Your Guide to GW sports

Sophomore Hannah Schaible reaches for the ball in the Colonials' win over Georgetown last week. Schaible scored 12 points and added seven rebounds against Memphis. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Sophomore Hannah Schaible reaches for the ball in the Colonials’ win over Georgetown last week. Schaible scored 12 points and added seven rebounds against Memphis. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Alex Kist.

Holding a solid lead heading into halftime, the Colonials tightened their stranglehold on Memphis in the second half to defeat the Tigers in their sixth straight victory of the season Monday.

GW beat Memphis 63-44 to bring its record to 8-2, the team’s best start since the 2006-07 season.

Junior forward Jonquel Jones led all scorers, notching a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Following close behind was sophomore Hannah Schaible, who tallied 12 points and seven rebounds, while sophomore Caira Washington added nine rebounds while being held, uncharacteristically, without a point.

“It was a fun game. I got to really settle down and got a chance to move the ball around. It was a good game. Everyone chipped in,” Jones said.

The Colonials continued to dominate the boards, with a 54-32 advantage off the glass. GW entered the game fifth in the nation by an impressive rebounding margin of 15.2 rebounds per game, and has won the rebounding margin in every game this season.

“I think that the two things we hang our hat on are the ability to be aggressive and rebound the basketball,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “I think that helps us get second-chance points and to the free-throw line and then how we get out of transitions.”

The Colonials had a 29-22 lead at halftime with the rebounding advantage well in hand, but had allowed Memphis (5-5) to stay close by amassing 12 turnovers.

In the second, however, the Colonials outscored the Tigers 34-22 and were much cleaner with the ball. GW had just seven turnovers after halftime. The team went on a 9-0 run early in the second half and kept momentum by pressuring the Tigers, who ended the game shooting under 30 percent from the field for their lowest point total of the season.

“Rebounding really gives us a chance to get the ball and push the ball up court. We really like to run transitions, so then we capitalize on the misses,” Schaible said.

With under eight minutes left in regulation, GW claimed back-to-back baskets after Jones elevated for a jumper and senior guard Chakecia Miller stole the ball on an inbounds play, letting her momentum carry her straight to the basket, which boosted GW to 53-29.

The Colonials kept composure at the line and didn’t allow Memphis any extra chances with a season-low five fouls on the night. GW shot over 83 percent from the charity stripe, aided by Miller’s perfect 5-5 night.

“We were cutting people off the free-throw line tonight,” Tsipis said. “Especially in the second half, we kept them from getting back, whether it be a transition or the offensive glass. I think that’s a great example of when your offense isn’t at full tilt and you aren’t executing as well as they were, you are able to really put forth a great effort.”

GW now leads the Atlantic 10 with an 8-2 record entering the final stretch of games before conference play begins Jan. 4. The Colonials will host Saint Mary’s on Sunday at noon in the Smith Center before a string of matches on the road to close out 2014.

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Coach Lonergan conceded his first loss this month after GW's three game winning steak came to an end after a 54-61 loss at Penn State on Sunday. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Head coach Mike Lonergan’s three-game win steak came to an end Sunday with a 64-51 loss to Penn State. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Updated: Dec. 15, 2014 at 9:20 p.m.

Patricio Garino drove at the basket, stretching out his right arm toward the rim. Jostled as he went up, the ball couldn’t get over the iron. Penn State got up in transition for a fast-break layup.

After going back and forth early, the Colonials fell flat in the second half, losing to Penn State 64-51 on the road Sunday and falling to 6-3 on the season.

“They played harder than us. They definitely deserved to win that game,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “We really played poorly today, and it was mostly just energy and effort.”

After two cupcake defenses in DePaul and Charlotte, Penn State (10-1) clogged the paint enough to stop the Colonials inside, freed up by GW’s nonexistent presence beyond the arc.

GW still outscored Penn State 34-26 in the paint, but the Colonials made none of their eight attempts at threes. The Lions sunk seven of 24 attempts against a GW defense that was holding opponents to 28 percent shooting from three heading into the game.

After GW led by as much as seven early in the first half, the Nittany Lions closed out the first with a 34-28 lead, with five of their threes coming before halftime.

“We tried to switch everything in the first half. I thought that worked pretty well, but they were driving past our four men,” Lonergan said. “It just seemed like at the right time they were wide open from three.”

