Miller, Colonials Defense Shuts Down Rhode Island in Home Win
Women’s Basketball Writer
WASHINGTON— There was a high theft rate reported Sunday around 22nd Street. The culprit: Sophomore guard Chakecia Miller.
Miller recorded ten steals, tying her career high, to go with nine points and a career high eight rebounds as the Colonials cruised to a 57-43 victory over the Rhode Island Rams.
Grad student Tara Booker and senior Shi-Heria Shipp both scored 12 points and both shot over 50% from the field. Grad student Sara Mostafa came off the bench and contributed nine points and eleven rebounds. The Rams were led by guard Tayra Melendez, who scored 17 points and five blocks while on the court for all but two minutes.
The first half was one of runs. GW started out sizzling hot, going on a 20-1 in the early parts of the half, during which Rhode Island shot 0-11 from the field. The offense was clicking on all cylinders, and the defense was not allowing much penetration. The tables turned on the Colonials, however, with the Rams going on a 15-2 run towards the end of the half, in a stretch that included three three-pointers by the Rams and 1-9 shooting from GW. The GW lead, which was, at one point, 18, was brought back down to just a 32-28 advantage at the half.
GW was able to adjust in the second half and stem the momentum of Rhode Island. The Colonials started with a 12-4 run, led by the hawkish defensive play of Miller. After the game, Coach Jonathan Tsipis noted that she “really extended pressure” compared to her play in their loss on Thursday to Dayton. Seven of Miller’s 10 steals came in the second half, as GW was able to extend the lead to as much as 16.
An encouraging sign from this win was the lack of turnovers. They had a season-low 13 turnovers, and executed ball movement very well. Senior guard Danni Jackson delivered some of the game’s best pass plays, setting up Megan Nipe for a fast break early in the second half and setting up Booker for an easy layup in the home stretch of the game.
On both sides of the ball, the guards really stepped up their game. Coach Tsipis noted that “when you have good guard play, you can control the play more.” Miller’s energy on both sides of the ball and Jackson giving what Tsipis called her best defensive performance of the season helped spark this team. The ball movement was crisp and there were some phenomenally-run plays throughout the game, even when the shot did not always fall. Defensively, Miller’s 10 steals speak for themselves. The Rhode Island defense was stifled by her in-your-face guard play, forcing turnovers both in transition (a weak point for the Colonials against Dayton) and late in the shot clock.
Coach Tsipis chose to go for a smaller lineup in this game, starting Shi-Heria Shipp over both Mostafa and freshman Anjaleace White, who had started the last three games. Tsipis was happy with Shipp’s performance, pointing out her ability to outrun the post players for Rhode Island and her ability to “[give] Tara [Booker] a bit more breathing room.” The starting forwards for the Rams were held scoreless, as Booker’s staunch inside defense combined with the guard-heavy play of Rhody led to most of the action happening outside of the paint.
This was a game GW really needed to win. Rhode Island is a team that only won one game last season, so a loss would have been demoralizing for this team. An improved performance out of Danni Jackson, who went 0-10 against Dayton, can do nothing but good things for her confidence at the point guard position.
The Colonials (8-11, 2-3 Atlantic 10) continue their home stand on Wednesday when they face the extremely formidable Duquesne Dukes (16-3, 5-0 Atlantic 10) at 11 a.m. as part of the annual Field Trip Day at the Smith Center. You can listen to all the action on WRGW Sports – Colonials Radio Central.