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

Women’s basketball’s season comes to close after A-10 tourney loss to Rhode Island

Rachel Schwartz | Assistant Photo Editor
Senior guard Nya Lok led the Colonials with 21 points, making seven of her 17 attempts and capturing six rebounds.

They weren’t going down without a fight.

Women’s basketball lost to Rhode Island 68-56 in a physical quarterfinals battle in the Atlantic 10 tournament Friday evening, putting an end to GW’s best season since 2018.

The second-seeded Rams outmatched the seventh-seeded Colonials for most of the game, but a furious GW run in the fourth quarter cut the lead to 4 and put the Colonials within striking distance. But the Rams, led by junior forward Mayé Touré and sophomore guard Sophie Phillips, never gave up their lead as the minutes ticked down.

The game was physical – a total of 39 fouls were called and the teams combined for 37 turnovers. But the Rams, with a height advantage and fresh legs after a double-bye, maintained pressure on the Colonials, limiting GW, who never led, to 30.6 percent shooting from the field.

“I’m just really proud of our team today, playing 40 minutes through a lot of adversity throughout the game,” Head Coach Caroline McCombs said after the game. “Rhode Island’s a really good team – the top team in the league – so we knew it was going to be a huge battle for us.”

Senior guard Nya Lok led the Colonials with 21 points, making seven of her 17 attempts and capturing six rebounds. The Rams held graduate student guard Mia Lakstigala, who nailed Thursday night’s game-winning shot to send GW to the quarterfinals, to just 4 points on 1-12 shooting.

Touré, the A-10’s Most Improved Player, kicked off the scoring for Rhode Island with a layup just 18 seconds in. But the game quickly settled into a defensive slugfest – neither team made a field goal for the next 3:44 – until Touré banked in a jumper for her second basket of the night.

GW started 0-6 from the field and wouldn’t earn a basket until senior forward Faith Blethen sunk a 3-pointer with 3:56 left in the quarter to cut Rhode Island’s lead to 3. Taking advantage of Rhode Island’s also-tepid offensive output, a steal by redshirt senior forward Mayowa Taiwo set up Blethen perfectly for another 3 which she sunk to tie up the game.

The first quarter ended in despair for the Colonials when junior guard Asjah Inniss fouled graduate student guard Sayawni Lassiter while she heaved a half-court desperation shot. Lassiter would sink each of her three free throws, and Rhode Island would enter the second quarter leading 13-8.

The Colonials shot 2-12 in the first period, and the Rams made just four of their 14 attempts, with 11 turnovers between the squads.

If the first quarter was an offensive trickle, the second quarter was a flood.

Referees called a technical foul on McCombs after debating a foul called on Taiwo with 9:28 to go in the quarter. Rhode Island would sink both free throws and a spinning jumper off the glass from Touré put Rhode Island up 18-8.

But GW struck back, as Lok sunk a contested layup and 3-pointer to stop the Rhode Island run and Inniss nabbed a steal and took it to the bank on the fast break with about seven minutes left.

The teams traded blows for the next five minutes with Rhode Island grabbing a 29-22 lead with 2:23 left.

Rhode Island’s Phillips astonished the crowd when, with 2:12 remaining in the half, she blocked a Lakstigala 3-point attempt, stole the ball from Lok after the guard grabbed the rebound and drove coast to coast to sink a contested layup in a highlight-reel-worthy sequence.

GW closed the half out strong as two of Lok’s shots from inside the paint cut the lead to 7, and GW entered the break trailing 33-26. Lok scored 12 points in the quarter. The teams scored 38 points in the high-scoring period after combining for just 21 in the first.

The second half started much like the first, with both teams struggling to put points on the board.

The Colonials went nearly five minutes without a field goal until Lok scored a driving layup. Despite impressive scoring defense, the Rams were marked by foul trouble, committing their fifth with just six minutes remaining.

A three by Phillips cemented a lead, which was 49-39 at the end of the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, three quick GW turnovers helped the Rams to go on a 7-2 run, leading to a GW timeout to reset the defense.

The break was able to recharge the Colonials, who went on an incredible 13-0 run of their own, led by freshman guard Nya Robertson, who scored 13 of her 19 points in the final quarter.

“I just put it all on the court, never knowing when my last shot might be,” Robertson said.

Robertson was able to sink two clutch 3s, with GW’s press defense forcing the Rams to cough up the ball multiple times. With just under three minutes remaining, Taiwo was able to steal the ball while administering a full-court press and immediately slung the ball to Robertson, who swished in a 3-pointer.

Just a minute later, senior guard Essence Brown blocked a URI jumper and grabbed the rebound, passing the ball to Robertson who hit another 3, bringing the Colonial bench to its feet and cutting the deficit to 58-54, the lowest since midway through the third.

With the Colonials focused on their press defense, URI graduate student guard Madison Hattix-Covington was able to sneak behind and was found wide open for a layup attempt, increasing the lead to 6 with just under 90 seconds remaining.

After a GW foul on Touré granted URI an extra pair of points, Robertson fought through contact to sink a floater and bring the Colonials within 6 with a minute remaining.

Both teams committed a turnover and a GW foul sent Phillips to the line, where she sank both with 0:54 left. Over the game, URI went an impressive 21 for 23 from the charity stripe, a notable improvement from the team’s first matchup, where they only made 13 on 24 free-throw attempts.

“If we didn’t make free throws today, we lose this game,” Rhode Island Head Coach Tammi Reiss, the A-10’s Coach of the Year, said.

Following a miss by Robertson, the Rams regained possession up 8 with 50 seconds remaining. Lakstigala quickly committed a foul, sending Touré to the line, where she increased the lead to 10.

After an offensive foul by Blethen, URI took one more trip to the line before the final buzzer sounded, pushing their lead to the final score of 68-56, sending GW home from the A-10 Championship.

Despite a valiant comeback effort, the URI defense and free throw shooting proved too strong for the Colonials, who finished their season 18-13.

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About the Contributor
Zach Blackburn, Editor in Chief
Zach, a senior majoring in political communication, is the 2023-24 editor in chief of The Hatchet. He previously served as senior news editor and assistant news editor of the Metro beat. He hails from West Columbia, South Carolina.
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