Drives to the basket were blocked six times in the first half, including a series of volleys under the basket as the Colonials tried to pull closer before halftime. Penn State blocked 11 shots in the game, which Lonergan called “the toughest stat” for GW.

Both teams had just 11 turnovers, but neither shot well. Penn State was able to defend GW’s rebounding well enough to generate 62 shots compared to 53 for GW. The Colonials shot just 34 percent in the game to Penn State’s 38.7. On three days rest, Lonergan said the team was worn down.

“We ended up playing defense too long,” Lonergan said. “Guys just got tired.”

GW got within a possession of Penn State twice early in the second half but couldn’t find a rhythm. The game plodded along, the Lions getting fouls called and GW failing to capitalize. The Colonials were 15-23 from the line to Penn State’s perfect 9-9.

“You can’t put up 51 points and miss so many opportunities from the free-throw line and stay in the game,” Lonergan said.

Any attempt at a run was crushed by Penn State’s top scorer D.J. Newbill, who led all scorers with 20 points.

Junior Patricio Garino recorded his sixth straight game with double figures, scoring 15 points against Penn State on Sunday. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Junior Patricio Garino recorded his sixth straight game with double figures on Sunday, scoring 15 points against Penn State. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

And while Newbill was joined by Brandon Taylor with 17 points and Shep Garner with 10, the Colonials couldn’t find much scoring outside of Garino and Kevin Larsen, who each scored 15 points. Larsen had his first double-double of the season, also adding 13 total rebounds.

Points were thinly spread beyond that pair. Kethan Savage had his second straight quiet game, going 1-7 from the field after a 1-9 night against DePaul, though he did make 5-6 free throws. John Kopriva had five points and Joe McDonald only three.

“We’ve got five guys that can score on the floor,” Larsen said. “We’ve just got to play more of a team game and we’ll be fine.”

With three starters going quiet, GW received no help via bench production, seeing their reserves outscored 13-6 and getting just four points from Yuta Watanabe and two from Darian Bryant.

The team can try to forget the loss with a change of scenery, taking off next for the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The Colonials will play their first game against Ohio on Dec. 22 in Honolulu.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
In a photo caption, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that GW lost to Penn State 54-61. The Colonials lost 64-51. We regret this error.

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Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014 6:03 p.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball at Penn State

What: Men’s basketball (6-2) at Penn State (9-1)
Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, Pa.
When: Sunday, Dec. 14 at noon

The Colonials will begin their longest road stretch of the regular season when they visit Happy Valley to take on the Nittany Lions on Sunday.

GW has found some rhythm lately and will search for its fourth consecutive win against the No. 42 team in RPI. GW is ranked No. 44.

That consistency has come largely through finding lanes and dominating inside, exactly what the Nittany Lions will try to take away from the Colonials, who will look to stay the course against a defensive team that’s stronger than the ones they’ve played recently.

The case for the Nittany Lions:
Penn State is 9-1 largely on the prolific scoring of D.J. Newbill, who is scoring 22.1 points per game to rank seventh in the nation. He’s played nearly every minute of each game so far, averaging over 38 minutes per game.

Penn State doesn’t force a lot of turnovers or block many shots, but the team forces opponents into bad shooting spots. Opponents are averaging 38 percent shooting against the Nittany Lions.

Penn State’s matchups are also attempting more than 20 threes per game and making about a third of them. The Nittany Lions will likely try to push the Colonials into spots where they have no choice but to shoot the three ball, which is falling just over 32 percent of the time.

They’ll have the home crowd, and in the sports hysteria of Happy Valley, that could pack an extra punch on Sunday. Penn State is averaging 7,321 visitors to games at the Bryce Jordan Center through five home games this season, though that’s only about half capacity.

The case for GW:
The Colonials have a transitive edge over the Nittany Lions through their one shared opponent, Charlotte. GW beat the 49ers 78-70 in the BB&T Classic, while Penn State fell in double overtime to them on Nov. 20 in the team’s only loss of the season.

Newbill will also be coming off his worst game of the season, the only game in which he hasn’t at least tied for a team lead in scoring, in a 64-62 win over Duquesne. He could bounce back, but if he’s slumping, Penn State will quickly become one-dimensional.

If the Colonials can keep finding ways inside, with Kevin Larsen continuing to box out opponents and Patricio Garino keeping his scoring streak going, the Nittany Lions’ seven-game win streak could come to an end Sunday.

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Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014 4:27 p.m.

