RICHMOND, Va. - The George Washington Colonials survived a barrage of Duquesne three-pointers, then played championship defense, holding the Dukes to five percent shooting in the fourth period to capture their second straight Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Championship with a 63-60 victory Sunday afternoon at the Richmond Coliseum.
Guard Hannah Schaible kept George Washington (26-6) alive during the heart of the game, going 9-for-12 from the free throw line, leading the Colonials with 17 points, while Brianna Cummings came alive with a fifteen-point performance.
"We felt like if we could keep the game close near the end, we would have a little more depth", noted George Washington head coach Jonathan Tsipis. "We talked all week that it would come down to defense and rebounding. I'm so excited for our kids. This year's team had to go through more bumps in the road, but they found their way."
The Colonials' defensive effort in the fourth period sealed the championship, holding Duquesne to just five points, led by Lauren Chase, who held Atlantic 10 Co-Player of The Year April Robinson to eight points on 3-of-16 shooting on the day. The inside length of Jonquel Jones (ten points, fifteen rebounds) and Championship Most Outstanding Player Caira Washington (nine points, twelve rebounds) forced Duquesne to alter shot attempts inside as their deficit grew to as many as six.
"We focused on ourselves, our energy, and our communication, making sure our demeanor was positive," Washington said, explaining the Colonials' mentality in the fourth period. "We have watched so much film, making sure we understood how to contest shots, and not foul."
"They allowed us to shoot the three early, and we took it, but when they really guarded, we go one for nineteen, and it ends up 63-60," said Duquesne head coach Dan Burt. "As a team, we're in a circumstance where the people who play the majority of our minutes, we have one or two players who drive the ball. We rely on the three."
Joining Washigton on the All-Championship team was George Washington's Schaible and Jones, along with Duquesne Deva'Nyar Workman and Kadri-Ann Lass.
After making eleven three-pointers in the first three periods, including an April Robinson trey at the buzzer to end the third period with a 55-52 lead, the Dukes missed all seven three-point attempts in the final stanza, making just one of nineteen field goal tries down the stretch.
Workman led Duquesne with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Angela Staffileno had eleven points, and Lass, who performed admirably most of the game defending Jones, added ten.
The win earns the Colonials their sixth Atlantic 10 Women's Championship title, while the Dukes were playing in their first ever title game.
George Washington earns the Atlantic 10's automatic berth into the 2016 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship with the victory. The full field of 64 will be announced on Monday, March 14.