Your Guide to GW sports
“I was a little embarrassed to be honest,” Garino said. “Only being able to beat them once? That wasn’t the right thing for us to leave here, our legacy.”
By midday, Garino was amidst a 27-point, four rebound performance, the best of his career, that led the Colonials to a 72-69 win in Richmond Saturday afternoon, the first win allowed by VCU in 12 games, including all of Atlantic 10 play.
He was GW’s most reliable presence at the rim, in the right spots for putbacks and shaking his defenders for transition dunks, while still shooting 4-for-7 from beyond the arc.
But the shot that put GW (18-8, 7-3 A-10) up for good came off a – rare – Garino miss. Senior forward Kevin Larsen (nine points, seven rebounds, three assists) snagged a rebound and passed to senior point guard Joe McDonald, who sank a three to put the Colonials up by one with 1:12 to play.
“The defense was just collapsing and I had a chance to get a wide-open shot,” McDonald said.
“Thankfully it went in, I know my three hasn’t been falling a lot lately but I’m never going to complain winning one at VCU.”
McDonald blocked a layup attempt by VCU point guard JeQuan Lewis (16 points, five assists) on the other end, and the Colonials called a timeout. VCU (17-6, 9-1 A-10) began its next possession with 33 seconds left, but with 10 remaining on the clock had not found anything. First-year head coach Will Wade called timeout and drew up a play designed to get his leading scorer, Melvin Johnson, a three-point look from the corner. He got it, but Johnson missed. VCU guard Korey Billbury collected the rebound but sophomore guard Yuta Watanabe (two points, six rebounds, one block) got a hand on his attempted layup, which missed as well.
“I almost had a heart attack,” Garino said. “It was a clean layup but luckily he missed it, Yuta had a good contest and we got the ball but it was definitely scary.”
McDonald (11 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals) came up with the ball, got fouled, and hit a free throw to put away the game.
“I’m glad they took a three, I don’t know if I could have handled overtime,” head coach Mike Lonergan said.
Garino’s transition scoring, especially, helped the Colonials close the gap in the paint and then somein the second half, finishing with a 32-26 advantage in inside scoring and a 16-9 mark in second-chance points despite being out rebounded 42-35 and 12-8 on the offensive glass.
Lonergan said that the Colonials were hesitant to box out at times because of VCU’s athleticism, but that he expected to win the rebounding battle. Redshirt Junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh led the Colonials with eight rebounds to go with his 11 points, though he missed much of the first half with foul trouble.
The game stayed within five points for the entire first half, which had five ties and six lead changes. The Colonials shot 42 percent to VCU’s 35 and made five three-pointers, but the Rams dominated the paint 18-8.
The second half started on a promising note for the Colonials, with Larsen getting his first points of the game to tie the score at 31.
But VCU quickly opened up a nine-point lead with an 11-2 run including three consecutive three-pointers and eight straight VCU points from Lewis.
“We scored the first bucket and tied it up and then boom,” Lonergan said. “Three threes in a row, the crowd got into it, I’m like, ‘Oh, boy, here we go again.’ So our guys kind of hung in there. We had to grind it out.”
The Colonials responded with a 7-0 run of their own, with five of the points coming from Garino. Back and forth they went, trading runs. But the Rams never got more than a 7-0 run going after that, mitigating at least a little bit of the damage from the sellout crowd in the Siegel Center.
“It can get out of hand so quickly here,” McDonald said.
The win adds some heft to the Colonials’ NCAA Tournament case, which was looking a bit shaky entering the game. GW is in the middle of one of the toughest stretches of its season, with its next game coming Wednesday against Saint Joseph’s.
For now, though, Lonergan will enjoy the moment.
“It was nice to finally win here,” Lonergan said.
Where: Siegel Center, Richmond, Va., CBSSN (TV)
When: Saturday, Feb. 5 at 12 p.m.
The more things change, the more they…
OK, you get it. It’s that time of year, folks. GW’s heading down to Richmond for a matchup at VCU. The Rams are atop the Atlantic 10 with a perfect conference record. So much for that adjustment year, head coach Will Wade has VCU on a 12-game winning streak going into the contest.
Here’s what to expect from the game:
The case for the Colonials:
It’s always possible VCU is due for a stinker, but that’s definitely not something for Colonials fans to count on.