Colonials, Larsen find rhythm as Hawaii calls

Junior Patricio Garino has been shredding defenses through GW's last three games where he's shot nearly 70 percent from the field. Garino has found extra space due to the improved play of classmate Kevin Larsen. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor.

Junior Patricio Garino has shredded defenses during GW’s last three games, where he’s shot nearly 70 percent from the field. Garino has found extra space because of the improved play of classmate Kevin Larsen. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Heading into the Colonials’ Thursday night matchup against DePaul, the Atlantic 10 conference was 0-5 against teams from the Big East. GW was 0-1.

That loss, 58-54 to Seton Hall, was the knock on the young season. The second half of the game against the University of Virginia had paralyzed the team, but a road win against the Cavaliers was not expected. Falling to the Pirates was, in head coach Mike Lonergan’s words, “disappointing.”

The Colonials pulled their season record against the Big East to .500 with the A-10’s first win over a member of the other basketball-centric conference, defeating DePaul 81-68. Is Lonergan happier with the team’s performance relative to the game at Seton Hall? “Oh, yeah,” he said, exhaling. He seemed satisfied.

Sitting to his right was junior Kevin Larsen, who scored 18 points against the Blue Demons. After a tough start, Larsen has improved his game since Seton Hall, and the Colonials have won three straight.

“Just me being more focused and more aggressive and not taking plays off, which is one of my biggest weaknesses. Just me playing hard every possession,” Larsen said.

The day after the Seton Hall game, Larsen hit the gym with an assistant coach at 8 a.m. Since then, he’s averaged 14 points per game.

That number is second to just one player in the same time frame: Patricio Garino. Garino scored 23 against UMBC, 21 against Charlotte and 19 against DePaul. The slashing playmaker is shooting nearly 70 percent in his last three games.

Drive after drive, Garino sliced his way to the rim for an easy layup. His right-handed moves dazzled the crowd, but they were surgical. Garino only missed once in open play: The basket was an afterthought by the time he’d snaked past the last DePaul defender.

So is his hot stretch the reason GW has been winning games? Not according to Garino.

“I think Kevin is the key to our success,” he said.

Larsen has been stronger inside, posting up to create driving lanes for classmates Garino and Kethan Savage.

“Sometimes he’s very skilled. Sometimes [Kevin] posts up on the block and ends up on the short corner, but he’s so much more effective inside, where he can score and do a lot of things,” Lonergan said. “I think it’s one of the reasons Patricio is shooting an unbelievable percentage in the last three games.”

GW’s last couple opponents – DePaul and Charlotte – have had the defensive fortitude of a stick of butter. The Blue Demons are tied for the No. 253 scoring defense in Division I and the 49ers are ranked No. 322 out of 345. Both allow 70 points or more per game.

On offense, though, both are much better. Charlotte is tied for the No. 71 scoring offense and DePaul is ranked No. 32. GW needed consistency to outpace both.

Junior Joe McDonald is one of four Colonials averaging double-figure scoring after GW's win over DePaul. The Colonials got the A-10's first win of the season over a Big East opponent Thursday night at the Smith Center. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor.

Junior Joe McDonald is one of four Colonials averaging double-figure scoring after GW’s win over DePaul. The Colonials got the A-10′s first win of the season over a Big East opponent Thursday night at the Smith Center. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor.

With its consistency, the team is in a good position as it heads into a tough game at Penn State and then to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic. The core four has accomplished Lonergan’s preseason goal of having four double-digit scorers, from Garino’s 15.1 points per game to Joe McDonald’s even 10.

“I just felt that our juniors, they all can score,” Lonergan said. “And we’re best, like Charlotte, when they’re all in double figures.”

There’s one big caveat in the team’s 13 missed free throws against DePaul. GW went 14-27. The Colonials can’t expect to lead every game by 20 at halftime and have cushion to use if an opponent starts pressing and fouling wildly like DePaul did.

Those numbers are uncomfortably similar to the 14-24 mark GW hit against Memphis in the NCAA Tournament last year. Shooting freebies like that will put a damper on the Colonials’ chances to pull out tough wins against even better opponents. GW could face Wichita State in Hawaii.

But trouble from the line or not, now is a good time for the Colonials to know themselves. GW won’t be back to the Smith Center – where the team has won 19 of the last 20 games – until Dec. 30. Conference play starts four days later.

“I think we’re more focused now. We’ve picked it out, our defense. We’ve been focusing,” Garino said. “We’re passing the ball much more.”

