GW's Lilly Ash fights for a rebound with Bridgeport's Bailey Campbell (right), Shaie Tomasik (left) and Michaela Antill (rear).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- George Washington hung its first skin on the wall of the new year and it couldn't have come at a better time.Junior point guard Alanna Mobayed had her best game of the season, turning in 19 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and five steals to propel the Class AAA Patriots past Class AA Bridgeport 55-36 Saturday afternoon. A crowd of about 120 attended the matchup of preseason state-ranked girls high school basketball teams at GW High School.Mobayed, though, was more impressed with GW's defense, which stymied the Indians in the second half. The No. 9 Patriots (2-3) forced 28 turnovers, most of those coming off 13 steals. Fourth-ranked Bridgeport (3-3), the defending AA state champion, only trailed by three points (25-22) at halftime but tallied only 14 the rest of the way."We have this thing called the under-40 club,'' said Mobayed. "So we picked up our defense and wanted to keep them under 40 [points].
"It's more of a motivation thing to get our team to play better defense. We've been on the losing side and we really wanted to be on the winning side for once. Back on the road to a winning streak.''GW came out in a full-court press to start the third quarter and scored 12 straight points to take a commanding 37-22 advantage from which Bridgeport would never recover.Mobayed and junior swingman Maria Romeo were the catalysts during the surge, netting six points apiece and causing havoc on defense. Romeo finished with 15 points, four boards and four steals.Bridgeport pulled within nine points (37-28) on freshman forward Quinn Stalnaker's layup at the three-minute mark, but the Patriots scored six straight, including four from Mobayed on a putback and layup, to restore the 15-point edge (43-28) with under two minutes to go in the third and the rout was on."We were anxious to play,'' said GW coach Jamie LaMaster, whose team last played Dec. 21 and only had two practices over the Christmas break. "I was a little worried coming in a little rough."I think some of that showed in the first half, but once we settled down in the second half and made a few adjustments at halftime, I liked the way it turned out for sure.''LaMaster received a belated Christmas gift when senior post Kelli Jo Harrison, a AAA third-team all-state selection last season after averaging 17.1 points and 9.5 rebounds, was cleared to begin practicing on New Year's Eve, six months after a knee injury. Harrison has to get in 14 practices before she is eligible to play in a game."It's just going to take time with some younger faces,'' said LaMaster, who was also replacing three starters this season. "Players have to understand their roles, but more importantly accept those roles for us to be successful. I think we're starting to do a little bit of that.''Sophomore forward Hope Chalfant led Bridgeport with 16 points. The Indians are adjusting to life without Miki Glenn, who graduated after being named state player of the year last season."I'm going to give it more to Jamie and his guys,'' said Bridgeport coach Dave Marshall, who has nine freshmen among his 14 players. "I thought his energy was way better than ours. It got us on our heels and our decision-making became real bad.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.