RICHMOND, Va. - A three-pointer from Kelsi Mahoney just before the buzzer brought George Washington even with George Mason at the end of the third period, igniting a 7-0 run to give the Colonials the lead for good in a 64-59 quarterfinal victory over the Patriots at the 2018 Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Championship Friday afternoon at the Richmond Coliseum.
Mahoney, who scored all twelve of her points from beyond the arc, was one of three George Washington players in double figures, as Kelli Prange led with fifteen points, while Brianna Cummings added fourteen. Mei-Lyn Bautista dished out seven assists without committing a turnover in 37 minutes of play for the Colonials.
"I'm very happy with the fight our team showed today, perseverance in a game where we didn't particularly play well or pretty," said Colonials head coach Jennifer Rizzotti. "We just had different people step up. It was a great team win."
Neither team led by more than six points as defense dictated the first half
with the Colonials up 29-27 at intermission. George Mason (23-9) opened the second half on an 11-4 run to take a five-point lead, matching their largest advantage, midway through the third period. But George Washington (17-13) fought back to tie the game on the Maloney trey, then made all eight free throws, including four in the final minute, to seal the victory.
While Atlantic 10 Player of The Year Natalie Butler registered her 31st double-double of the season with 27 points and twelve rebounds, the Colonials held Rookie of The Year Nicole Cardano-Hillary to 2-of-11 shooting from the field, scoring just six points on the afternoon. Butler made thirteen of her eighteen shots from the floor, while the rest of the Patriots only shot just 27 percent.
"She (Butler) doesn't just have size, she's got great touch around the basket and she keeps the ball high," Rizzotti said of Butler. "We certainly weren't going to stop her string of double-doubles. So it was just about figuring out how to win, knowing she could be effective. If we really set down, defended, and made plays on offense, we could find a way to win anyway."
The Colonials advance to face top-seeded Dayton, who eliminated Richmond in the first quarterfinal on Friday. George Washington fell twice to the Flyers during the regular season, 66-55 at Dayton in January, and 57-53 back on February 11th.
"They're just a really hard team to match up with, but we're ready for the fight, excited for the challenge, and ready to get going with our preparation," Rizzotti opined.
Dayton and George Washington will tip off in the first Atlantic 10 Championship semifinal at 11:00 am Saturday from Richmond live on CBS Sports Network.