WASHINGTON – “Staying the course.” Both Coach Caroline McCombs and star forward Mayowa Taiwo used that phrase to describe the mentality behind their recent four game winning streak following an 0-8 start to conference play.
George Washington (11-14, 4-9 A-10) edged out a 65-57 victory against George Mason (8-16, 2-10 A-10) in the most recent iteration of the Revolutionary Rivalry on Wednesday evening at the Smith Center in Foggy Bottom. Taiwo led the way for GW, scoring 18 points, hauling in 11 offensive rebounds (17 total), and anchoring the defense with 4 steals and her ever-imposing post presence.
Speaking on her performance, Taiwo said, “I just had to keep an offensive mindset, keep attacking the defense. It was a frustrating game with calls and physicality but my teammates kept encouraging me and I kept attacking the basket.”
GW utilized excellent ball movement to create open looks from three, with guard Sheslanie Laureano leading the charge from deep. Laureano shot 3-7 from behind the arc, with 12 total points on the night. Guards Kyara Frames and Maxine Engel rounded out the offensive attack with 8 points each.
McCombs orchestrated another one of her signature defensive masterclasses, with GW out rebounding Mason 43-24, scoring 14 points off turnovers, and limiting Mason’s leading scorer Amaya Scott (16.1 ppg) to only 8 points. GW’s hustle also led to numerous jump balls, charges, and shot clock violations, including a key Mason offensive foul forced by Engel with 4:21 left in the 4th quarter.
Reflecting on her team’s recent success, McCombs pinpointed an exact moment where she believes GW’s season began to turn around:
“It was actually playing against George Mason at their place. It was about five minutes left in the second quarter, I think I called a timeout, and from there going into the half I think we really turned the corner. The things that were said, the belief that the team had, just really understanding that we have to be a defensive team. We were down 19, we came back, we did not win the game but we fought and made a commitment to just be that defensive team and stay the course.”
On the other side, Jameson Taylor stood out for the Patriots with 20 points, including 5-11 from three. With 5:16 left in the 3rd quarter, Mason was down by 14 points, trailing 29-43. They were able to fight back, hitting quick transition three’s to cut the deficit, keeping it a two possession game for most of the remainder of the game. They were unable to complete the comeback, falling just short.
GW now finds themselves sitting in 11th place in the Atlantic 10. With three games remaining, they will look to climb up to at least 10th in order to avoid the first round of the A-10 tournament. The Colonials next take the floor on Sunday, Feb. 20 at 2:00 PM in Philadelphia against St. Joseph’s (9-15, 5-7 A-10). St. Joes are one game ahead of GW in the standings, making this matchup critical for end of year seeding.