Women’s basketball captured a nail-biting victory against Memphis Sunday.
The Colonials (2-2) fell behind in the second quarter to the Tigers (1-3) and spent the rest of the game climbing back. After a back-and-forth fourth quarter, a last second layup by redshirt freshman forward Mayowa Taiwo pushed GW to the 64–63 win.
“Honestly, our problem the last three games has been our offense creating offense for the other teams,” head coach Jennifer Rizzotti said. “So we just really tried to simplify how we were entering the ball into our offense and use different people so that our point guards didn’t have the brunt of the responsibility.”
Sophomore guard Maddie Loder exploded on offense, leading the team with 18 points and seven assists. She filled in for redshirt junior guard Sydney Zambrotta, who sat on the sidelines with an injury. On the defensive side, Neila Lum led the team with eight rebounds followed by Taiwo, who ripped six boards.
“I thought Maddie had a tremendous game,” Rizzotti said. “She’s super vocal for us on defense and she needs to be because that’s not an area where she’s going to maybe be a lockdown defender, so she’s got to learn how to be really vocal and really smart.”
While the Colonials came away with the win, the Tigers exposed some of the team’s weaknesses that have plagued GW’s offense. Memphis forced 13 of the Colonials’ 22 turnovers, earning 27 points and 42.9 percent of its total offense from GW ball handling errors.
Memphis also dominated the fast break, sinking 20 points compared to the Colonials’ three. The Tigers outmanned GW in the paint, scoring 38 points to GW’s 20. But GW outshot Memphis, coming away with a 43.4 percentage from the field. Memphis held the Tigers to 36.8 percent from inside the arc.
Freshman forward Faith Blethen knocked down a three to cut the lead after Memphis began scoring. The Colonials managed to take over the Tigers with strong shooting, nabbing a .462 field goal percentage to the Tigers’ .294 clip. By the end of the quarter, the Colonials led 14–10.
Memphis cut down the lead in the second quarter, but GW continued to keep them at bay. The Tigers proved too much for the Colonial offense, capitalizing on errant passes to score 15 points off nine turnovers to take the lead. At the half’s close, the Colonials trailed the Tigers 36–31.
The Tigers extended its lead in the third quarter, capitalizing off Colonial miscues and a scoring drought to pull ahead by 11 points.
“We didn’t quite come out of the locker room great after halftime and they were able to build that lead,” Rizzotti said. “I was very happy with our response in the last five minutes of the third quarter to get the game back to a manageable place. We haven’t been able to do that the last two games, so I’m certainly pleased with our progress there.”
Luma managed to end the drought off a free throw shot, giving the Colonials a boost of momentum to cut the lead down to 43–45.
“We did a much better job in the second half of just making the game simple and passing it to open people because our offense, actually when we we don’t turn it over, our shooting percentages have been pretty good,” Rizzotti said.
In the fourth quarter, GW finally recovered the lead near the six-minute mark and gave itself a small buffer of 59–54 with less than five minutes remaining.
“Our guys did a great job of communicating and rotating and dropping down to box out get rebounds in the half court defensively,” Rizzotti said. “That allowed us to get a little bit of a cushion in the fourth quarter.”
The squad trailed in the final two seconds by a slim margin of 62–63. Loder threw Taiwo a pass and she nailed the layup as the clock expired to give the Colonials the eleventh hour victory.
The Colonials return to the court Wednesday at No. 8 Maryland. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m.