a trio of Colonials made the difference in a game plagued with turnovers.

Sophomore forward Neila Luma and sophomore guard Lexus Levy both turned in career nights in the effort. Luma ended the game one rebound shy of a double-double, pouring in 20 points while collecting nine boards. Levy went 4-for-7 from beyond the arc in her 16-point effort to lead the Colonials in three-point shooting. Senior forward Kelsi Mahoney also aided the win, contributing 12 points and seven rebounds.

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

Head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said she has spent the season encouraging a balanced offensive production.

“We talked a lot about that all year, that we’re going to be at our best when there are three or four people in double figures, and then we can be threats,” Rizzotti said.

The Colonials’ defense shut down one of Rhode Island’s most dangerous players. Junior guard Davida Dale picked up nine points in the contest – lower than her 13.6 point per game average. Junior center Nicole Jorgensen came just short of her season average with 11 points to her name, but redshirt junior guard Elemy Colome managed to collect 14 points on the night to lead Rhode Island.

The Colonials made the most of their free throw opportunities, going 13-for-19 from the charity stripe while the Rams converted just five of their 11 free throw attempts.

“One of our focuses going into the game was not letting them get to the free throw line, because they are pretty aggressive attacking the basket but they don’t always finish,” Rizzotti said. “In their games where they’ve been successful, they’ve gone to the free throw line a lot.”

Both teams struggled to take care of the ball on the night. The Colonials gave up the rock 19 times with the Rams following closely behind with 18 turnovers. Overall, 36 points were scored off turnovers in the game between both sides.

In the opening seconds of the third quarter, freshman guard Maddie Loder missed a free throw and got a second chance by nabbing the offensive rebound, but lost it again after a turnover by senior guard Mei-Lyn Bautista.

“We talked a lot postgame about how we have to be a little bit more mentally resilient when people turn up the pressure, and be able to look for each other and make sure we’re making great passes,” Rizzotti said. “We can’t be careless.”

The two teams were evenly matched in the first quarter. GW lagged behind by no more than four points for most of the frame, until back-to-back triples from Levy won GW the lead 14–11 with 2:19 left to play. The Rams kept pace with the Colonials and a layup by sophomore guard Maia Moffitt with less than 30 seconds in the frame tied the score at 16 points apiece.

The second frame played out much like the first, with GW trailing the Rams but nipping at the heels of their lead. A four-point swing by Luma paired with another clutch three-pointer from Levy and a layup from Mahoney put GW up 25–22 with about six minutes to go in the frame. Neither team could pull away by more than five points, and a streak of missed three-point shots by the Colonials gave the Rams extra looks at the basket.

A pair of free throws from Mahoney with three seconds before the break knotted the score 30–30. The Rams were more efficient from the field at the half, shooting 41.9 percent on a 13-for-31 clip. GW converted 11-of-33 shots in the first half, but the Colonials went 5-for-6 from the free throw line to keep the game close. The Rams were 2-for-7 from the charity stripe in the same span.

Both teams went back and forth in the penultimate quarter. The Colonials led by four points 40–36 with 6:50 left in the frame after Levy hit another three-point shot, but the Rams capitalized on 10 GW turnovers in the frame to keep the contest from becoming a runaway. The Colonials trailed 46–42 with 44 seconds left in the frame when a buzzer-beating three-point shot from Loder cut into the Rams’ lead 46–45.

The game was a deadlock in the beginning of the fourth quarter, before Luma and Levy embarked on a combined 10–0 run. A three-point shot from Mahoney capped GW’s run and put the score 58–48 in the Colonials’ favor with 5:46 left in the game. The Rams came within two of the lead with 1:59 before the final buzzer, but clutch free throws kept GW afloat. Mahoney’s triple was the last field goal the Colonials made of the night – with GW’s final six points coming from the charity stripe courtesy of Bautista, Levy and Luma.

The Colonials return to the Smith Center Saturday when they host Dayton. Tipoff is slated for noon.

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