GW Women's Basketball Drops Close One to #17 South Florida
Cummings goes off for career-high 23 points but Bulls hold off furious rally down the stretch
WASHINGTON - Looking to make it a winning home stand after alternating wins against Georgetown and Wisconsin between defeats at the hands of Vanderbilt and Syracuse, the George Washington women's basketball team welcomed nationally-ranked #17 South Florida on Saturday in the finale of a five-game home stand.
Despite playing without senior Kelli Prange (concussion), GW kept it close throughout before ultimately falling, 83-78, to the high-powered Bulls.
"We knew South Florida was going to be really good," said head coach Jennifer Rizzotti. "There is a lot of things I can certainly be happy about from today's game. I thought we got a lot better offensively. We found the mismatches, we were patient, we took care of the ball and we made a lot of shots. I was just disappointed that we weren't tougher and more determined on defense."
The lead traded hands early and was tied often in the first stanza, before South Florida assumed a 24-17 edge after the first quarter of play. The Bulls then maintained the seven point advantage at the intermission, 42-35, after a deadlocked second quarter. The Colonials battled throughout and every time the South Florida lead crept higher -- to 10 points at its largest -- GW hung tough and traded blows but couldn't get enough stops on the defensive end.
GW's potent offense connected a clips of .491 from the field (28-of-57), .591 from behind the three-point line line (13-of-22), both season-best marks, and .900 from the charity stripe (9-of-10) while amassing a whopping 22 assists on 28 field goals against just six turnovers. However, the Bulls' tandem of Kitija Laksa (27 points, 5-of-12 three-pointers) and Maria Jespersen (25 points, 13 rebounds) combined to shoot 19-of-32 from the field to keep the Colonials at bay.
Senior Brianna Cummings paced GW with a career-high 23 points, and the sharp-shooting reserves Kelsi Mahoney (12 points, 4-of-6 3pt. fg) and Lexus Levy (career-high 12 points, 4-of-8 3pt. fg) ensured that the Bulls, who were dominant in the month of November having outscored their opposition by an average of 21 points per game, wouldn't run away with this one.
In a point guard battle that saw two of the nation's best distributors lock horns, Mei-Lyn Bautista recorded a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio after entering play ranked seventh in the nation in that category, while South Florida's Laia Flores lived up to her side of the billing with an unblemished six assists with nary a miscue after coming to GW ranked 12th in the country in helpers per turnover.
South Florida got a few too many good looks at point blank range as they recorded a 36-20 advantage in points in the play to counteract GW's superior bench production, even as the home team played down a person without Prange.
"Overall it is a step forward for us," said Rizzotti. "We are trying to measure ourselves against the best which is why we are playing teams like South Florida so we clearly need to continue to work hard to get better."
The Colonials now head to Georgia for a road contest at Mercer, in a homecoming of sorts for Cummings who hails from Lawrenceville in the Peach State. GW follows that game with another match-up against a ranked foe at Maryland on Friday night before taking a break for Finals and returning to action at home against American on Saturday, December 17th at 2pm.
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