Teams with size have fared well against VCU, and GW will have a size advantage in the game. The 6-foot-10 Michael Gilmore and 6-foot-9 Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed will see time, but the majority of VCU’s minutes up front go to Mo Alie-Cox and Justin Tillman, both 6-foot-7. Alie-Cox (9.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game) has been a difficult matchup for GW in the past, but the addition of Tyler Cavanaugh and Yuta Watanabe’s development into a better around-the-rim player (which has been apparent in the last two games, though Watanabe had a tough stretch at the beginning of the conference season) could open up the paint to GW’s advantage.
The Colonials have had the best rebounding margin (with the most offensive rebounds and third-most defensive rebounds) in the league in conference play, while VCU is fifth. The worst-case scenario for GW is VCU getting on a big run in their packed house, and a good performance on the boards should help prevent that and keep things close.
If the game is close, the Colonials will have one thing on their side: free throws. GW has the third-best free throw percentage (75) in conference play while VCU has the worst (67).
The case for the Rams:
VCU is a difficult matchup for GW. The Rams still use essentially the same defensive pressure (9.1 steals per game and a +5.22 turnover margin in conference play, both best in the league) they did under Shaka Smart, but it’s VCU’s offense that may pose the biggest threat. The Rams have averaged an A-10-best 83.8 points per game since conference play began and are outscoring opponents by 15.6 points per game.
Point guard JeQuan Lewis is averaging 11.2 points and 4.8 assists per game after working to become more of a passer during the offseason. He’s critical to the motion and ball-screen work VCU has been difficult to stop with and, as the kind of quick guard GW typically struggles against, will be a huge challenge. He’ll have a speed advantage on Joe McDonald so GW’s bigs will have to lock down the paint to prevent him from driving easily, especially since he’s been near-perfect from the free throw line in conference play.
6-foot-4 senior guard Melvin Johnson is VCU’s top scorer, at 19 points per game, and he’s actually shooting slightly better (44 percent) from beyond the arc than in front of it (43 percent). Head coach Mike Lonergan may handle him with a combination of Patricio Garino and Yuta Watanabe, hoping to limit Johnson’s options with their length. With both Garino and Watanabe on the court, the other would likely take guard Korey Billbury, who’s getting 11.0 points per game to go with 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Still, GW will have to prepare for a lot of different matchups, since Will Wade plays a solid ten-deep. That tenth man, guard Jonathan Williams, still averages 11.9 points per game, which translates to a Rams team that will still be relatively fresh at the end of this one.
The bottom line: A win here would do a lot for GW’s NCAA Tournament resume, but it’s not likely. Recent history, at least, says VCU should win here. Still, the Colonials seem to be trending up, and they’re a scary team when playing to full potential. A sustained 40-minute effort with good team defense and rebounding, plus points at the free throw line, seems like the formula for an upset in this one.
If shooting is an art, it’s one that the Colonials seemed to forget for the entirety of the first quarter on Wednesday night.
The Colonials (19-4, 9-1 A-10) shot 2-for-16 in the first set and could not make up the difference as they lost their first conference game of the season, 76-69, on the road against Fordham (10-12, 5-4 A-10).
Nothing seemed to be working for GW right off the tip. The Colonials missed open jumpers and forced shots they should not have taken. The Rams did not look particularly smooth either, but they were feeding on the Colonials’ mistakes and finding ways to score.
“We spent the whole first quarter shooting jumpers and not getting enough touches inside. If we were moving the ball, getting it inside, and missing those than we would be at least probing the defense. But we didn’t get any easy baskets and we did not get to the free throw line enough,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.
Fordham junior guard Danielle Burns started imposing her presence in the first quarter in a game where she was the dominating force. She scored 10 points out of the team’s 16 in the opening frame while adding four rebounds. Burns went on to score a game-high and career-high 31 points on 78.5 percent shooting while adding seven rebounds.
In the second quarter, graduate student guard Lauren Chase and sophomore guard Bri Cummings showed that the Colonials were not going down easy. Chase was all over the floor, scoring two layups in traffic losing defender after defender. Cummings provided the Colonials with the offensive spark they needed by scoring 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting.
That push was not enough for the Colonials as sophomore forward G’mrice Davis and the Rams extended their lead to 37-27 going into the half. Davis scored 11 points in the second quarter and got the ball in the basket on five consecutive Fordham possessions.
Along with Burns, Davis also had an efficient night. She went 7-for-10 from the floor to finish with 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists.
“We were not sound defensively and Fordham did a great job putting us on our heels. We gave [Burns and Davis] confidence from the beginning and that just spread,” Tsipis said. “We just have to be a better collective team defensively.”
