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11/23/2022 11:20 am  #1

GW at the UNLV Thanksgiving Challenge Thread

This weekend, starting on Friday November 25, WBB travels west for the UNLV Thanksgiving Challenge. This tournament comprises eight teams from different NCAA Division I conferences competing in two brackets.  At first glance, the field may not look too impressive, but a closer look reveals that last season three of the teams won their respective conference championships and received automatic bids to the NCAAs. A fourth went to the WNIT. Two teams come in undefeated and four others come in with only one loss. GW and UC San Diego come into play with two losses. Each team will play 3 games in 3 days, so in addition to the strong field, endurance and attrition could factor into the final outcome.

In the first bracket, GW joins the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), the tournament host, the University of Albany, and East Tennessee State University (ETSU). GW is matched with ETSU in the first round and UNLV faces off against Albany.

UNLV Lady Rebels play in the Mountain West Conference. Last year UNLV finished 26-6 (15-3) and gained an automatic bid to the NCAAs, where they lost to a no. 4 seed Arizona in the first round. They enter the tournament at 4-0, averaging 84.3 points game and defeating opponents by an average margin of 28.8 points. They are picked to finish 1st again this year in their conference.

University of Albany (SUNY) plays in the American East Conference. The Great Danes ended at 23-9 (13-5) last year, also winning their conference championship and gaining the automatic bid to the NCCAs. They were beaten by no. 1 seed Louisville at the Wichita Region. They come into the tournament at 3-1, and are favored to repeat as American East champions this year.

The ETSU Buccaneers hail from the Southern Conference where they logged a 6-22 (-5-9) record, good for 7th place in the eight team conference. ETSU, who has come out of the gates quickly at 4-1, including an opening day victory over Saint Bonaventure, is projected to finish in 6th place this season.

GW competes in the Atlantic 10 (A10) Conference, and finished last year at 13-18 (4-11). That was good for a 12th place finish among 14 teams. GW is 3-2 so far this season and picked to finish 11th in the conference.

The second bracket includes the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters, Stetson Hatters, UC San Diego Tritons, and Illinois State Redbirds. Louisiana Tech takes on Stetson in the opening round, while UCSD meets Illinois State.

Louisiana Tech competes in Conference USA (CUSA). In 2021-2022 their overall record was 21-11 (11-7)-- good for a second place finish in the conference and a WNIT bid. They lost to Houston in the first round in a close game. This year, they are 3-0 and picked to place 2nd in their conference.

Stetson is part of the ASUN Conference. The Hatters came in at 20-12 (11-5) to claim 3rd place in the East Division of the conference in 2021-2022. They are 3-1 so far this year, and are projected for a 2nd place finish in the East Division.

UC San Diego plays in the Big West Conference. With an overall record of 13-14 (10-8), the Tritons took 5th place in the 11 team conference last season. They come into the tournament at 1-2 so far, and are predicted to finish 4th this year.

Illinois State competes in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). Last season’s 19-13 (12-6) record propelled the Redbirds to an automatic NCCA bid, where the played and lost to no. 2 seed Iowa in Greensboro. Their 3-0 start this season already includes victories over Dayton and Wisconsin, and this season, they are picked to finish 2nd in the 12 team conference.

Game 1 – GW versus East Tennessee State University (ETSU): It looks like GW got a good draw for their first round opponent, but we can’t afford to look past the Buccaneers. Regardless of what happens in this game, our next opponent will be an experienced team that made it to the NCAAs last year.

ETSU’s offense got a major upgrade in Temple graduate transfer Jiselle Thomas. Much like Lakstigala for GW, Thomas has become the Bucs’ offensive leader (18 ppg and 5 rpg). Also returning this year is 6’3” center Jakhya Davis, who led the team in rebounding and blocked shots last year. The X-factor for ETSU is Pepperdine transfer Jayla Rufus-Milner, a 5’10” guard who currently leads the team in rebounding at 7.6 rpg, including 25 offensive rebounds in her first 5 games.

