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NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, First Round: GW vs Gonzaga

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 #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.

Atlantic 10 Championship: GW vs. Dayton

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#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.

Atlantic 10 Semifinals: GW vs. Fordham

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#1 George Washington Colonials (27-3, 15-1 A10) vs. #4 Fordham Rams (20-10, 11-5 A10)
11 AM, Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA
Media: WRGW, CBS Sports Network
Announcers: Mike Martenak, Jeff Pawling
Click Here to Listen Live

The top-seeded Colonials took care of business on Friday morning in Richmond, getting some much awaited payback on the only A10 team to beat them in the regular season, Saint Louis. GW held off a late charge from the Billikens to win 77-63, behind 24 points from Caira Washington and Jonquel Jones‘ 18th double-double of the season (14 points, 15 rebounds), to advance to the Atlantic 10 semifinals.

In the semis, the Colonials will face the fourth-seeded Fordham Rams, who emerged from a dogfight with fifth-seeded Richmond 46-45. In GW’s lone meeting with Fordham this season back on February 21st at the Smith Center, the Rams stayed with GW for a half before Jonquel Jones transformed into Michael Jordan in the second half and turned in a record-setting performance. Jones set a new school record for most consecutive field goals made in a single game as she finished a perfect 10-10 from the field (2-2 from beyond the arc) for 22 points in just 18 minutes of action in an 83-65 win. Washington had paced the Colonials in the first half en route to an 18-point performance and Kelli Prange also chipped in 12 points in the win.

The Colonials heavily utilized their trio of top-notch bigs in the first meeting with Fordham. That will most likely be the formula for victory in the rematch. Fordham is a well-coached, fundamentally sound squad, but at least in the first game, the Rams did not have the height or physicality to stick with the Colonials for a full 40 minutes. Both teams will enter with the same amount of rest so the fatigue element should be relatively moot. If GW can replicate the game plan they used to wear down the Rams in the first game, there is no reason why the Colonials cannot take care of business against Fordham a second time and advance to the Atlantic 10 Championship Game.

WRGW’s coverage with Mike Martenak and Jeff Pawling begins at 10:50 with tip off scheduled for 11 am on gwradio.com.

Atlantic 10 Quarterfinals: GW vs. Saint Louis

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#1 George Washington Colonials (26-3, 15-1 A10) vs. #9 Saint Louis Billikens (14-15, 7-9 A10)
11 AM, Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, VA
Media: WRGW, American Sports Network, CSN+
Announcers: Jeff Pawling, Mike Martenak
Click Here to Listen Live

The Atlantic 10 regular season champion George Washington Colonials get set to tip off their portion of the Atlantic 10 Championship bright and early on Friday morning when they take on the ninth-seeded Saint Louis Billikens.

The Colonials racked up Atlantic 10 accolades on Monday afternoon, with four members taking home honors. Head Coach Jonathan Tsipis garnered A10 Coach of the Year honors, becoming the first GW coach to win the award since Joe McKeown in 2007. Caira Washington was named to the A10 First Team and Kelli Prange earned a spot on the All-Rookie Team. But the bulk of the awards were taken home by star forward Jonquel Jones, who became the first player to win both A10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season since 2012, when Temple’s Shey Peddy achieved the feat. She also became the first Colonial to win Player of the Year since Kimberly Beck in 2008.

GW’s first opponent in the A10 Championship is a foe that should be familiar to the players, coaches, and fans. Saint Louis handed the Colonials their lone conference loss of the season back on February 11th, when they converted 11 three-pointers en route to a 79-61 win at Chaifetz Arena. The Billikens got out to a fast start in that game and were able to break GW’s press early and often and spread out their defense. GW managed to dig themselves out of a deep first half hole, but the second half became a disaster as they were outscored 51-36 by the sharpshooting Billikens and seemed to run out of energy as their 19-game winning streak came to an end.

No great team should need motivation for a conference tournament game, but the loss to these Billikens on February 11th should certainly have this team fired up and out for revenge on Friday morning. GW has played fantastic basketball since the loss and enter postseason play with tons of momentum and if they continue to play at that high level, the Colonials should get their payback and prove the previous loss was nothing more than a fluke.

WRGW’s coverage begins at 10:50 am with tip off scheduled for 11 am on gwradio.com.