Miller Scores 18, Booker Secures Double-Double as Colonials Cruise Past Butler

Raynell Cooper
Women’s Basketball Writer

WASHINGTON— In what Coach Jonathan Tsipis called their “most complete game of the year,” the Colonials Women’s Basketball team nabbed a 17-point win against a hot Butler team, 77-60. The Bulldogs, who have the Atlantic 10’s top-scoring pure forward in junior Daress McClung, came into this game winning five of their last six games. However, GW outrebounded Butler by 23, the Colonials’ largest margin of the year, and they were able to stop some of Butler’s best shooters.

On McClung for most of the game was graduate student forward Tara Booker. Tsipis was pleased with the way Booker “didn’t let [McClung] get going rebounding-wise.” Booker finished the game with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and three steals. Sophomore guard Chakecia Miller scored 18, going over 12 for the third time this season. Graduate student center Sara Mostafa and senior guard Danni Jackson both also scored in double figures, the latter notching six assists as well.

Four out of five Booker field goals came from beyond the arc as GW shot 8-14 from three, giving them their most made threes in conference play. Booker and senior forward Megan Nipe started the game with a trio of threes in the first four minutes of the game, as they were finding open jumpers, primarily in transition. Outside shooting was key for GW, especially in the first half. “Butler was trying to force us to take outside shots,” noted Booker after the game. This ended up being problematic for GW, as the Colonials missed 10 straight shots after scoring their first 10 points. The shooting drought allowed for a Butler run, as they led by as much as five in the first half.

The Colonials defense was forcing Butler to go late into the shot clock, as they have in some of their more successful defensive performances. GW finished the half on a 10-2 run and went into the intermission up 34-28. The big stat from the first half was the offensive rebounding as Booker, Mostafa, and senior forward Shi-Heria Shipp each had three. The offensive rebounding was a key part of this win for GW, as they provided not only extra chances but “a lot of confidence and momentum” in the words of Booker. The second, third, and occasional fourth chances the Colonials were getting helped deflate the Butler Bulldogs.

The second half started with a bang, as GW sank nine of their first 10 shots. Butler’s defense was allowing more penetration, and the Colonials, especially Mostafa and Shipp, were able to take advantage of that. Butler’s tallest player in the game, 6’2” sophomore center Liz Stratman, was taken advantage of on both ends by Mostafa, whose production on offense was an improvement over some of her performances from earlier in the season, where she had a tough time with put-ins.

This win was an impressive win for the Colonials. Many of the things that were not going well for GW earlier in the season clicked today. Guard play has often held GW back, but Miller and Jackson were as hawkish as always on defense and were very efficient in running the offense. Ball movement, not just from the point guards, led to 23 assists, a season high, on 30 made field goals. Tsipis said that it was crucial that GW was “making that next pass, making that right play” and setting up good shots instead of forcing bad ones. Butler never really controlled the pace of the game thanks to the energy they showed on the defensive end.

Sunday’s win is key for the Colonials’ push for the postseason. The win, coupled with Saint Louis’ loss, moves the Colonials to seventh in the conference. Coach Tsipis talked in the postgame press conference about playing with confidence and focus. “If you can rebound the basketball,” said Tsipis, “and you can defend…even if the ball’s not going in you still have that confidence that you can compete and win.”  The mindset in the last part of the season is key for Tsipis. He put a big “6” on the whiteboard in the locker room before the game, denoting the number of games GW had left on their schedule, to instill a sense of urgency and finality to these games down the stretch. With road tests against two of the top teams in the conference coming up at Fordham and Charlotte this week, the Colonials need to play with the same determination and focus that they did tonight.

The Colonials (11-12, 5-4 Atlantic 10) will try to move to .500 when they travel to the Bronx to take on Fordham (16-6, 6-1 Atlantic 10) on Wednesday. Tip is at noon, and you can catch all the action on WRGW Sports – Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com.

Posted on February 10, 2013, in Campus, GW Basketball, Women's Basketball and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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