It’s worth remembering that the Wooden Legacy tournament was where last year’s team beat Creighton to build its NCAA case, and GW still doesn’t have a true, signature win. Larsen’s improvement could be helping the Colonials hit their stride at just the right time.

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Junior Kevin Larsen came alive in the Colonials 81-68 domination over the Blue Devils, recording 18 points and 8 rebounds. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Junior Kevin Larsen came alive in the Colonials’ 81-68 domination over the Blue Demons, recording 18 points and eight rebounds. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Updated: Dec. 12, 2014 at 12:06 p.m.

Men’s basketball dominated DePaul inside, scoring more than half of their points in the paint, to defeat the Blue Demons 81-68 Thursday at the Smith Center.

Junior forward Patricio Garino guided the Colonials (6-2) with a team-high 19 points, followed closely by junior Kevin Larsen, who led the team with eight rebounds and scored 18 points to share the second top-scoring spot with junior point guard Joe McDonald.

Against a sharp-shooting DePaul (6-2) team that had the 21st best field goal shooting percentage in the country coming into the contest (.495), GW was able to hold the edge and shoot 57.1 percent on the night to the Blue Demons’ 49.1 percent mark.

“There was really no letdown. We missed some easy buckets, but we never really let any of their guys get going,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “It’s two games in a row now that we’ve played teams with some talent inside and they didn’t really hurt us too much.”

While DePaul struggled to get the ball in the net, GW thrived down low. The Colonials would finish the night outscoring the Blue Demons 54-24 in the paint and out-rebounding them 38-28.

“[Outscoring DePaul in the paint] was a big plus, but I thought we would be struggling a little more to score inside because both of their big guys are really good players,” Larsen said. “But that motivated us to try to go at them and show that we are better players.”

Three Colonials would end the first half scoring in double figures, helping GW secure a commanding 20-point lead at halftime. Larsen led with 11 first-half points, while Garino and McDonald each scored 10.

“Kevin [Larsen] is so much more effective inside where he can score and do a lot of things,” Lonergan said. “That’s opened up a lot of driving lanes for Patricio [Garino] … and allows guys to get to the rim, and I think that’s why Patricio is shooting an unbelievable percentage in the last three games.”

GW shot an impressive 60 percent from the field in the first half to DePaul’s 34.6 percent and demolished their Big East opponent 28-6 in the paint. Junior guard Kethan Savage scored two points but had a team-high five rebounds, as his team would out-rebound the Blue Demons 21-12 in the first frame.

An 11-4 run by DePaul early in the second half kept the Blue Demons in the game, but DePaul’s 15th of 24 total personal fouls sent GW to the line, slowing down the game.

Sophomore guard Nick Griffin knocked down one of his two threes on the night moments later to liven a quieting crowd and give the Colonials a 52-33 lead. Griffin and freshmen Yuta Watanabe led the bench with six points each, while Watanabe also contributed five rebounds and two assists in the 13-point GW victory.

Junior Joe McDonald didn't stray from the basket as he scored 18 points over in GW's 81-68 win over DePaul. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Junior Joe McDonald didn’t stray from the basket as he scored 18 points in GW’s 81-68 win over DePaul. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Garino had shot 62 percent in GW’s previous four games and went eight for nine from the field against DePaul, also totaling five of the Colonials’ 10 steals.

“I think pressuring the ball on defense allows me to run the transition,” Garino said. “And I think I’m going to the rim and making layups. I have to pick up my free-throw shooting, but I feel comfortable and again, pressuring the ball opens everything for me.”

Despite the Blue Demons’ improved 63 percent shooting in the second half and GW’s 14-27 mark at the free throw line, the Colonials would hold on for the fourth consecutive win at home this season. GW is now 19-1 in their last 20 games at the Smith Center.

The Colonials will look to extend their three-game winning streak Sunday as they head to University Park, Pa. to take on Penn State at 12 p.m.

This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
In a photo caption, The Hatchet incorrectly identified DePaul as the Blue Devils. They are the Blue Demons. The Hatchet also incorrectly reported that the rebounding margin was 31-21. It was 38-28. We regret these errors.

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Sophomore Jonquel Jones fights off a defender last season. Hatchet File Photo

Sophomore Jonquel Jones fights off a defender last season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rob Bartnichak.

Women’s basketball junior Jonquel Jones is on the coveted Naismith Trophy preseason watch list, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Wednesday.

