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The GW Hatchet

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

Women’s basketball cold from three-point land after first third of games

File Photo by Eric Lee
The Colonials finished 10 points short of an appearance in the Final Four of 1997’s NCAA tournament.

With nine games under its belt, women’s basketball is still waiting to lock down its three-point shooting.

The Colonials (3-6, 0-3 A-10) are currently knocking down 18.1 percent of its three-point attempts. Their rate ranks them 332 of 336 Division I teams and is on pace to be the lowest in program history. The current low-water mark stands at 27.6 percent by the 2009-10 team.

“It’s just finding that one game where we can break through a little bit and have everyone relax about our perimeter shooting because it will certainly help as we are struggling to score against some of the better defensive teams in the league,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said Sunday after a loss to Dayton.

The Colonials attempt about 14 triples a game, but only 2.6 find their way through the rim. Their 23 made three-balls rank second to last in the Atlantic 10, besting only Saint Louis, who has played just two games this season.

The lack of consistent and steady three-point shooting has forced the ball inside, resulting in 210 points in the paint and bigs accounting for 50.5 percent of the team’s total points. But the squad has still struggled to put points on the board, averaging 56.8 points per game for a rank of 286th of the 336 Division I programs.

“We don’t want to not shoot the three, we want to be selective,” Rizzotti said. “But if you’re a good shooter, and you’re open, you need to be able to take it because that’s going to continue to help us open inside.”

The team’s beyond the arc offense puts it at a disadvantage in conference play, where three-pointers have been crucial to the squads’ offensive production so far this season. Of the top-five scoring offenses in the A-10, four are also in the top-five most efficient three-point shooting teams.

GW’s offense – ranked No. 13 in the conference – is only better than George Mason among A-10 teams, but even the Patriots knock down triples at a 26.4 percent clip.

Last season, the Colonials made 31.4 percent of their attempts from deep and had a go-to threat in the form of then-redshirt freshman guard Tori Hyduke. The point guard sank 40 of her 125 attempts during the campaign. Through her first eight games, Hyduke hit 56.8 percent of her attempts from long distance.

Hyduke has since transferred, and the Colonials have failed to find a similar caliber shooter. Sophomore forward Faith Blethen, who was second on the team in triples last year with 35, has run into a sophomore slump. The guard landed just 22.2 percent of shots from deep, a 16 percent decrease from her average through nine games last season.

“Anyone can emerge as a three-point threat if they can make some threes,” Rizzotti said. “We’re hoping that we can continue to work [Gabby] in, work Sidney back in and get Maddie and Faith going. These are guys I watch every day make shot after shot in practice.”

Junior guard Maddie Loder has taken a team-high 29 shots from beyond the arc, and Blethen leads the squad with six made threes. Loder has hit on two of her attempts, and her 6.9 percent success rate is a significant step back from her 25 percent clip last year.

The Colonials are struggling to hit treys when they matter the most. GW dropped four of its last five contests, losing each game by 10 points or fewer. The team made just 2-of-15 from outside during the fourth quarter in those four losses combined.

In the showdown against Davidson Jan. 1, the Wildcats’ three-point shooting in crunch time lifted them a 66-62 victory. GW did not score a field goal in the final six minutes of play and watched an eight-point lead evaporate, while Davidson drilled two clutch shots from beyond the arc in the last 71 seconds of regulation to tie and then surpass the Colonials.

Against Fordham earlier this month, GW showed improvement in the three-point department but again relinquished its advantage on a triple from its opponent with less than a minute to go. The Colonials shot 36.4 percent from downtown in that matchup, twice their season average, but only scored one bucket in the last 4:30 of the contest.

The Colonials have played without graduate student guard Sydney Zambrotta, who sustained a hand injury prior to the start of the season, for the first eight games. Zambrotta returned Sunday and hit 1-of-5 from deep. She fired at a .299 clip from three-point land last season, including sinking 17-of-48 in her first nine games with the program.

New additions have also provided a glimmer of hope from the three-point line. Freshman forward Caranda Perea, who Rizzotti likened to inside-outside threat and 2019-graduate Kelsi Mahoney, has hit three of her six attempts from three.

Redshirt junior guard Gabby Nikitinaite, who has played in just three games after sitting out the first semester per NCAA transfer rules, sunk two triples against Fordham and a trey against Dayton for a 3-of-11 early season average.

“Our focus right now is just focusing on the little things and getting better each day, day by day,” redshirt junior forward Neila Luma said after the Dayton game Sunday. “We’re just going to get in the gym and keep working.”

The Colonials return to action for a midweek trip to Richmond Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.

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