Women's Hoops Downs GMU for Third Time this Season in A-10 Quarters
Colonials to face No. 1 seed Dayton in Saturday's semifinals
RICHMOND, Va. - The old adage 'it is hard to beat the same team three times in one season' certainly rang true in Friday's Atlantic 10 Championship Quarterfinal matchup between the No. 5 seed George Washington and No. 4 seed George Mason.
The third meeting between the local Revolutionary Rivals was every bit as intense and physical as the first two meetings. Seven ties and seven lead changes led to a final margin of just five points, but for the third time this season and 13th consecutive time it was the Colonials reigning supreme over the Patriots. GW's 64-59 win on Friday ensures the team a spot in the Atlantic 10 Championship Semifinals on Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. against No. 1 seed and regular-season champion Dayton.
GW's poise and defensive tenacity helped to erase a five-point deficit at the midway mark of the third quarter. GW trailed 38-33 but two three-pointers over the final 4:43 of the third by junior Kelsi Mahoney was a sign of things to come. Her second triple in that stretch was a buzzer-beater as time expired to send the game to the fourth quarter knotted at 45-45.
Senior Brianna Cummings, who was limited to just 23 minutes in the game due to foul trouble, started the fourth quarter with four consecutive points, part of a stanza-opening 6-0 run that put GW on top, 51-45, with 7:21 to play.
George Mason though, led by A-10 Player of the Year Natalie Butler, would not go quietly. Butler scored seven of her game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Patriots chipped away to get within one possession of the lead on multiple occasions, but GW had an answer every time.
GW was clinging to a two-point lead with just over two minutes to play when Mahoney, off of a clutch dime from junior Mei-Lyn Bautista, buried a three-pointer to push the lead back to five at 58-53. Moments later, Mason answered with a three from A-10 Rookie of the Year Nicole Hillary-Cardano. When GW looked to answer, the Patriots forced a miss and took a timeout. GW's defense, as it has all season long, answered with a denial of their own to put the ball into the hands of senior Camila Tapias at the free throw line, who calmly hit both attempts to keep the Colonials in front.
Later down the stretch, clutch free throws from senior Kelli Prange and Bautista iced the game to send GW into the A-10 Semifinals for the third time in the last four years.
Cummings, who fouled out in the fourth, still was able to finish with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting while Prange earned team-high honors with 15 points, along with five rebounds and a block.
Mahoney sunk four triples for 12 points, as well as two assists and three steals while her classmate Bautista was once again electric as the offense's facilitator, racking up seven assists with zero turnovers, the second straight game she has not given the ball away. She added eight points, three rebounds and a pair of steals.
Dayton advanced to the semifinals following a tough 67-58 win over No. 8 seed Richmond.
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