On paper GW appears to have a more balanced offense and more depth, but that’s only if our players are available. In the likely event this turns into a defensive battle, our patience on offense will be tested and having Gingras back would be a big plus. In the two games she’s played in, she has been a steadying factor and has not turned over the ball. We just need to keep our focus and stay in control, especially when we get behind. In the last game, we gave up too many opportunities to overtake CSUF with careless TOs and questionable shots. With three games on consecutive days, we need as many players suited up as possible. Hopefully Lok can play, but it would be great to see Engel and Laureano out there as well this weekend.

At this time, there’s no indication that any tournament games will be broadcast or available via livestream. If that’s the case, this weekend will be a bummer, but it’s early yet, so we’ll see.

Last edited by xAC (11/24/2022 9:40 am)


11/25/2022 6:14 pm  #2

Re: GW at the UNLV Thanksgiving Challenge Thread

GW beats ETSU 78-58
After running out to a 15-2 lead, GW let the Bucs get to within 5 points in the 3rd, but rallied to lead by 18 heading into the final quarter. From there we coasted to a big W. Lakstigala (19 pts) and Brown (a career high 18 pts) had huge games, and Robertson (12 pts) and Thornton (14 pts) finished in double figures. For the game, GW shot a robust 50% from the field and finished 15-25 (60%) from beyond the arc. This is the most efficient offensive game we’ve had in recent memory. Late in the game, Loving scored her first points as a Colonial and Engel played her first minutes of the year. You’d have to say that things are looking up for GW WWB.

UNLV beats Albany 78-55
In the first game, UNLV broke out to a big lead and maintained throughout the rest of the game. They dominated Albany with their quickness, getting offensive rebounds and the majority of 50/50 loose balls to get more easy shots. Albany, who seemed content to dribble too much, didn’t get as many good looks and took too many quick shots. For UNLV, maintain the lead gave their starters a chance to rest in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Obiazor was huge for UNLV on the inside, scoring a game high 19 pts to go with 12 rebounds (7 offensive) in just 25 minutes of play.

Tomorrow, GW will meet UNLV, the tournament host, in the semis at 3:00 PM (ET). This is a really quick and athletic team that scores easily and for GW to be competitive, we have to have another game like today. A tough opponent for sure, but the good news is that UNLV is streaming their games and you should be able to it catch from this link:

Last edited by xAC (11/25/2022 6:31 pm)

     Thread Starter

11/26/2022 1:26 pm  #3

Re: GW at the UNLV Thanksgiving Challenge Thread

It's so silly that UNLV is only streaming their games during this tournament and none others. I get it but I think it's really dumb. Hopefully GW can beat them today as a form of revenge


11/26/2022 3:12 pm  #4

Re: GW at the UNLV Thanksgiving Challenge Thread

And now the live stream isn't working... here is a radio broadcast for those interested:

New link for the live stream:

Last edited by gwstudent2024 (11/26/2022 3:18 pm)


11/26/2022 7:47 pm  #5

Re: GW at the UNLV Thanksgiving Challenge Thread

GW loses to UNLV 73-63.

It was a rough 1st quarter, especially with the internet out on UNLV campus.  Noticeably, Robertson was MIA, and I didn’t see her on the bench. Internet and GW recovered, and after making only 4-14 shots in the first period and letting UNLV get to the FT line 10 times, GW trailed 17-11. GW started the 2nd quarter slowly and trailed by as many as 14, but they got hot, hitting on 5-7 three pointers to keep close and ending the half behind by 3 (37-34). The story of the day continued to be fouls. UNLV got 30 FTs to 13 for GW. Credit the Rebels quickness for a lot of that. We just fouled too many times after getting beat by quicker opponents. Then we just made some bad plays at the end of the game when we could have closed the gap.

UNLV is really good team and GW played extremely well in spurts. We still have a big issue with our interior defense-- UNLV’s two bigs combined for 42 pts and 20 boards on 15-24 shooting. We don’t have the height or bulk to contend with good post players. Also at times, our guards dribble too much and force up bad shots. When we get a good shot, we end up playing well. Although Thornton had 11 pts, she also had 4 TOs, and Innis went 0-8 from the field. Both could have been more productive with less dribbling and better shot selection. When we have to force a shot up, bad things happen. Brown continues to excel. She had a team-high 15 pts on 7-9 shooting along with 7 rebs. Lakstigala finished with 11 pts (her seventh consecutive double figure game). Taiwo had a subpar outing, but was in foul trouble from the start and fouled out with 5 minutes left in the game. With starters in foul trouble, Blethen (7 pts and 6 rebs), Lok (5 pts), and Engel (7 pts) stepped up.

