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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.

Women’s Gameday #10: GW vs Memphis

George Washington Colonials (7-2) vs. Memphis Tigers (5-4)
7 PM, Charles E. Smith Center, Washington, DC
Media Coverage: WRGW, RaiseHigh Live, A10 Mobile App
Announcers: Cameron Rohde, Tyrique Wilson
Click Here to Listen Live

Off to the program’s best start in eight years, the GW Women will look to extend their win streak to six on Monday night when they welcome Memphis to Tex Silverman Court on Monday night.

The Colonials completed the sweep of District rivals American and Georgetown with a 72-60 home win over the Hoyas last Tuesday night. Hannah Schaible posted her best game of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds while fellow guard Shannon Cranshaw, filling in for the injured Lauren Chase, added 12 points on four three-pointers. However, it was Jonquel Jones who propelled GW to victory in the second half with 15 points and nine rebounds after spending most of the first half on the bench in foul trouble.

GW will also look to continue their streak of outrebounding their opponents, as they have done so in each game this season. They will attempt to do this against a Memphis squad coming off a 63-46 win over the aforementioned Georgetown Hoyas on Saturday. The Colonials will need to find a way to shut down leading scorer Ariel Hearn, who is fifth in the AAC with 17 points per game. Jonquel Jones will also draw the assignment on Tigers leading rebounder Brianna Wright, who averages 9.8 rebounds a contest.

WRGW’s coverage begins at 6:50 with tip off scheduled for 7 pm on gwradio.com.

2014-15 GW Women’s Basketball Preview

Jeff Pawling
Co-Director

The George Washington Colonials took a huge step forward as a program a year ago, finishing with a record of 23-11 and 11-5 in the Atlantic 10 in Jonathan Tsipis’ second season in Foggy Bottom. Their record was a nine-win improvement, with wins over ranked teams in #10/11 California and conference foe #21 Dayton. They reached the Atlantic 10 Championship semifinals for the first time since 2008 and made their first postseason appearance since 2009 with a bid in the WNIT. There, they earned their first postseason wins since 2008 with victories over East Carolina and Villanova before being eliminated in the third round.

It truly was a magical season for the Colonials last year, but with a stark jump in performance comes a heightening of expectations for the 2014-15 campaign. GW was picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, the best preseason projection for the program since 2008 and quite the forecast for a team that enters the season having lost three key contributors from last year’s team. Here are some things to look out for this season:

Biggest strength: The Frontcourt

The emergences of both Jonquel Jones and Caira Washington were arguably the brightest spots of GW’s season a year ago. Jones was the only player in the Atlantic 10 to average a double-double on the season, averaging a little less than 15 points and 11 rebounds a game and earning her a Second Team All-Conference selection. Meanwhile, Washington earned Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year honors and a Third Team All-Conference selection for her season in which she averaged 11 points and nine rebounds per game. The duo combined to average 20 rebounds a game, allowing the Colonials to lead the conference in rebounding and rebounding margin.

The two on their own would be enough to warrant the frontcourt as GW’s biggest strength entering the new season, but the addition of 6’5” freshman Kelli Prange makes them even more formidable. Prange scored 11 points and added six rebounds in the team’s lone exhibition against Virginia Union last Sunday. She displayed an extremely polished finish at the rim and also added a jump shooting element that will make this trio of bigs all the more difficult to defend. GW will need to get every ounce of potential they can get from this trio if they expect to live up to their preseason expectations and compete toe-to-toe with Atlantic 10 preseason favorite Dayton, which boasts a talented frontcourt of their own.

Biggest Question Mark: How will the team replace the production of Danni Jackson and Megan Nipe?

The duo of Danni Jackson and Megan Nipe combined for nearly 28 points per game on average last year and were a big reason why GW’s fast-paced offense averaged 76 points a game, second-most in the Atlantic 10. This was all despite the fact that Nipe played the majority of the season on a torn ACL. The two guards were the heart and soul of Jonathan Tsipis’ squad a year ago and their departures leave the Colonials a bit thin at the guard positions.

Chakecia Miller, a 2014 All-Defensive Team honoree, should carry a bigger load this season, both on and off the court. She is expected to fill the leadership role left by Jackson and her effort and guidance should be a benefit to younger guards like Shannon Cranshaw and Alexis Chandler. But after Miller, the guard situation gets murky for GW. Lauren Chase, a former America East Rookie of the Year and transfer from UMBC who sat out all of last season due to a personal medical issue, will likely get a crack at the starting lineup initially alongside Miller. Hannah Schaible will also likely be in the starting lineup on opening night playing a hybrid shooting guard/small forward position and impacting the game on both sides of the ball with her hustle and grit. Both Cranshaw and Chandler should also get extended run in the guard rotation and have the opportunity to play their way into more minutes as the season progresses. The guard situation is extremely fluid at this point and should become clearer once the season begins.

X-Factor: Lauren Chase

She was briefly mentioned above as part of the jigsaw puzzle at the guard position for the Colonials, but Lauren Chase has an opportunity to make an immense impact and provide stability at the point guard position. As was mentioned, she won the 2012 America East Rookie of the Year, averaging 8.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists playing 34 minutes per game in her lone season at UMBC. Coach Tsipis likely won’t lean on Chase to play that many minutes a game for GW, but if she can replicate the production she had at UMBC, that would be a boon for the Colonials and take pressure off of younger guards Cranshaw and Chandler to immediately step up. She will have to keep her turnovers down in order to keep a spot in the starting lineup but if she can take care of the ball and distribute it, especially down low to GW’s talented bigs, she could make the difference between a team that hovers from third to fifth in the conference standings throughout the season and a team that contends for the Atlantic 10 title.

