Miller Layup, Steal Seals Thrilling Colonials Win over Richmond
Women’s Basketball Writer
WASHINGTON—Missed free throws in close games at the Smith Center are something that the GW Women are quite familiar with. But unlike their double overtime loss against Duquesne last week, two key missed foul shots helped the Colonials get the 57-54 win late against the Richmond Spiders.
After a three-point shot by Richmond senior Rachael Bilney with 52 seconds remaining left the Colonials down one, senior guard Danni Jackson had an inbound pass stolen by Bilney, setting up free throws on the other end.
However, she missed the front end of the one-and-one, with the rebound being corralled by grad student forward Tara Booker. After getting it to Jackson, however, she lost the ball and sent Becca Wann to the line with 24 seconds left to try to give the Spiders a three point lead. She also missed her front end, allowing senior guard Shi-Heria Shipp to get the rebound up to sophomore guard Chakecia Miller, who was able to put in the go-ahead layup with 11 seconds remaining thanks to good blocking by her teammates. Miller put icing on the cake by stealing the inbound and putting in another layup to give the Colonials the three point win.
“We have to find a way sometimes, and I feel like we did that” said Miller after the game. She had poise leading the team, running the point for most of the game and operating a great offensive performance. In preparing for end-of-game situations like this, Coach Jonathan Tsipis explained that the team “[tries] to go through those situations every day in practice”
Miller finished as one of three Colonials in double figures, notching ten points and five assists. Shi-Heria Shipp and senior forward Megan Nipe each scored 12 while Booker pulled down double-digit rebounds for the second time in three games, and freshman guard Alexis Chandler played over 10 minutes for the sixth time in seven games.
Defensively, GW was rather effective against the Spiders. Rachael Bilney, whose sister Samantha was in the starting lineup with her, shot eight three-pointers last season in GW’s trip to Richmond. However, her first made shot from downtown came with under a minute left. “We really emphasized the last three days to understand where [Rachael Bilney] was at all points on the floor, and they did it for 39 minutes and eight seconds,” said Coach Tsipis, who was well-aware of the history Bilney had against the Colonials. She scored just six points in 34 minutes of play after averaging 11.7 on the season.
The Colonials went into halftime with a five-point lead, on the back of 53.8 percent shooting from the field. The first half was quite sloppy in terms of ball movement on both sides; GW had 11 turnovers at the intermission while Richmond had 10. The first part of the second half saw a 13-2 run by the Spiders, giving them a six-point lead. Miller knew the team “had to regroup, calm down, and think about what we were doing out there.” GW plays its best when it is patient and calm and not frenetic or wild, as they were at times towards the beginning of the half. Richmond “just had a higher intensity” coming out of the break, according to Tsipis.
Coming off the win against La Salle, this was a team that was riding high, and they carried this energy back down I-95. They executed their game plan to shoot well against this tough Richmond defense and to stop Rachael Bilney and the team, for most of the game. I am sure Coach Tsipis would have wanted a more comfortable win over this Richmond team with just two conference wins, and they would have been much better off with fewer than 19 turnovers, but there are “no style points” as Coach Tsipis mentioned, and this is a team that sure appreciated getting the win.
The Colonials (10-12, 4-4 Atlantic 10) are back at the Charles E. Smith Center on Sunday as they get ready to play the Butler Bulldogs (13-8, 4-2 Atlantic 10) as part of Homecoming Weekend. Tipoff is at 2 p.m., and you can catch all the action on WRGW – Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com.