Men’s Basketball Writer
PHILADELPHIA – The George Washington Colonials fell to the La Salle Explorers amidst a barrage of three-pointers for the second time this season, this time losing 84-70 at the Tom Gola Arena on Wednesday night.
GW allowed La Salle to hit 11 three-pointers in their first meeting on February 2nd, an 80-71 La Salle win at the Charles E. Smith Center. This time out, they allowed La Salle to convert on 12 of their 22 three-point attempts. This, combined with 16 turnovers and only one made three-pointer of their own sealed the Colonials’ fourth straight loss and seventh in their last nine games.
However, on offense, GW was pretty effective. They shot 55 percent as a team and grabbed 11 more rebounds than La Salle. Isaiah Armwood secured his eighth double-double of the season, leading the team with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Lasan Kromah added 15 points on 7-13 shooting in 23 minutes off the bench while Kethan Savage put together a solid effort with 12 points on 6-9 from the field. Kevin Larsen also had a solid, all-around performance with eight points, five rebounds, and six assists.
Yet, the Colonials were perpetually behind from the 15:36 mark of the first half after beginning the game in a back-and-forth tussle with the Explorers. After grabbing a 10-9 lead, GW would allow a 19-4 run over the next four minutes to put La Salle ahead for good. They surrendered 10 of La Salle’s 12 three-pointers in the first half alone and could not find an answer to stifle the Explorers’ precision from beyond the arc. By halftime, a Tyreek Duren buzzer beater put La Salle ahead by 10 at 47-37.
The Explorers would take further control of the game in the second half, keeping GW at bay and never letting them get closer than 12 at any point. Furthermore, La Salle’s effective, time consuming possessions toward the end of the half thwarted any chance of a late GW comeback.
Ramon Galloway scored 29 points on 11-17 shooting in his final game in front of the home fans at Tom Gola Arena. Tyreek Duren added 19 points while Jerrell Wright had 16 points and seven rebounds for a La Salle squad that shot 61 percent from the field as a team.
The defensive effort from the Colonials is certain to raise a number of red flags from fans as they head into Saturday’s win-or-go-home matchup with Dayton (17-12, 7-8 Atlantic 10) at the Smith Center. GW’s defense, which had been and still is a strength, was porous tonight as they did nothing to deter La Salle from getting any and every shot they wanted throughout the game. However, the Colonials have also proven that they can step up defensively at any given moment, causing problems for such formidable opponents as Kansas State, Temple, Butler, and Saint Louis.
GW (12-16, 6-9 Atlantic 10) will need their defense to step in a huge way on Saturday if they are to emerge with a win and a ticket punched to Brooklyn for the Atlantic 10 Tournament. As was alluded to before, Saturday’s contest is effectively the Colonials’ unofficial first game of the tournament, after Charlotte came back to steal a win in overtime over lowly Duquesne, moving them to 7-8. The Colonials now sit on the outside looking in, a game behind Charlotte, Dayton, Richmond, and St. Bonaventure who occupy spots nine through 12 and with no possible way of securing a bid to the postseason with a loss. The task is extremely simple and for Mike Lonergan’s crew, it will be all hands on deck in order to secure the required win. Otherwise, their drive to the Atlantic 10 Tournament, dubbed “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” within the university, will end in a premature slumber.
You can catch all the action of Saturday’s contest with Dayton beginning at 1:45 with tipoff at 2 p.m. on WRGW-Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com.
Men’s Basketball Writer
RICHMOND, Va. – For the majority of their game in Virginia’s state capital on Wednesday night, the Colonials controlled the pace and tempo and controlled their own fate in a must-win game. However, it all unraveled late as the Colonials a nine-point second half lead and lost to the rival Richmond Spiders 73-64 at the Robins Center.
Freshman center Kevin Larsen led the way for GW with 16 points on 6-8 shooting to go along with five rebounds. Fellow freshman guard Kethan Savage had one of the best games of his young collegiate career, scoring 12 points on 4-5 shooting. Isaiah Armwood finished with eight points and nine rebounds, coming short of another double-double, while Patricio Garino had eight points and eight rebounds of his own.
