Nationally-Recognized, Quality Local Journalism..

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to the Mountain State’s Trusted News Source.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

It only took a handful of minutes stretched out over a couple of quarters for Capital to put nearly seven years of history to bed.

The Cougars (7-2) outscored visiting George Washington 36-16 over the second and third periods, turning an early five-point deficit into a 17-point lead and cruised to a 64-43 win over the crosstown rival Patriots.

It marked Capital’s first win in the series since Feb. 25, 2015 and strengthened the Cougars’ potential seeding prospects in Class AAAA Region 3 Section 1.

“It meant a lot,” Capital coach Michael Cunningham admitted. “[GW] Coach [Jamie] LaMaster, he keeps a good team up there. He’s been kicking my butt for the last four or five years since I got the job, this was the first time I was able to beat him. It feels real good, but it’s the players, man. They played big.”

A couple of them in particular.

Senior guards Natalyia Sayles and Talayah Boxley, both four-year starters, turned in double-doubles. Sayles finished with a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds with Boxley adding 17 points, 12 boards and five steals.

Sayles scored 10 of her points during a game-deciding third quarter in which the Cougars forced more turnovers (10) than GW got off shots (eight). The Cougars’ ball pressure, which pestered GW all evening, roared coming out of the break as the Patriots (3-6) watched a five-point halftime deficit (31-26) turn into a 48-31 chasm heading into the fourth.

With four seniors and three juniors comprising the first seven in Capital’s rotation, it was all too much for a George Washington team — which starts two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman — to handle.

“We’re just so inconsistent,” LaMaster lamented. “We came out in the second half and made multiple mistakes, the fatigue started setting in, they hit some shots, they got some energy going. Respectfully, we’ve had a lot of success against Capital in the past and they got us now. Congratulations to them. That’s just how it’s cycling right now.”

The Patriots made a run to the state semifinals last year but lost three starters in point guard Vivian Ho, forward Mary Lyle Smith and guard Kalissa Lacy, the 2020 Mary Ostrowski Award winner. On Tuesday, GW came out hot and built a 15-10 lead before a three-point play from Kyra Brown narrowed it to 15-13 to close the first quarter.

But Brown’s points only foreshadowed the wave that would come as Capital went on a 13-2 run to start the second period to move ahead by as many as nine. That lead became 10 on a Sayles free throw before a 7-2 closing burst from GW made the score 31-26 at the break.

That’s when the dam burst as Capital turned defense into offense, using steals to create easy layups in transition. Brown added nine points to the cause and the Cougars had 13 steals as a team, forcing 19 turnovers along the way. Alaira Evans scored 14 points and snared 14 rebounds for GW, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

“We really wanted this,” Sayles said. “I wanted this, so I had to pick my team up because I knew we were down. We just did it.

“We had to get stop after stop and if we did that, we were going to win.”

Ryan Pritt covers WVU and prep sports. Reach him at 304-348-7948, Follow @RPritt on Twitter.