With 1.4 seconds to play and the score tied in overtime, the George Washington women’s basketball team was one foul shot from all but ensuring a defining victory in Coach Jonathan Tsipis’s first season. Better yet, the Colonials had one of the more accurate free throw shooters in the Atlantic 10 at the line against Duquesne, which entered Wednesday morning’s game at Smith Center tied for first in the conference.
But when senior Danni Jackson’s attempt bounced off the rim and forced a second overtime, the Dukes rallied with a decisive run to take the lead for good and hang on, 63-59, to remain unbeaten in the conference and send George Washington to its fourth loss by four points or less.
The Colonials (8-12, 2-4) got team highs of 17 points from both graduate center Sara Mostafa and Jackson, a 75 percent foul shooter who had three assists but committed nine of George Washington’s 25 turnovers. Senior forward Megan Nipe added 10 points, nine rebounds and four assists for the Colonials, who were unable to close after forging an 11-point lead with 12 minutes 9 seconds left in regulation.
“We did all the things that we needed to do to put ourselves in a position to win,” Tsipis said. “I tip my hat to Duquesne. They did some great things in the second overtime, but I don’t think it was by any lack of effort and resolve that our team had. We fought, and that’s what I’m most proud of our team.”
After Mostafa banked in a turnaround jumper with 3:13 left in double overtime for a 56-54 lead, the Dukes (17-3, 6-0) scored six of the next seven points. Wumi Agunbiade (game-high 22 points and 13 rebounds) began the flurry with a putback on an offensive rebound while getting fouled, but the junior forward missed the bonus free throw.
Senior guard Jocelyn Floyd followed by dribbling deep into the lane, converting the layup and drawing a foul. But Floyd missed the bonus attempt, and Jackson got George Washington within 58-57 by making 1 of 2 foul shots.
Graduate guard Vanessa Abel’s jumper moments later expanded the margin to three, and the Dukes made 3 of 4 free throws thereafter to remain tied with 17th-ranked Dayton atop the Atlantic 10.
“The thing that gave me confidence was seeing the good things my teammates and I were doing,” said Mostafa, who made 8 of 14 shots and had three blocks and three steals. “I just thought we had opportunities to win this game. I do feel confident moving forward, but this one hurts really bad.”
The Colonials were able to push the second-best shooting team in conference games to the wire thanks in part to rugged defense, particularly from three-point range. The Dukes had been shooting 37 percent in the Atlantic 10 from that distance but missed 16 of 17 attempts for their lowest percentage of the season.
George Washington also finished ahead in rebounding, 53-44, and limited Duquesne to 30 percent shooting in regulation. But the Dukes, who had been shooting 44.3 percent in the Atlantic 10, sank 6 of 12 field goals combined during the two overtimes to win their sixth in a row.
“I know we’re right there on the cusp,” Tsipis said. “It’s part of this team and part of me as a coach putting ourselves and looking in ourselves to do a little bit more so at the end we can be on that left side of the column.”