Jones is averaging a double-double with 15.2 points and 10 rebounds per game this season. The Preseason Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team selection is also shooting 54.8 percent from the field.

The Naismith Trophy is awarded every year to the best player in both men’s and women’s college basketball. Jones is currently one of 50 preseason candidates.

The list will be narrowed down to 30 in February, then to 10 and finally to four finalists.

Jones is the first Colonial since Kimberly Beck in 2007-08 to be selected to the preseason watch list. The trophy has been awarded to women’s players since 1983.

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Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 10:12 p.m.

Preview: GW men’s basketball vs. DePaul

Junior Patricio Garino had 21 points in the Colonials 78-70 win over the 49ers. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Junior Patricio Garino had 21 points in the Colonials’ 78-70 win over the 49ers on Sunday. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

What: Men’s basketball (5-2) vs. DePaul (6-1)
Where: Smith Center
When: Thursday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.

The Colonials will face their first test at home this season and look to extend their two-game winning streak when they take on the DePaul Blue Demons at the Smith Center on Thursday.

GW is 3-0 at Foggy Bottom this season and 18-1 in the last 19 games at the Smith Center, but may be challenged by a sharp-shooting DePaul team that is averaging 79.7 points per game and shooting .495 from the field, the 26th and 21st best in the country, respectively.

The Blue Demons defeated Stanford, which holds an RPI ranking of 54, by 10 in their most impressive win so far this season, but also took a tough 12-point loss to a weaker Lehigh team just a few days earlier.

After dominant wins over Grambling State, Longwood and UMBC, it will be interesting to see how the Colonials take on a more formidable opponent on their home court.

The case for DePaul:
Four DePaul starters are averaging 11 points per game or more, while just two GW starters are doing the same. The Blue Demons are led by junior forward Myke Herny, who commands the team with 17 points per game, followed by 6-foot-11 sophomore center Tommy Hamilton IV, who is averaging 15 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game.

Sophomore guard Billy Garrett Jr., the reigning Big East Rookie of the Year, shares a team-high .500 three-point shooting percentage to contribute to his team’s overall .410 percentage from beyond the arc. The team is also ranked 19th nationally with a .756 free throw percentage.

Defensively, DePaul is 43rd in the nation in steals, averaging 8.4 per game. If the Blue Demons can continue their strong shooting, force the Colonials to turn the ball over and get to the line, they may be able to hand GW its first loss at home this season.

The case for GW:
The Colonials will counter DePaul’s hot offense with a defense that is holding opponents to just 58 points per game and ranks 35th nationally in points allowed.

GW also holds a significant rebounding edge over DePaul, averaging 38 rebounds per game to the Blue Demons’ 31. While DePaul is well-rounded in scoring, only two of the team’s starters are averaging at least five rebounds per game. Each member of GW’S junior core four is averaging five or more.

Despite a high scoring percentage, DePaul ranks 224th in points allowed and may have a tough time shutting down a fast-paced GW offense that is averaging 72.9 points per game, led by junior Patricio Garino, who is coming off a 21-point game against Charlotte.

If GW can avoid fouls and turnovers, find the basket and continue its team rebounding efforts against a DePaul team that struggles on boards, the Colonials will cruise to their sixth victory of the season.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rob Bartnichak.

Sophomore Hannah Schaible’s first double-double of the season helped women’s basketball to some local bragging rights on Tuesday, as the Colonials defeated Georgetown 72-60 at the Smith Center for their fifth consecutive win.

Schaible’s 17 points, a career high, and 10 rebounds came in a game that head coach Jonathan Tsipis said was extra easy for GW (7-2) to play.

“In rivalry games, you know you’re always going to get the team’s best efforts.” Tsipis said. “Since I got here, I’ve wanted to play everyone in the area for the pride sort of thing.”

Junior Jonquel Jones scored 15 points, which all came in the second half, to help GW keep a lead the team took for good with 43 seconds left in the first half.

Georgetown was able to get within five points with 13 minutes left to play, but Jones recorded five consecutive baskets to restore a double-digit lead.

“Coach challenged me after the first half to be aggressive,” Jones said. “Watching my teammates play with intensity [made me] want to be out there and play like that to help them.”

