Miller’s heroics propel George Washington past Richmond, 57-54

WASHINGTON – Sophomore Chakecia Miller scored four points in the final 11 seconds and came up with a key steal to give the George Washington women’s basketball team a come-from-behind 57-54 victory over Atlantic 10 rival Richmond on Wednesday evening at the Charles E. Smith Center.

The game remained close throughout, as neither team led by more than six, and GW (10-12, 4-4 A-10) clung to a 53-51 lead in the final two minutes until Richmond guard Rachael Bilney – the A-10’s leading three-point shooter – drained her only triple of the night with 52 seconds left to put the Spiders on top by one, 54-53.

After a Richmond timeout, the Colonials took the ball up the court but were forced to call a timeout of their own, then took their final timeout when senior Danni Jackson could not find an open teammate on the inbounds play. On the next attempt, Bilney intercepted the inbounds pass and was immediately fouled, but she missed the front end of her one-and-one.

GW came up with the rebound, but Bilney poked it away to guard Becca Wann, who again was fouled and also missed her first attempt in the bonus situation. Senior Shi-Heria Shipp grabbed the rebound, split two defenders and sent the ball ahead to Jackson, who found Miller at the top of the key. Miller drove into the lane and hit a layup to put the Colonials back on top, 55-54, with 11 seconds to go.

Richmond (12-12, 2-6 A-10) guard Bria Powell ran the ball up the court, but Miller was there to punch it out to Shipp, who lobbed it ahead back to Miller for the fastbreak layup to seal the thrilling win with two seconds to go, as the Spiders could not get a final shot off.

A back-and-forth first half saw five ties and seven lead changes, but a three-pointer by senior Megan Nipe with eight seconds left in the period gave the Colonials a 32-27 halftime advantage. GW shot 53.8 percent in the opening stanza.

The Spiders came out hot to start the second half and used a 13-2 run to take a 40-36 lead at the 15:25 mark. Richmond maintained its advantage for nearly eight minutes, but back-to-back layups by graduate student Sara Mostafa during a 9-0 GW run put the home team back on top.

The Colonials led, 53-49, with 2:35 to go after a pair of free throws by Shipp, but Kristina King hit a jumper on Richmond’s next possession to cut it to two, and after neither team scored on the next three trips, Bilney sank her three-pointer to set up the wild final seconds.

Shipp and Nipe led the Colonials with a game-high 12 points apiece, and Shipp added nine rebounds. Miller tallied 10 points and five assists, while graduate student Tara Booker pulled down a game-best 10 boards to go with three blocks.

King and Wann paced the Spiders with 11 points apiece. The Colonials limited Bilney to just five points and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc after she scored 47 points on 11-of-15 from long distance in two games against GW last season.

GW won the battle of the boards for the fourth straight game, outrebounding Richmond, 44-37. Despite shooting just 29.4 percent in the second half, the Colonials finished at 40.0 percent from the floor for the game while limiting the Spiders to 36.5 percent, including just 3-of-14 from three-point range.

GW snapped an eight-game skid against Richmond, defeating the Spiders for the first time since 2008.

The Colonials return to action on Sunday, when they host Atlantic 10 newcomer Butler for the first time ever. The 2 p.m. tipoff, which is part of GW’s Homecoming weekend, will be televised on Comcast Sportsnet Plus. It is also GW’s annual Play 4Kay game to increase breast cancer awareness.

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