Dec. 29, another strong defensive effort and an offensive explosion from senior guard Bianca Boggs secured the 73-57 win for the Tribe (7-4, 0-0 Colonial Athletic Association) over the Colonials (2-10, 0-0 A-10), who remain winless on the road.
The Colonials were the Tribe’s fourth opponent from the A-10 this season, along with Virginia Commonwealth, Davidson and Richmond. The Tribe looked to maintain momentum from the Norfolk State game and enter conference play on a two-game winning streak. On the other hand, the Colonials struggled heading into the game in non-conference action, with just two wins overall.
The College opened the game with its third starting lineup combination of the season, in which senior guard Misha Jones made her first career start. Jones made the most of this opportunity, scoring the first points of the game on two free throws. The Tribe moved the ball well on offense in the opening minutes but did not make its first shot until Boggs hit a floater nearly four minutes into the game. However, its defense started the game well, holding the Colonials scoreless until they tied the game at the seven minute mark of the opening quarter. Both teams combined for 2-13 from the floor in the first five minutes, and the Tribe led 4-2 at the media timeout. After the timeout, redshirt sophomore Harper Birdsong came off the bench and banked in her first three-point attempt against her former team. Birdsong transferred from George Washington after her freshman campaign. Her three gave the College a four-point edge, but the Tribe went scoreless for the next three minutes, allowing the Colonials to close the gap to one point. By the end of the quarter, Boggs was able to rack up seven points, despite three turnovers, and lead the College to a 12-9 advantage.
Similar to the first quarter, the Tribe struck first in the second with freshman guard Eva Hodgson snapping a pass to sophomore center Gabby Rogers for an easy layup. The College came up with two more baskets in the first 2:23 of the second quarter to take a nine-point lead on the strength of an 8-0 scoring run going back to the end of the first quarter. The Colonials were forced to take a timeout and managed to stop the bleeding on a free throw by forward Sarah Overcash that brought the score to 18-10. Nevertheless, the Tribe continued to enjoy a strong start to the second quarter as junior forward Victoria Reynolds and Boggs each drained a three to give the College its first double-digit advantage, 24-11.
Boggs hit another three a couple minutes later to give her 15 points and nine rebounds with over three minutes to play in the half. The Tribe stretched its lead to 16 on a circus shot with the shot clock winding down from Reynolds for her second three-pointer of the afternoon. The College led by as much as 18 in the first half and still maintained a 34-24 lead at the break. Boggs nearly outscored the Colonials in the first half, tallying 19 points. The Tribe entered contest undefeated when leading at halftime.
The second half started inauspiciously for the College, with Reynolds coming out of the game with an injury. Despite the loss of Reynolds, the Tribe started the third quarter well with the first six points, including Hodgson’s first two points of the day. The Colonials finally scored at the 7:45 mark to make it 40-26, in favor of the College. Hodgson responded immediately with a three from the corner and Boggs hit a three from the wing for her first points of the half to reestablish the College’s 18-point advantage.
Hodgson ultimately led the Tribe in the third quarter with 11 points and Boggs earned her double-double. Birdsong also drained two threes in the quarter. The College was in control with just 10 minutes to play, leading 62-42.
The Tribe, once again, struck first in the fourth quarter, with Birdsong and Boggs both making jumpers to push the lead to a game-high 24 points. Head coach Ed Swanson was able to give some reserves significant playing time down the stretch in the blowout, and the College was able secure a 73-57 victory. The Tribe was led by Boggs’ double-double on 26 points and 10 rebounds. Birdsong and Hodgson also broke into double-figures, tallying 16 and 11 points, respectively.
The Colonials will play Memphis Jan. 1 at home, looking to wrap up non-conference play with a victory and end their five-game skid. The College will open CAA play in 2019 with road matchups against Hofstra and Northeastern Jan. 4 and Jan. 6. It will look to extend its two-game winning streak and improve on its sixth-place finish in the CAA last season.