#6 George Washington Colonials (29-3, 15-1 A10) vs. #11 Gonzaga Bulldogs (24-7, 16-2 WCC)
7:30 PM, Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, OR
Media: WRGW, ESPN2/WatchESPN
Announcer: Jeff Pawling
Click Here to Listen Live
The long wait is over as the George Washington Colonials return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. GW has to travel across the country for their appearance, as they face a tough Gonzaga Bulldogs team in the First Round of the Spokane Region.
It has been 12 days since the Colonials thrilling comeback win against Dayton to capture the Atlantic 10 Tournament title and automatic bid to the Big Dance. GW was fueled by Jonquel Jones‘ incredible second half performance, in which she scored 16 of her 21 total points, including four three-pointers, en route to being named the Atlantic 10 Championship’s Most Outstanding Player. Caira Washington and Hannah Schaible were also integral parts of the Colonials’ rally from an eight-point halftime deficit and joined Jones on the All-Tournament Team.
Today’s matchup with 11-seed Gonzaga, the first ever meeting between the two programs, is by no means an easy one. In fact, the Colonials may have drawn the toughest of the 11-seeds in the field as Gonzaga boasts a potent offense that is backed up solid defense and excellent team rebounding. The Bulldogs are led by Sunny Greinacher, the WCC’s 10th leading scorer at 13.7 points per game on 48.5 percent shooting, good for third in the conference. She also grabs 6.0 rebounds per game and, in combination with leading rebounder Shelby Cheslek (8.5 rpg), forms a potent duo on the boards that will present challenges to the Colonials’ front court of Jones and Washington. Keani Albanez is another offensive weapon the Bulldogs lean on, especially from beyond the arc, where she made a team-best 58 three-pointers. Schaible, Shannon Cranshaw, and Brianna Cummings will need to be locked in and use their length to shut down Albanez from the outside if GW wants to prevail in this first round matchup.
Make no mistake, the matchup with Gonzaga, on paper, shows that the game could be a difficult one. Gonzaga has suffered its share of disappointment in the last couple of years, having been upset in the semifinals of the WCC Tournament by eventual champion BYU and having been upset in last year’s NCAA Tournament as a 6-seed by 11-seed James Madison. The roles are now reversed for the Bulldogs, with Gonzaga coming in as the lower-seeded team and there is no doubt that they will be fired up to right the wrongs of last year.
As for the Colonials, today marks the return to the NCAA Tournament and, hopefully, the beginning of an era that hearkens back to the days of Joe McKeown. Jonathan Tsipis has done an incredible job turning this program around in three short years. More importantly, he knows from his days at Notre Dame what it takes to win in the postseason. We saw it at the Atlantic 10 Tournament and now we get to see it on display at the NCAA Tournament. GW may have gotten the worst draw of any team in the dance, but don’t expect Tsipis and company to use that as an excuse. As he said in his press conference yesterday, they have been playing with a chip on their shoulder “since the beginning of the season.” As long as the Colonials play their game and can dictate the pace and style of play, there is no reason why GW cannot move on to the second round.
WRGW’s coverage live from Corvallis will begin at 7:20 with tip off tentatively scheduled for 7:30 pm on gwradio.com.
The George Washington Colonials earned their first Atlantic 10 Tournament championship since 2003 and clinched their first ticket to the NCAA Tournament since 2008 with a thrilling 75-62 victory over Dayton yesterday at the Richmond Coliseum. In case you missed it, here are the highlights, courtesy of RaiseHigh TV with WRGW’s Jeff Pawling and Mike Martenak on the call.
And in case you were wondering where the Colonials will be traveling for the Big Dance, the latest Bracketology from ESPN’s Charlie Creme doesn’t have GW traveling anywhere. In fact, Creme has the Colonials hosting first and second round matchups at the Charles E. Smith Center. So get ready, because GW basketball on Tex Silverman Court may not be done just yet.
But for now, congratulations to the 2015 Atlantic 10 Champion George Washington Colonials! The official bracket and seedings for the NCAA Tournament will be revealed on Monday, March 16th at 7 pm on ESPN.
#1 George Washington Colonials (28-3, 15-1 A10) vs. #2 Dayton Flyers (25-5, 14-2 A10)
1 PM, Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA
Media: WRGW, ESPNU/WatchESPN
Announcers: Jeff Pawling, Mike Martenak
Click Here to Listen Live
After 31 games, including 15 regular season conference wins, a regular season conference championship, and two tournament wins this weekend, the top-seeded George Washington Colonials will lay it all on the line in the Atlantic 10 Championship Game against the second-seeded Dayton Flyers with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament at stake.
Sunday’s championship game will be the third meeting between GW and Dayton, with the Colonials emerging victorious in the previous two matchups. GW’s first win over the Flyers on January 4th was considered by many to be an upset, as the Colonials rode a 24-point, 17-rebound performance from Jonquel Jones to their first A10 win of the season by a final of 69-66 at UD Arena. By the next time these two teams met on February 8th, pundits around the league knew how good GW was. The Colonials would also win that game at the Smith Center 67-56 behind an 18-point, 18-rebound performance from Jones.
However, it is tough to face any team three times in the same season, let alone beat them. Dayton is hoping that the third time’s the charm for them as they look to seek revenge for their previous two defeats to GW and complete unfinished business from last year, when as the top seed in the A10 Tournament, they were upset by Fordham in the championship game. The Colonials will need to lock down Flyers leading scorer Andrea Hoover, considered by most to be one of the two best players in the entire conference. Ally Malott, who injured her leg during the second half of Dayton’s semifinal win against Duquesne, will also need to play through the pain and be a difference-maker for the Flyers if they are to have a chance of beating GW.
Jonathan Tsipis and this Colonials team have waited a long time for this moment and now sit on the cusp of hoisting some major hardware and clinching the first automatic NCAA Tournament bid of the Tsipis era. GW is certainly clicking on the court right now and they have the blueprint for how to knock off a team many considered to be the best in the conference during the preseason. If the Colonials can stay composed and not let the moment become too big for them, there is no reason why they cannot knock off Dayton for a third time and bring the Atlantic 10 title back to Foggy Bottom.
Either way, it is shaping up to be a great game tomorrow at the Richmond Coliseum. WRGW’s coverage with Jeff Pawling and Mike Martenak begins at 12:50 with tip off scheduled for 1 pm on gwradio.com.
In case you missed it, highlights from earlier today where GW defeated Fordham 72-60 to advance to tomorrow afternoon’s Atlantic 10 Championship Game.
Credit to RaiseHigh TV for putting together the highlight package, with WRGW’s Mike Martenak and Jeff Pawling providing commentary.