In the beginning of the second half the Colonials showed signs of life. They got out in transition and had an aggressive mentality on the boards. After trailing the Rams in the rebounding category at halftime, GW wound up with a +9 rebounding margin including a +14 mark off the offensive glass.
“We are at best when we are in transition, pushing the ball and getting the floor spread so our posts can run. In the second half we wanted to change the tempo and keep it our way knowing that Fordham wanted to play a structured, half-court game on both ends,” Tsipis said.
This play allowed the Colonials to outscore the Rams 18-11 in the third quarter cutting the Fordham lead to three going into the fourth, 45-48.
The Colonials pulled within one, but were never able to tie the game or go ahead during the matchup. Efficient scoring from Burns and slow play in the last quarter never gave the Colonials an opportunity to come away with the win.
In the final seconds, it appeared that the Colonials had one more opportunity to get the victory. Chase hit a second-chance fade-away three pointer and then was sent to the line the next possession with a chance to make it a four-point game. She made 1-of-2 forcing the Colonials to foul and eventually lead to the defeat.
Wednesday was the fourth game that senior forward Jonquel Jones had to sit out for the Colonials. The Preseason All-American had previously led the Colonials in scoring and rebounding as well as being a focal point of their interior defense. Asked about Jones’ health, Tsipis said that there was “no update, she is still day-to-day.”
Without Jones, Chase has stepped up offensively for the Colonials and been a go-to scorer when they need a basket. In her second straight matchup leading the team in scoring, Chase put up 18 points and eight assists with only one turnover.
“[Chase] is doing a really good job at deciding when to go to the rim and when to get other people shots,” Tsipis said. “She has been putting people in a position to be successful. I also thought she did a wonderful job on the defensive side.”
This loss ends the Colonials 14-game winning streak that dates all the way back to Dec. 6 at Memphis.
The Colonials return to action on Sunday for another road matchup, this time against Richmond (9-13, 2-7 A-10). Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
While the Wizards anguished against Steph Curry and the Warriors down the street, the Colonials got their first win against Davidson as Atlantic 10 rivals in a 79‒69 victory, holding the Wildcats nearly 12 points below their season scoring average.
“Tonight, for the most part, I thought we were pretty focused defensively, talking more and just trying to help each other out and that’s what we should do,” head coach Mike Lonergan said.
The win put GW back on track at home after a double-overtime loss to Richmond last time out in the Smith Center, and began a difficult stretch in the Colonials’ A-10 schedule on a high note. Lonergan said he felt good after the win.
“Much better than I did six days ago,” he said. “[The Richmond loss] was a rough night for me, turning 50 years old, depressing, losing in double-overtime my first [home] loss of the year. It takes me a long time to recover from those games. The losses just kill me so, but it was really about our team defense.”
GW led for most of the second half but didn’t get much separation until around the six-minute mark. Graduate student Alex Mitola, who had thought about a three from the other side of the court but couldn’t get open, dribbled under the basket and turned around for a short jumper from the other side.
Davidson’s leading scorer Jack Gibbs turned it over on their next possession and Tyler Cavanaugh (16 points, six rebounds) hit a catch and shoot three from Patricio Garino (17 points) that put GW up by eight, 68‒60, with 5:54 to play.
The closest Davidson got after that point was when Gibbs drained a three to reach his normal scoring average, 25 points, and cut GW’s lead to 74‒69 with 1:34 left in the game.
But, after a pair of free throws for Cavanaugh, Larsen nabbed a rebound and fedsophomore Yuta Watanabe up the court. The sprinting Watanabe (13 points, six rebounds) slammed it home ‒ his second dunk of the night after a stunning fakeout of forward Peyton Aldridge that put GW up 43-40 early in the second half ‒ and the Colonials led 78‒69, one free throw from Larsen away from the final tally.
Gibbs led all scorers with 25 points, opening up late with a 6-for-12 second-half effort including a few late jumpers that kept the game in question. Yuta Watanabe kept Gibbs quiet in the first half but Davidson’s leading scorer had more success late when Lonergan switched Garino onto him.
“He’s a great player who’s got some tools,” Garino said. “You can’t be guessing with him. If you’re trying to get the 3-pointer out of him, he’s going to drive to the basket, and vice versa. I think the mentality was not letting him go right so often, which was a challenge.”
Garino struggled when Gibbs got space to get around him, but senior forward Kevin Larsen (seven points, six rebounds) was a good helper on Gibbs from inside at times.
Lonergan said he was expecting even more post scoring, but the Colonials were still the dominant team on the interior. It was more with drives than post moves, but GW outscored Davidson 40‒22 in the paint and 18‒11 on second-chance points while winning the rebounding battle 38‒29.
