Men’s Basketball Writer
WASHINGTON - Coming off a disheartening loss to Richmond on Wednesday night, the George Washington Colonials had the eighteenth-ranked team in the country on the ropes with seven minutes left to play on Saturday afternoon at the Charles E. Smith Center. However, they could not carry that lead home to the finish, ultimately falling to the Saint Louis Billikens 66-58.
Kevin Larsen led the Colonials in scoring, finishing with 14 points on 7-14 shooting to go along with four rebounds. Seniors Lasan Kromah and Dwayne Smith combined for 22 points off the bench, with Kromah scoring 12 and Smith scoring 10, while Isaiah Armwood grabbed 10 rebounds. Patricio Garino also had a solid game, finishing with a modest stat line of eight points, six rebounds, and four steals in the losing effort.
Saint Louis (23-5, 12-2 Atlantic 10) was led by junior forward Dwayne Evans, who finished with an impressive line of 22 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes of action. Kwamain Mitchell was also a thorn in the Colonials’ sides, using his speed and explosiveness with the ball to finish with 18 points on 6-12 shooting. Jordair Jett also contributed off the bench for the Billikens, finishing with 11 points on an efficient 3-5 shooting.
The game itself can best be described as a good, old-fashioned slugfest dominated by physicality on both ends of the floor. The teams were equal inmost facets of the game, with both squads shooting about 41 percent from the field. Saint Louis grabbed 34 total rebounds while GW garnered 32 of their own. The Billikens turned the ball over 16 times compared to the Colonials’ 14.
But the game was decided on three-point and free throw shooting. The Billikens made three more three-pointers than GW did in the win while converting on 21 of their 24 free throw attempts. Meanwhile, the Colonials made only eight of their 15 free throw opportunities, once again creating headaches for Mike Lonergan, the coaching staff, and the GW fans in attendance on Saturday.
Yet, despite their woes in those two crucial categories, GW weathered a few Saint Louis runs and led by three with 7:12 remaining, sending the 3,258 in attendance into a frenzy. But, a 14-3 Billiken run over the next four and a half minutes proved to be too much for the Colonials to handle as Saint Louis took firm control of the game and proved by they are the eighteenth-ranked team in the country and, arguably, the best team in the Atlantic 10.
However, GW has nothing to hang their heads about following a hard-fought loss to a team that is, quite simply, more talented than they are. In fact, they can take pride in the fact that they forced a Saint Louis team averaging only 11 turnovers per game entering Saturday to commit 16 turnovers on the afternoon. In addition, the Colonials’ 1-3-1 zone employed in early portion of the second half created many problems for the Billikens that took a while to remedy.
However, coming close can only provide you so much solace and for the Colonials, while they did play one of their better games of the season and proved to be a worthy foe for a highly talented Billiken team, it still was not enough to come out with a win. In fact, the loss, combined with Dayton’s four point win over Richmond, puts GW in an extremely precarious spot entering the final week of the Atlantic 10 season. Regardless of who wins the matchup between Charlotte and St. Bonaventure, the Colonials will be in a three-way tie for eleventh place, with one of those teams on the outside looking in. The Colonials still control their own destiny entering the final week, with two wins assuring them a spot in Brooklyn. However, they have set themselves up for a nail-biting final week.
GW (12-15, 6-8 Atlantic 10) will now prepare for their final road game of the season, a tough rematch from earlier in the season with La Salle (20-7, 10-4 Atlantic 10) at the Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia. Coverage starts at 6:45 with tipoff at 7 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.
Men’s Basketball Writer
PHILADELPHIA – The Colonials found themselves in an extremely deep hole right out of the gate on Saturday night at the Hagen Arena, a hole they valiantly tried to dig themselves out of but ultimately fell short in doing, falling to the St. Joseph’s Hawks 71-59.
GW found themselves trailing 20-2 just 5:03 into the game as a result of an opening stretch from the Hawks that saw them beating the Colonials to the punch in virtually all facets of the game. St. Joe’s would expand their lead to the largest of the night, a 19 point advantage with 12:20 remaining in the first half before GW would begin to chip away.
The comeback effort was spurred on, in large part, by a defensive adjustment that saw them go from a man-to-man defense to a 1-3-1 zone. The zone was able to force the Hawks into taking more contested jumpers and, while the zone left the Colonials slightly vulnerable in the rebounding department, it was a risk coach Mike Lonergan had to take to get his team back into the game. The adjustment helped GW trim the St. Joseph’s lead to eight with 49 seconds left in the half before a Langston Galloway three allowed the Hawks to take a 40-29 lead into halftime.
The second half saw the Colonials take big steps forward to put the Hawks on their heels headed to the finish only to see GW allow a huge, momentum-swinging play that would take them right out of it. The biggest of these plays came down the stretch in the second half when, following a Kevin Larsen three-point play that trimmed the deficit to seven, the Colonials got a crucial defensive stop and had possession with a chance to cut the Hawks’ lead to less than five. But a sloppy offensive possession resulted in an Isaiah Armwood turnover that led to a crucial Langston Galloway three-pointer, extending the St. Joseph’s lead back to 10 with 5:09 to play and served as the dagger in the hearts of the Colonials.
