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1/20/2023 11:46 am  #1

GW versus Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Thread

Next up:                 Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Rams
Time:                      January 22, 2023; 12 PM
Venue:                    Smith Center; Washington DC
2021-22 Record:    15-11 overall; 9-5 in A10
2023 Projection:    5th
Current Record:    5-12   
   OOC Record:      
   A10 Record:        
Common OOC:      Howard (Loss)
Broadcast:             NBC Sports Washington/ESPN+ 

The VCU Rams visit the Smith Center on Sunday to take on the Colonials in the only regular season matchup between the teams. VCU was projected to come in 5th in the A10 this year but struggled through their OOC schedule finishing with just a 3-9 record, with 2 of their 3 wins coming against Wisconsin and Seton Hall. After early A10 losses to St. Louis and Fordham, the Rams reeled off consecutive wins against Richmond and George Mason, before falling in their last outing to Davidson 71-60 on their home floor. In their only OOC contest with a common GW opponent, VCU lost to Howard University 79-67.

VCU allows more points than they have scored. They average 59 ppg on 38.6% shooting but manage only 27.2% from 3-point range. Their opponents average 62.8 ppg while shooting 41% from the field. VCU is led by preseason 1st Team All-A10 selection Sarah Te-Biasu, the only Ram to start every game this season. She is averaging 16.4 ppg after finishing with 30 points against Davidson in her last game. The Rams find their strength in numbers. Eleven other players have started games for VCU, led by Mary-Anna Asare (7.8 ppg and 4.1 rpg) and 6’2” Chloe Bloom, the team’s leading rebounder at 4.6 rpg. Besides Te-Biasu, four other players have been the leading scorer in their games, with Asare and Bloom having done so on multiple occasions.
GW lost two competitive contests to VCU last year, once in the regular season and to close out our season in the quarterfinals of the A10 tourney.
About the game:
VCU lacks the overall talent of the top tier A10 teams, but they have a deep bench and an exceptional scorer in Te-Biasu. The Rams look to grind it out and take teams out of their offensive rhythms, try to keep it close behind the consistent scoring of their best player, and rely on key bench players to deliver timely shots. Te-Biasu will get her points, but we can’t let their other players beat us.
GW has to play better defense than in the last two games and make the Rams work for every basket. The transition defense has to limit easy buckets and open looks. Our offense has to regain their swagger and our bench has to step up. We cannot let the offense devolve and lead to quick shots and ill-advised forays into the paint. We have to spread the defense to get Taiwo more maneuvering room inside and Lakstigala and Thornton more open 3-point looks. Brown, Lok, and Innis have to make good decisions on their drives and have to finish with a score or a clean dish. Robertson can make her own offense, but she has to be more efficient. In our last two losses, we have shot just 32.4% and 35.8% from the field. Those numbers have to get better.
A victory would take the sting out of last year’s season closing defeat in the A10 tournament quarterfinals, but more importantly, this game is about trying to re-establish our offensive and defensive identities and get back to a winning mindset.  

Last edited by xAC (1/20/2023 2:13 pm)


1/22/2023 2:32 pm  #2

Re: GW versus Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Thread

GW survives a VCU rally to win 69-61.
A shaky start staked VCU to an early 6-0 lead, GW called a quick timeout. GW came out of the timeout with more composure, and behind 9 points from Robertson, took the lead at the end of the 1st quarter 19-14. The Colonials managed to hold Te-Biasu scoreless in the period, but the Rams front court had their way inside with 12 points inside the paint. Stout defense led to several transition baskets for GW as they raced to a 39-21 halftime lead, fueled by 7-12 shooting from beyond the arc. At the break, Robertson led all scorers with 12 points, followed closely by Lakstigala’s 11 points. VCU came out fast after the break to cut the lead to 9 points at the official timeout. They were aided by some questionable shots by GW, who only managed to make 2 of 9 shots to this point. Our erratic defense allowed the Rams to score 21 points in the 3rd quarter and cut the lead down to 53-42 by the end of the period. Further defensive lapses by GW let VCU cut the lead to 5 points and forced a GW timeout with 4:41 left in the game. VCU closed to within 2 points, but clutch baskets by Robertson and Brown helped GW avoid an epic collapse. Lakstigala finished with 21 points, followed by Robertson’s 16 and Taiwo’s 13.
There are pluses and minuses from today’s game. On the plus side--GW shot 47.3% from the field and are now 8-0 when we shoot above 40%; Robertson was very efficient today, scoring her 16 points on just 9 attempts; and Taiwo had room to maneuver and finished 6-6 from the field. On the negative side of the ledger-- the Rams highlighted our vulnerabilities against taller and stronger front courts, grabbing 19 offensive rebounds and holding Taiwo to just 2 defensive boards; our defense was inconsistent, especially in rotating to help on the inside, resulting in 32 points in the paint for VCU; our bench was ineffective. Outside of Robertson, there was little production from anyone else.
Despite blowing a big lead, this was an important win for GW. Our composure at the very end of the game was critical and our best players stepped up. Next up is our first ever game against Loyola of Chicago. Nice to go into the Windy City with a win behind us.

     Thread Starter

1/22/2023 5:33 pm  #3

Re: GW versus Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Thread

Nice to get back on the winning side of things, especially since the game was at home. I think this team needed to be back at Smitty after two tough performances on the road (why does it feel like this team is playing virtually no home games in conference?).

McCombs did a good job calling that early timeout. I personally feel that if you're down by more than two possessions before taking a timeout that early in the game you've already waited too long. The team seemed to play with a bit more energy after that - especially defensively.

Most teams have bigger frontlines than us but generally WBB holds their own in the rebounding battle. It seems like of late other teams have had a lot more second chance opportunities. I do wonder what will happen after Mayowa is out of eligibility because her rebounding has single-handedly won us some games. Hopefully a taller frontcourt will help offset that loss in the coming seasons. The only reason VCU even got to 21 points in the first half was because of their rebounding.

It was very much a tale of two halves for the offense. We entered halftime with 10 assists. It helped that shots were falling, but the team was moving the ball so much better in the halfcourt. Instead of watching the second half to see what lost us the lead, the team should re-watch the second quarter performance which was easily the team's best second quarter of the season. Unfortunately in the third quarter the team reverted to its bad habits of playing in isolation and we finished the second half with just three assists. Still, finishing each quarter with more than 10 points is a step in the right direction.

Towards the end of the game, we were playing not to lose. I will never understand why college teams wait until 10 seconds before they start running anything at the end of games. I get the possibility of turning the ball over, but more often than not the last 4 minutes of games are just the best offensive weapon taking an isolation shot in the midrange instead of moving the ball and getting a good shot - what got them the lead. If that shot doesn't fall, it's not surprising to see teams chip away at a lead.

Also the team needs to continue to work on handling the ball against pressure - I think this was the third game where we were up narrowly late and we turned the ball over at a critical moment in the game. 10 second violations can be avoided. Perhaps a timeout needed to be called there.

Overall though it was good to see Mia and Nya get it going early and often. Asjah and Mayowa had key baskets down low as well. Faith took no shots? The team is going to need more bench production than just Robertson moving forward. Lok was in foul trouble so that was understandable, but need a lift from others. Jayla's playing time feels very random. The Loyola game is winnable, and hopefully Mia has a good game in a return back home.


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