“We thought they were a little inferior on the inside, so we thought we could drive them or get the ball to Kevin or Tyler on the block and let them go to work,” senior point guard Joe McDonald, who had a game-high 10 rebounds, said.
With those good inside shots, GW shot 52 percent for the game to Davidson’s 42 to make up for the Wildcats’ nine 3-pointers. Guard Brian Sullivan had 13 points and Aldridge had 11, but Davidson did not get much help otherwise.
The Colonials went into halftime up 39‒33 after a balanced scoring effort. GW had led by as many as eight midway through the first period, allowed Davidson to pull back ahead at 22‒25, but retook the lead before the break on the strength of a 6‒0 stretch capped by a three – take that, Steph – for Larsen.
By the time Gibbs’ final attempt, which should have been an easy layup, spun around the rim and slipped off of it as the last few seconds ticked away, the Warriors were up 59‒46 Warriors, and Steph Curry had 29 points on 11-for-12 shooting, 7-of-8 on three-pointers.
In that moment, Lonergan was happy to be winning at home. McDonald was happy to get a win heading into a difficult matchup at VCU Saturday. For both of them, the defense was the biggest positive takeaway.
“It’s great for momentum heading into a big game with VCU, especially for the fact that I thought our defense was a lot better,” senior point guard Joe McDonald said.
Tipoff against the Rams is set for noon Saturday.
What: Men’s basketball (16-5, 5-3 A-10) vs. Davidson (12-7, 4-4 A-10)
Where: The Smith Center, Washington, D.C., MASN, SNY (TV)
When: Wednesday, Feb. 3, 7 p.m.
Since Davidson joined the Atlantic 10 conference, the Wildcats have had GW’s number. The Colonials were winless in two matchups last season and will be looking for a fresh start Wednesday night at home.
Here’s what to expect from the game:
The Case for the Colonials:
This year’s Davidson squad has not been as surprisingly-dominant as last year’s version. The Wildcats are 2-5 away from home and are giving up 79.6 points per game.
Scoring margin is usually a good predictor of team strength, and the Wildcats are barely outscoring opponents – by 1.2 points per game – while the Colonials have created more distance at +7.4 points per game.
GW has the biggest matchup advantage inside. Forwards Kevin Larsen and Tyler Cavanaugh should be able to pound the paint and get second chances, while helping around the perimeter on defense. The Colonials play a lot of man defense and may play even more than usual against the Wildcats, but help will be critical for GW, especially to guard against picks.
Sophomore forward Nathan Ekwu is the team’s best shot blocker and most efficient rebounder but is less skilled than Larsen, prone to fouls and turnovers. Outside of Ekwu, Davidson’s forwards are less traditional post players than Larsen or even Cavanaugh.
The Case for the Wildcats:
Davidson is going to score. The Wildcats average an A-10 best 80.8 points per game and have the league’s top scorer in Jack Gibbs, who’s adding 25.5 points per game. They also hit 9.9 three-pointers per game, on average.
On Gibbs, as well as Davidson in general, the task for the Colonials will be more about picking what shots they can live with and taking away the rest than a complete shut-down. If GW struggles to follow the scouting report, as head coach Mike Lonergan has said they have in the past, Davidson could get the good looks that the team does so much damage with.
The extra pass will also be critical to prevent. With so many scorers, (Peyton Aldridge gets 15.7 points per game, Brian Sullivan gets 13.8 and four others get more than five) the Wildcats can go anywhere with the ball. Davidson leads the league in assist/turnover ratio at 1.5 and averages more than 15 assists per game. Guarding to the very end of possessions will be important for the Colonials.
The Bottom Line:
Davidson has some clear strengths, but if the Colonials execute well they should have more weapons to beat the Wildcats with. If GW’s inside game can make Davidson one-dimensional, the Colonials should be able to withstand a few big buckets and still get the win, but this game should say a lot about defense, especially.
What: Women’s Basketball (19-3, 9-0 A-10) vs. Fordham (9-12, 4-4 A-10)
Where: Rose Hill Gym, Bronx, N.Y.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. EST
The Colonials, winners of 14-straight, are travelling north to the Bronx to take on Fordham. GW is the only undefeated team in the A-10 after recent wins against Saint Louis, Davidson, and George Mason.
Fordham is also coming off a win, in its case over Rhode Island, which the team held to a low shooting percentage and picked up 18 offensive rebounds against.
