Women’s basketball team victory in Atlantic 10 Tournament championship over St. Joseph’s secures trip to the NCAA for third time in four seasons.
The George Washington University women’s basketball team captured an automatic bid to the NCAA Basketball Tournament Sunday with a victory over St. Joseph’s in the championship game of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
The Colonials return to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons. Colonials head Coach Jen Rizzotti, who won a national championship as a student-athlete at the University of Connecticut, returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011 when she led the University of Hartford to the America East title.
GW will learn its NCAA Tournament opponent, date and time of its first round match-up on Selection Monday, March 12. The tournament begins on March 16 at campus sites of the Top 16 teams in the tournament.
The road to the A-10 tournament title for GW was paved with a defensive grit. After opening the tournament with a home win against La Salle in the first round by yielding just 49 points, the Colonials defeated George Mason for the third time this season on Friday in a 64-59 win. Ms. Rizzotti then game-planned a masterful plot to thwart top-seeded Dayton, getting revenge for two previous losses to the Flyers this season, with a suffocating defensive that held the flyers to a field goal percentage of less than 33 percent in Saturday’s semifinals.
The A-10 championship game, by comparison, was not close.
Senior Brianna Cummings was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, while juniors Mei-Lyn Bautista and Kelsi Mahoney earned All-Tournament Team honors.
After a first quarter in which GW only briefly trailed, and the teams found themselves deadlocked on every even number after trading baskets to reach 10-10, the Colonials stiffened their defense to gradually turn the game into a rout. A 16-10 GW lead after the first quarter gave way to a 32-24 halftime edge. When the Colonials led 49-37 going into the final 10 minutes, Ms. Rizzotti coached until the final buzzer, with GW holding a 20-pont lead with three minutes left in the game.
Ms. Cummings earned her accolades with a standout championship game performance, with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists to stake a claim as the premier two-way player in the conference. Ms. Mahoney's breakout season keeps rolling after the junior marksman drained 4-of-6 three-pointers en route to her 12 points and four rebounds. Then there was Ms. Bautista, who made it easy for her teammates. The junior point guard was flawless again, dishing seven assists without a turnover. She finished the A-10 Tournament with 26 assists and no turnovers.