The aforementioned Langston Galloway was a huge thorn in the sides of the Colonials, scoring 26 points on 10-17 shooting, including 6-9 from beyond the arc, to go along with two rebounds and four steals in 38 minutes of action. Fellow guard Carl Jones also put together a nice performance, scoring 15 points and grabbing five rebounds for St. Joseph’s (15-10, 6-6 Atlantic 10), who moved into a tie for ninth place with GW and Richmond as a result of the victory.
Scoring-wise, GW was led by Isaiah Armwood, who had 14 points and five rebounds. Kevin Larsen also had a solid night in the middle with nine points and six rebounds. However, the effort of both Patricio Garino and Lasan Kromah was really the catalyst for GW’s attempted comeback. Garino finished with a modest stat line of 10 points, five rebounds, and two steals, but was extremely active on both ends of the floor the entire night cutting off passing lanes and forcing the Hawks to earn their drives inside. Kromah finished with 13 points on 6-10 shooting, hitting some key mid-range jumpers to cut the deficit in size.
But despite the valiant effort that the team gave to get back into the game, another extremely slow start that saw them look unready to play from the opening tip cost them a key conference matchup to a team right on their heels in the standings. Slow starts have plagued GW over their last four games with the exception of their matchup at VCU last Saturday, which saw them jump out to an early lead only to result, ironically, in their worst loss of the four-game stretch. There is no dispute that the Colonials are a second half team that can make opponents pay for giving there all to finish them off, but at a certain point, this team has to figure out that they cannot continue starting slow and expect to win many games in this conference. For a team employing the slogan “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn,” it is interesting that they have started their recent stretch of games like a team asleep at the wheel. But they must remedy the trend or, make no mistake, there will be no trip to Brooklyn come March.
GW (12-13, 6-6 Atlantic 10) now prepares for another crucial Atlantic 10 showdown, this time with conference rival Richmond (16-11, 6-6 Atlantic 10) on Wednesday night at the Robins Center. Coverage starts at 6:45 with tipoff at 7 p.m. on WRGW Sports-Colonials Radio Central at our alternate feed on wrgwsports.com.
Men’s Basketball Writer
RICHMOND, Va. - The wheels fell off for GW on Saturday night as VCU wreaked havoc on the Colonials game plan in all facets and cruised to an 84-57 win in front of a capacity crowd at the Siegel Center.
Only two Colonials finished in double figures, led by freshman center Kevin Larsen, who put together a solid evening with 10 points and nine rebounds. Fellow freshman Patricio Garino also finished with 10 points of his own on 5-9 shooting in 32 minutes of action. However, those were the lone bright spots for a GW team that got out to a fast start, leading 8-2 a little over four minutes in, and then proceeded to be utterly dominated by the Rams the rest of the way.
Shaka Smart’s fast paced and aggressive full court defense, dubbed “Havoc” in VCU circles, created all sorts of problems for the young GW lineup, ultimately forcing the Colonials into committing 25 turnovers on the evening. Joe McDonald committed eight turnovers alone, as he struggled to get the ball past half court frequently. Garino and Kethan Savage did not fare much better, each turning the ball over four times.
Yet, for a while, the Colonials lurked around, keeping the deficit around 12 points. But the fast pace and aggressive nature of VCU’s defense wore down the Colonials late in the second half, causing them to be constantly beat to lose balls and rebounds. The result was a 21-6 run over the final 9:43 to put the game well out of reach for GW.
VCU was led by a stellar performance from Juvonte Reddic, who finished with 24 points on 11-13 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. Yet, ironically, in his postgame interview, Shaka Smart commented that Reddic “could’ve played better,” showing just how much Smart expects from his highly talented Rams squad, who improved to 21-5 overall and 9-2 in the Atlantic 10, keeping them in sole possession of first place in the conference over the likes of Saint Louis, Butler, and La Salle.
As for GW (11-12, 5-5 Atlantic 10), the loss drops them one spot in the conference standings to ninth. However, combined with Dayton’s win over Xavier, the Colonials are now just a game and a half clear of the dreaded thirteenth place in the conference, currently occupied by St. Bonaventure. With Fordham as the only game left on the schedule where it can be legitimately stated that GW enters as the better team, it is shaping up to be a dog fight for the last tickets to Brooklyn. The Colonials have to be careful not to dwell too long on their loss to VCU, the type of loss that can leave many teams psychologically scarred for a while. Three of their final six games come against teams which will be battling for the final four seeds in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, and in order to stave off the possibility of being left out altogether, they will need to regain much of the confidence that was drained in Richmond on Saturday night.
The Colonials now prepare to host the aforementioned Fordham Rams (6-20, 2-9 Atlantic 10) on Wednesday night in the 500th game to be played in Charles E. Smith Center history. WRGW’s coverage starts at 6:45 with tipoff at 7 p.m. on gwradio.com.