Sophomore Hannah Schaible recorded her first double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the Colonials 72-60 win over the Hoyas on Tuesday night. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Sophomore Hannah Schaible recorded her first double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the Colonials’ 72-60 win over the Hoyas on Tuesday night. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

While GW and Georgetown shot similar percentages from the field – the Colonials netting 38.2 percent to the Hoyas’ 39.4 – GW continued to dominate the glass and out-rebounded Georgetown 54-38, creating a 24-10 advantage in second-chance points.

“We take a lot of pride in our rebounding,” Jones said. “We like that is one of our strong points, having big players inside and aggressive players coming in.”

Crashing the boards helped the Colonials keep the edge without winning the turnover margin. GW forced a total of 19 turnovers and scored 16 points off them, but also turned the ball over 19 times.

Sophomore Shannon Cranshaw started in place of Lauren Chase, who was out Tuesday. Cranshaw scored 12 points with a game-high four three-pointers.

“I thought our kids did a job of rallying around,” Tsipis said. “I thought Shannon did a good job finding those outside shots.”

Nine of Cranshaw’s points came in the first half, as did three of her three-pointers, as the Colonials were led by their outside players in the first frame. Schaible scored the first eight points for the Colonials before Jones took over in the second half.

The game brought revenge to the team after a loss up the hill at Georgetown last year, and was the first defeat of the Hoyas for the Colonials since 2004.

After beating a team that GW’s men’s squad has long tried to schedule a game against, women’s basketball will have another chance to grab some payback for men’s basketball when the Colonials return to action against Memphis on Monday in the Smith Center.

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Junior Joe McDonald recorded 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists in GW's 78-70 win over the 49ers at the Verizon Center on Sunday. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Junior Joe McDonald recorded 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in GW’s 78-70 win over the 49ers at the Verizon Center on Sunday. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

There’s no “I” in team.

Head coach Mike Lonergan rattled off the familiar cliché when describing his team’s success at the BB&T Classic, where they secured a 78-70 victory over Charlotte for their fifth win of the young season.

“I always tell our guys, ‘Hey, there’s no ‘I’ in team,’ and it really is true,” Lonergan said. “And we’ve got to play for each other because we have a chance to be a very good team, but we’ve got to take advantage of each of our strengths and hide our weaknesses, and we can’t do that individually.”

The fourth-year head coach said the Colonials “tried to do too much on [their] own” in their 58-54 loss to a still undefeated Seton Hall on Nov. 29. Up against former Atlantic 10 rival Charlotte on Sunday, GW proved just how important playing as a team can be.

In the eight-point victory, an evenly filled stat sheet and unselfish play helped GW overcome many of the struggles the team has faced so far this season.

GW had just seven assists in the loss to Seton Hall, while junior forward Kevin Larsen, the team’s go-to big man, scored just three points. But smarter passing got everyone involved Sunday, as the Colonials totaled 17 assists and the starting GW frontcourt combined for 17 points.

But the scoring didn’t stop there. Junior point guard Joe McDonald flirted with a triple-double, tallying eight rebounds, eight assists and 11 points on the day, and for the first time this season, all four starting juniors would score in double figures.

McDonald now leads the team with 6.9 rebounds per game, a rare statistic for a point guard, but he says rebounding is just another shared team responsibility.

“You know we’re missing Zeek, and you don’t want to put all of that pressure on Kevin [Larsen] and John [Kopriva],” McDonald said. “It’s not just me. Kethan [Savage] rebounds, Patricio [Garino] does, so it’s more a team effort.”

While McDonald has served as a rebounding guard all season, players moved outside of traditional roles in another way on Sunday. Instead of relying solely on their three-point specialists like Watanabe and sophomore Nick Griffin, who scored the only two threes in the Seton Hall loss, the Colonials saw improved three-point shooting Sunday, going a season high .500 from beyond the arc.

GW was able to get open looks for McDonald, Kopriva, Jorgensen and junior Kethan Savage who combined for five three-pointers on the day.

“We’ve been shooting very poorly from the three-point line this year. It’s no secret … but almost every three we took [today] was wide open. For us, five for 10 is excellent,” Lonergan said.

The Colonials also managed a season-high .750 shooting percentage from the line against the 49ers, led by McDonald who went 6-7, as five Colonials combined for 15 crucial points from the charity stripe.

The change may not be by accident or just a random switch. Lonergan said he was hoping the team would be 6-1 at this point instead of 5-2, calling the loss at Seton Hall a disappointment. He mentioned the presence of NBA scouts at practices as a distraction and said he may have been “too into” the team’s preseason pick as second in the A-10, which he discussed with the team.