Freshman to Watch: Brianna Cummings

The most impactful freshman will most likely be Kelli Prange, who was mentioned above along with the rest of the strong frontcourt. But another freshman that could make an impact right away is Brianna Cummings. At 5’10”, Cummings brings height and length to the guard position and could use that to earn more minutes as the season progresses. As a senior at Greater Atlanta Christian School, she averaged 23 points, 11 rebounds, and four steals a game, leading all Gwinnett County players and earning Gwinnett Daily Post Player of the Year honors. She was the 25th best player at her position according to ESPN for a reason and while the coaching staff might not want to put a ton of pressure on her in her first collegiate season, it would be remiss of Coach Tsipis not to at least give her some run at a cloudy guard position to see if she can contribute and add versatility right away.

Season Forecast

The preseason Atlantic 10 poll certainly vindicated this team as a force to be reckoned with this season, even with an uncertain situation at the guard positions. It speaks to just how intimidated other Atlantic 10 coaches are of the frontcourt GW boasts heading into the season. The offense should be just as fast-paced as it was last season and with both Jones and Washington having more familiarity in that offense, it has all the makings of a fun season offensively as long as Coach Tsipis can find a solution to settle the guard position. However, there is a reason Dayton is entering the season as the 22nd-ranked team in the country and the unanimous favorite to win the Atlantic 10. The Flyers are the conference’s most complete team and are poised to make a deep run not just into the Atlantic 10 Championship, but into the NCAA Tournament. GW certainly has the frontcourt needed to go toe-to-toe with Dayton, but the knocking the Flyers off their perch will be one tough task, especially without stability in the backcourt. Overall though, expect great things from the Colonials this season. They’re built to win right now, and the best part is they’re just getting started.

Regular Season Prediction: 24 wins, 2nd in the Atlantic 10

Historic Opening Week for George Washington Women’s Basketball (AUDIO)

TIM RIORDAN
WRGW SPORTS DIRECTOR

George Washington Women’s Basketball opened up the 2013-2014 season with two historic wins over the Jackson St. Lady Tigers last Saturday and the California Golden Bears, who are ranked #10 in the country, on Friday.

GW started off the season in style, putting up more then 100 points for the first time since the game against Mt. St. Mary’s on December 17, 2000, defeating the Jackson St. Lady Tigers in decisive fashion, 101-73.  The Colonials scored first and never looked back, leading for the entire game.

While graduate student Megan Nipe led all scorers with 20 points, it was the trio of freshmen who really shined for the Colonials.  Guard Hannah Schaible and forward Caira Washington earned starting roles in the opener from Head Coach Jonathan Tsipis.  Schaible scored 16, nabbed 7 rebounds, and totaled 3 assists, all while playing intensely on both sides of the court on the way to being named player of the game.  Washington scored 13 and had 8 rebounds.  Guard Shannon Cranshaw came off the bench totaling 13 points and a team high 5 assists in 21 minutes.

As the team approached triple digits, tension and excitement grew in the Smith Center.  The Colonials got the ball with 30 seconds left leading 99-73 and Alexis Chandler’s layup pushed the Colonials over 100 points.  Here are seniors Connor Doyle and Tim Riordan on the call for WRGW Sports.

After the game, Associate Head Coach Megan Duffy was excited about the accomplishment, but expressed some improvements needed before going into the California game.  Here is our exclusive post-game interview with Coach Duffy.

George Washington and Megan Nipe protected home court in a stunning 75-73 victory over the #10 California Golden Bears.

Nipe put up a career high 31 points on the way to GW defeating their first ranked team since 2008, when GW beat #10/8 California in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.  Nipe is also the first player to score 30+ points since Cathy Joens netted 32 in February of 2004.

The Golden Bears were lead by juniors Reshanda Gray, 24 points, and Brittany Boyd, 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Nipe and graduate student Danni Jackson, 14 points and 3 assists, were prolific from beyond the arc, combining to go 7-17, and getting the scoring started early in the first half.  Here are juniors Raynell Cooper and Mike Martenak on the call for WRGW Sports.

Cal went on a 7-2 run to end the first half, going into the locker room with a 41-34 lead.  GW, who came out strong to start the half, appeared to be giving the game away with some bad turnovers.

The tide turned quickly out of half time, as a Megan Nipe three pointer was able to tie the game back up at 43 a piece with 16:24 to play.

The lead would change hands five times in the second half, before Jackson’s three-pointer with 3:11 left to play put the Colonials up for good.

Down the stretch, California’s Courtney Range had two crucial offensive fouls called against her, and free throws were able to clinch it for the Colonials.

Once the final buzzer chimed, the “White Out” crowd of 1014 went crazy, celebrating what, potentially, could be the game of the year for this women’s squad.

Assistant Coach Diane Richardson joined Cooper and Martenak after the game for an exclusive interview.

The Colonials put their 2-0 record on the line, going on the road for the first time to face another ranked opponent in DMV rival, #8 Maryland.  Seniors Tim Riordan and Connor Doyle will have the call from College Park.  Tune into this game and all GW basketball games on WRGW Sports – Colonials Radio Central at wrgwsports.com.