The offensive confidence of the team is building with each game and it’s great to see Engel (who looks in great shape) get back out on to the floor. We need our full complement of players so hopefully Gingras, Laureano (and now Robertson) aren’t out much longer.

Tomorrow – The battle for 3rd Place in the UNLV Tournament Challenge

GW will take on the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters at 4:30 PM (ET). After beating Stetson in the opener, Tech (4-2) was defeated by Illinois State 70-53 in the semifinals of the second bracket. It would be great to go home with two wins over the weekend, but it’ll be two leg-weary teams battling it out for that distinction. After the game, a welcome respite.

No indication of broadcast or livestream at this point.

Last edited by xAC (11/26/2022 10:25 pm)

     Thread Starter

11/27/2022 6:27 pm  #6

Re: GW at the UNLV Thanksgiving Challenge Thread

GW loses to Louisiana Tech 71-52

After a slow first five minutes, we got back on track with a couple of 3’s from Thornton and buckets from Brown and Lakstigala to close the 1st quarter out tied at 14. After running out to a nine point lead in the second quarter, we went cold in the last 5 minutes and settled for a 28-28 tie going into halftime. We had a letdown at the start of the 3rd quarter and shots didn’t drop. Our defense seemed to let us down too, and went into the final period 9 points down. Things didn’t get better in the 4th quarter and we just couldn’t put any runs together. Tech dominated the second half and built up a lead we could not overcome.

Besides Lakstigala, who had another stellar performance (19 pts and 10 rebs), no one really stepped up today. If fatigue was a factor, the subs should have gotten more minutes. I think Lok has been playing well and deserves more than 11 minutes. For the second straight game, we put our opponent on the FT line too many times—they were 19-24 (we were 10-13). Gingras did get in for 5 minutes and Engel for 11 minutes, but I expect to see these numbers increase moving forward. Robertson didn’t play today, so if anyone has an update on her, please let us know.

In summary, we finish 1-2 in the UNLV Tournament Classic, and return home at .500 (4-4). Friday (December 2) we host Ohio University at the Smith Center. Hopefully a few days rest and some home cooking will re-energize the team.

     Thread Starter

11/27/2022 7:26 pm  #7

Re: GW at the UNLV Thanksgiving Challenge Thread

Agree with others that it was a bad look for UNLV to host the tournament and then only stream their games.

In WBB's four wins this season, they have had 17 (UMES), 15 (Howard), 10 (American), and 14 (ETSU) assists. The momentum was certainly not on our side late against American and that could have turned into a loss - thankfully Mia had made that 3 in the final minute.
In WBB's four losses this season, they have had 6 (Virginia), 10 (Cal St. Fullerton), 6 (UNLV), and 7 (Louisiana Tech) assists.

It's very clear that there is a lot more offensive talent on the squad this year (we entered today 21st nationally in 3P%) but from looking at the box scores this weekend (and watching the team in previous games) we have been making shots despite no visible offensive flow. That can lead to long lulls without scoring when those unassisted shots aren't falling. Imagine what our shooting percentages would look like if we could assist on more of our baskets.

The question moving forward is who is going to be the PG of the team. Right now there is no one who has emerged as a person that can set others up on offense. McCombs had said that Lakstigala, Inniss, Gingras, and Robertson all had the potential to do so in the offseason but Mia is better off the ball so she can focus on scoring, Asjah is more of a "glue" player on the team that has the feel as more of a wing, Aurea isn't a big enough offensive threat to get major minutes, and Nya thus far has been moving the ball within the flow of the offense rather than set others up as a pure PG. It hasn't helped that Nya and Aurea have been a bit in and out of the lineup thus far.

Despite all of that, I think 1-2 was somewhat expected although I was hoping deep down we would go 2-1. UNLV is very good and Louisiana Tech has historically been one of the best mid-major teams in the country on the WBB side. I'm sure we will lock down more on defense as we get closer to conference play, and that we will outperform that 11th place projection. To take it to the next level though we need to do a better job playing cohesively. We should probably aim to get the turnovers down closer to 12 than the 15 we have been averaging lately.


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