“I just told the guys really after Virginia and Seton Hall that I don’t want to hear about the NBA and all that stuff. That stuff will come if you win games and play as a team,” Lonergan said. “Winning takes care of everything … These guys have got a lot of goals but the team goals come first.”

The work continues for the Colonials as they return to the Smith Center to take on DePaul on Thursday at 7 p.m.

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The Colonials were looking for a solid win, a statement about the strength and dependability of the junior “core four.” They got one.

Despite taking 18 fewer shots, GW (5-2) scored at will against former Atlantic 10 rival Charlotte (4-4), pulling away in the second half to beat the 49ers in the BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center on Sunday.

Led by Patricio Garino’s 21 points, each member of the junior core hit double figures to win 78-70, with much of the team’s best work on offense coming above the rim.

“I thought we controlled the tempo and ended up getting them in foul trouble, and I thought our guys played a really smart second half,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “It kind of felt like our team again, getting to the rim with Kethan [Savage] and Pato [Garino] getting to the basket and opening some things up.”

Junior Joe McDonald controlled the game as GW topped Charlotte 78-70 at the Verizon Center. In 32 minutes of play, McDonald recorded 11 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Junior Joe McDonald controlled the game as GW topped Charlotte 78-70 at the Verizon Center. In 32 minutes of play, McDonald recorded 11 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

When GW took shots, the majority of them fell. The Colonials shot nearly 55 percent from the field and shot 50 percent from beyond the three-point line, compared to Charlotte, which shot less than 40 percent from the field and just over 42 percent from beyond the arc.

But they didn’t always shoot. GW had nine fewer shot attempts than Charlotte in each half, allowing the 49ers to stay close despite strong shooting. Charlotte owned the offensive boards 19-8 and out-rebounded GW 37-34 in the game overall.

“One thing we’ve got to be better at is finishing the play. They got so many offensive rebounds, especially Willie Clayton, but other than that, we stuck to the game plan,” junior point guard Joe McDonald said.

Junior forward Kevin Larsen, a source of much concern earlier in the season, had another nice game after turning in a 14-point performance the last time out against UMBC. He scored 10 points and had six rebounds, including a precious three offensive rebounds, matched only off the offensive glass by Savage, who had a 15-point night.

Junior Patricio Garino had 21 points in the Colonials 78-70 win over the 49ers. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Junior Patricio Garino had 21 points in the Colonials’ 78-70 win over the 49ers. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Larsen also benefited from the foul trouble of Charlotte’s leading scorer, Mike Thorne Jr., who was held to just 21 minutes of play after picking up four fouls early in the second half when it was still close.

The Colonials went to the lockers up 31-28 after getting nearly all of their offense in the first half from Garino. The junior swingman scored 12 of his points in the first half on perfect 6-6 shooting on the way to his second straight game scoring 20 points or more.

“I think we’re pushing the ball a little more. I feel very confident in transition and I feel like we’re pushing the ball ahead,” Garino said. “We’re not being so selfish in the two-on-one, three-on-one game, and that’s what I feel comfortable with.”

With the Colonials down by two at 12-10, Garino followed up on two straight blocks from freshman forward Yuta Watanabe, the first of which would have been a surefire dunk off the fast break for Charlotte, with a steal and a one-handed slam of his own to tie the game.

Another steal, this time by sophomore guard Nick Griffin, gave Garino an easy layup. He scored GW’s next three baskets, including another dunk fed by a McDonald steal. McDonald filled the stat sheet with 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, again hinting at a triple-double.

With the starters taking over for GW, both teams used their benches lightly. Charlotte’s bench outscored GW’s 17-14, but the Colonials got a nice boost from freshman Paul Jorgensen, especially in the first half.

Visibly upset after being called for a travel, Jorgensen responded with five straight points, laying one in and then elevating for a rebound on the other end before putting GW up 29-26 with a triple. Jorgensen finished the game with eight points, showing some development going into a tough stretch of games to close out non-conference play.

“I thought it was really important when you look at our schedule,” Lonergan said. “This was definitely a game we had to get not being on our home court but in our home city.”

Besides a win over a Rutgers squad that had the college basketball world’s head spinning, the victory was GW’s first against a team not ranked in the Division I cellar of the NCAA.

That should give the team some confidence as it heads into the final games of non-conference play, starting with DePaul (6-1) on Thursday in the Smith Center.

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