Women’s Basketball Wins on Senior Day to Avoid A10 Tourney Play-In Game

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

By Liam O’Murchu (@Liam_0__)

Women’s basketball ended their regular season on a high note with a 50-43 win over Loyola Chicago on Saturday afternoon at home.

With the win, the Revolutionaries (13-17, 6-12 A10) extended their winning streak to three and secured a bye in the Atlantic 10 tournament after looking destined to play a pillow fight game all season. Sophomore guard Nya Robertson solidified her case for her inclusion on an All-A10 team with 16 points, three rebounds, an assist and a block in 25 minutes while graduate guard Essence Brown chipped in 14 points, five rebounds and two assists on her Senior Day.

“I’m really proud as we’ve been catching some momentum here, late in February.” GW head coach Caroline McCombs said. “It’s just really important as we head into A10 tournament time.”

Robertson scored the Revs’ first eight points, starting 3-for-3 from the floor, propelling GW to an early 8-4 lead. However, the Fort Worth, Texas native quickly picked up two early fouls, forcing her to the bench at the 5:15 mark of the first quarter. By the first media timeout, the teams were knotted at 12 and at the end of the quarter the Ramblers (14-15, 8-10 A10) were up 17-15.

GW shut down Loyola to start the second quarter, not allowing any points in the first five minutes of the quarter. However, the Revs only managed six points of their own during that stretch and maintained a 21-17 lead at the second quarter media timeout. The teams traded mini-runs and GW’s halftime lead was just 27-26, not to mention the fact that Brown and freshman guard Kamari Sims both had two fouls of their own along with Robertson. Although she didn’t stuff the stat sheet on Saturday, Sims has shown she will be a key member of the team for years to come, rewarding the coaching staff for the increased minutes they’ve given her.

At the half, graduate guard Alyssa Fisher led the Ramblers with nine points while Robertson paced GW with eight points of her own despite only playing five minutes. At the third quarter media timeout, the teams were deadlocked at 34 and GW continued to struggle with foul trouble. Loyola didn’t score for the final five minutes of the third quarter and Robertson woke back up offensively in the third, highlighted by a banked three pointer and a pair of free throws to give her team a 39-34 lead heading into the fourth. At that point she was up to 16 points, her total for the game.

The Ramblers were within three points at the final media timeout but the Revs relied on their stout defense to pull out the victory, forcing Loyola Chicago to miss all but one of their final seven three point attempts and shoot 4-for-16 from the floor in the fourth quarter.

“The key was not letting them score.” McCombs said with a laugh. “I was holding my breath at times because every possession mattered and they were closing the gap at times. It was a small margin and then we needed to come down and score to increase that.”

The defense was outstanding for GW, limiting the Ramblers to 26.2% shooting from the floor and forcing Loyola’s best three players, Fisher, graduate guard Sam Galanopoulos, and senior forward Sitori Tanin to shoot a combined 8-for-40 from the floor. The offense, on the other hand, was less than stellar, as the Revs had 20 turnovers and shot 32.7% from the field as they struggled to find consistency while they were forced into different rotations due to foul trouble.

Before the game, there was a ceremony honoring the eight graduating players from the program, Maren Durant, Nya Lok, Taylor Webster, Asjah Inniss, Essence Brown, Faith Blethen, Madison Buford, and Mayowa Taiwo. The most accomplished of the bunch is undoubtedly Taiwo, who sits third in all-time rebounds and first in all-time appearances in program history. However, McCombs made sure to relay the message that all of the players honored will be sorely missed in Foggy Bottom.

“We had Mayowa, Faith and Essence that chose to stay at GW and have meant so much, not just to the women’s basketball program, but the university as a whole. They love this place.” McCombs said.

After hovering around 13th place in the A10 for much of the conference season, GW has shot up to 10th in the last week behind three crucial wins and Davidson’s forfeiture of their season. The Wildcats (18-8, 8-7 A10) have six players who’ve suffered ACL injuries this year and didn’t play three of the last four games of the season before announcing on Friday they wouldn’t be participating in the A10 tournament.

The sudden change in seeding means GW will not play on Wednesday in the pillow fight, as was expected, instead slotting into the 10th seed in the 14-team format that resembles the 2022 edition of the tournament.

GW will play #7 seed St. Louis on Thursday at 5 PM in Henrico, Virginia for a chance to take on VCU the following day. The Revs will look to win a conference tournament game for the third consecutive year under McCombs against a team they lost 66-56 to at home earlier this year. The game can be streamed on ESPN+ and WRGW.

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