Women’s Basketball Takes Down New A-10 Opponent, Loyola Chicago, 61-50 on Senior Day

Image Credit: Greg Fiume

By: Abe Rothstien

Following pregame ceremonies for seven seniors, the Buff and Blue came into the game after dropping their previous two games, flipped the script, and took control in a wire-to-wire victory over Loyola Chicago in a 61-50 romp. 

With the victory on Saturday, along with a Fordham loss, it looks like GW has secured themselves a top-four seed and a first-round bye in the upcoming A-10 tournament in Wilmington. A tournament that saw the team flash the prowess they have been showing this year, with two upset wins. 

Coach Caroline McCombs, currently in her second season at the helm at the Smith Center, has shown her dominance both in the high school recruiting and transfer portals to upgrade the team. Especially on the offensive end after a year with a historically good defense paired with one of the worst offenses in the NCAA. 

Two of these players, seniors Jayla Thornton and Mia Lakstigala, have proved to be essential for the team to once again find its winning ways. Thornton, a transfer who is one of the most decorated players at Howard, has contributed off the bench for Coach McCombs, averaging 6.7 PPG on 37% shooting from beyond the arc. Lakstigala, a transfer from Penn, has become the anchor of the GW offense. She’s having a career-best year averaging 13.8 PPG (39% 3P), to go with 5.9 rebounds. As one of the leaders of the team, she has been excellent on all sides of the ball. Her presence was felt against Loyola Chicago with a career-high six assists for the game to lead both teams in the category. 

The rapport of the team and the chemistry is evident this year. Underclassmen watched their teammates, seven of them in total, be honored in a pregame ceremony, where all seniors were presented with a framed jersey. The players, Sheslaine Laureano, who has been out with an injury, Laskstigala, Thornton, Faith Blethen, Essence Brown, Nya Lok, and the rebounding machine Mayowa Taiwo were honored alongside their families on Saturday. 

“The seniors are like my big sisters and encourage me to be a better person… I appreciate them. I am going to miss them,” said freshman Nya Robertson, who led the team with 25 points. 

The loss of these players, or potentially as Taiwo suggested, the possibility of returning for a graduate season in an interview with WRGW, will leave massive voids to fill. These are not only on the court but also in the locker room.

The growth of young players like Nya Robertson has been imperative for the success of the team, as Robertson had a team-high 25 on 4-7 shooting from three-point land off the bench. Senior Mayowa Taiwo finished with four points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds. Lok, who has recently been inserted into the starting lineup, chipped in with two threes, and Lakstigala had ten points, four rebounds, and a career-high six assists. 

Coach McCombs took some time to talk about the seniors, “[Faith, Mayowa and Essence] believing in me is something I never take for granted… Nya [Lok], Sheslanie who we recruited before we even played a game here.” McCombs continued, “Mia and Jayla, we locked in on them in the transfer portal and with one year of eligibility they made an impact.”

In a complete wire-to-wire victory, GW never looked back after winning the opening tip. Not once did the game feel competitive as the Loyola Chicago Ramblers continued to struggle in their first year in the Atlantic 10 conference, a much higher level of competition, falling to a brutal 1-13 record.

With a win that brings the team to 9-5 in conference play and currently sitting at a third seed heading into Wilmington, the Buff and Blue look to make it double-digit conference wins Wednesday against Davidson. That game will be live on ESPN + and WRGW. 

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