The Colonials got out to a flying start, using a palpable sense of urgency to jump out to a 21-7 lead 8:45 into the first half. However, in hindsight, the next 11 minutes of the first half can be looked at as a crucial missed opportunity for GW to put away the Spiders early, as they allowed Richmond to hang within striking distance, ultimately allowing the Spiders to tie the game at 36 heading into halftime.
The second half began much the same way the first did, as GW used a 12-3 run to build a nine-point lead with 16:10 to play. However, once again the Colonials missed a golden opportunity to put the Spiders away, instead allowing Richmond to chip away at the lead on their home floor. Richmond would tie the game at 55 with 7:13 to play and take the lead for good 23 seconds later with a big Alonzo Nelson-Ododa three-pointer. Crucial moments down the stretch for GW to tie the game would be met with missed opportunities and Richmond would get timely baskets to put the game out of reach.
Cedrick Lindsay led the way scoring-wise for the Spiders with 19 points while Greg Robbins added 15 points and Darien Brothers scored 12 for a Richmond team looking to improve their conference standing and get clear of the logjam of 6-7 teams occupying spots nine through twelve.
Unfortunately for GW, the loss puts them square in the middle of that logjam, with the standings listing them in 12th, but holding the same conference record as Charlotte, St. Joseph’s, and St. Bonaventure. Furthermore, Dayton’s crushing win over Charlotte puts the Flyers just one game back of GW, making the Colonials’ standing even more precarious.
This dynamic combined with the fact that the Colonials had a couple of chances during the course of the game to secure the win makes the loss especially devastating for GW. With three games remaining, it is blatantly obvious that they have to go 2-1 during the final stretch at the worst. However, with two of their final three coming against nationally ranked Saint Louis and an extremely tough La Salle team which has already beaten GW once this season, securing a 2-1 finish seems like a shaky proposition at best. The way the season is shaking out, it seems as though the Colonials are on a collision course to play a de facto Atlantic 10 Tournament play-in game against Dayton on March 9th at the Smith Center.
But for now, GW (12-14, 6-7 Atlantic 10) must focus on their next game, a matchup with #18 Saint Louis (22-5, 11-2 Atlantic 10) on Saturday in Foggy Bottom. Coverage starts at 3:45 with tipoff at 4 p.m. on WRGW- Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com.
Last season was hailed as a revival of George Washington men’s basketball. New head coach Mike Lonergan came with a lot of momentum. He assembled a new coaching staff and hoped to lead last year’s 17-win to a bigger and better finish. There were even aspirations of a fringe NCAA tournament bid.
By season’s end though, both fans and the team found themselves staring at a 10-21 record, another first round exit at the hands of the Dayton Flyers, and the graduation of their leading scorer and current Tulsa 66ers rookie Tony Taylor.
Consider this season “The Foggy Bottom Revival: Take Two.”
Returning to the fold are seniors Lasan Kromah and David Pellom, the team’s top returning scorers from last year. Kromah, who scored 11.1 points per game, showed some rust a year removed from his foot injury but still showed some game-changing potential. From his double-double performance – with a career-high 14 rebounds – against Xavier and two strong scoring totals against Richmond, there’s still more to come from the local guard. Pellom averaged career highs in points (10.4), rebounds (6.1), and shot an A-10 leading and program-record 68.5% from the field. With his energy and as the GW’s principal low-post scoring threat, Pellom served as a crucial staple in the rotation even though he only started four games. The Colonials are going to miss him early in the season though as he’s still recovering from left wrist surgery in the off-season.
Senior guard Bryan Bynes was the lone backup at point-guard last year and will likely keep that role. He comes into this season as the team’s best perimeter defender and will look to expand his offensive versatility. Swingman Dwayne Smith is coming into his senior season healthy for the first time in his Colonials career and will likely start right out of the gate. Concussion symptoms plagued him all last year, but he showed a glimpse of his strong sophomore season in a late six-game stretch where he averaged 11 points and four rebounds. Coupled with his already tough inside play, if he regains his ability to stretch the floor with his jump shot, he will be GW’s biggest x-factor on both ends of the floor.