The last time these two teams met up was in the second round of the A-10 tournament last year where the Colonials picked up the 12-point victory. It was one of the two times that GW got the upper hand in the matchup during 2015, both in which the Colonials outrebounded Fordham and came away with double-digit wins.
Here’s what to expect from the game:
The case for the Colonials: The Colonials are the much deeper team in regards to bench play. Sophomore guard Bri Cummings and freshman guard Mei-Lyn Bautista have proven to be important contributors on both sides of the floor.
In Fordham’s last game, the Rams only cycled through a six-player rotation, counting on more than 34 minutes from each starter.
Expect the Colonials to play a deeper roster and run in the transition against Fordham, which should force the Rams to tire quickly.
Along with bench play, GW has had a much higher scoring offense throughout the season. GW boasts the highest scoring average in the league at 73.6 points per game while the Rams sit in last with only 53 points per game.
In the past two games, the Colonials have heated up from behind the arc, hitting 17 combined three-point shots. Against a slow-it-down team like Fordham, it could be a huge advantage if they are able to be a threat from a distance.
Wednesday will likely be the fourth game the Colonials play without the help of senior forward Jonquel Jones. Despite her absence, GW has not shown any signs of slowing down offensively so do not expect this matchup to be any different.
The case for the Rams: Fordham has been very strong so far at home. They are 4-0 in conference games at their own arena compared to 0-4 on the road. Whether it be the energy of the fan base or the comfort of their own court, they will try to continue that streak against the Colonials.
Leading the fight for the Rams is senior forward Samantha Clark. She averages a team-high 12.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in an astounding 36.6 minutes. Clark will be counted on to lock up the paint defensively for the Rams and attempt to deal with the Colonials’ inside-out approach.
Fordham’s slow style allows them to have one of the lowest average points against in the A-10. They only allow their opponents to score 55.6 points per game compared to the Colonials’ 62.3.
On Wednesday, this defensive pressure for the Rams might be the most important piece. When the Colonials are able to shoot over 40 percent from the field they are undefeated and very difficult to keep up with.
The bottom line: This is the Colonials’ game to lose. Their offense is fast-paced and has many different weapons that can attack and overwhelm the Rams. Fordham will need to slow down the entire game and create enough pressure so that the GW offense cannot run properly if they want a chance to pull off the upset at home.
This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Matt Cullen.
The Colonials are known as an inside-out team with one of the most dominant frontcourts in the nation. But on Sunday, due to injury and defensive problems, all that went out the window and three-point shooting became the biggest factor in GW’s win over Saint Louis.
The Colonials shot 8-for-18 from behind the arc and the timing of each shot changed the momentum of the matchup in their favor. Despite shooting a lower percentage and making the same amount of field goals, GW (19-3, 9-0 A-10) was able to embrace the three on its way to an 89-80 victory over the Billikens (17-5, 7-2 A-10).
“I am really pleased with our high level of consistency of sticking with the game plan and also with the adjustments that we were able to make,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “We got contributions at the three-point line from [senior forward] DeLacy Anderson, [freshman guard] Mei-Lyn Bautista as well as [graduate student guard Lauren Chase].”
The game kicked off with lots of energy on both sides but not much production. The Colonials started the game 4-for-15 from the floor including several ill-advised shots. They were able to stay in the game in the first quarter because of good offensive rebounding (six), high-energy defense (five forced turnovers), and a good job taking care of the ball (zero turnovers themselves).
Just under six minutes into the game, Chase pickpocketed a Billiken guard and went the distance for a layup. That sparked the Colonials to go on a 15-2 run in the next four minutes including seven points from Chase, six from Anderson on two three-pointers and a tricky step-back jumper from Bautista.
Chase ended the game with a team-high 19 points and 10 assists, good for her first career double-double as a Colonial.
“It was just a great game, my teammates did a great job of cutting and executing the offense well,” Chase said. “It’s my teammates, it is all attributed to them.”
GW carried a nine-point lead, 24-15, after the first set, did not hold it for very long. The Billikens maintained persistence in getting to the rim, as junior center Sadie Stipanovich and sophomore guard Jenny Vliet had multiple wide-open layups in the first half. Saint Louis pulled the game to within three going into the half by shooting a solid 46 percent from the field and answering every time that the Colonials started a run.
The second half started off just how the Billikens hoped. Stipanovich got two easy baskets and a steal allowed redshirt senior guard Jamesia Price to get a layup that gave Saint Louis their first lead since midway through the first quarter. Just 12 seconds later, junior guard Shannon Cranshaw knocked down a three to swing the momentum the way of the Colonials.
Then, after a missed layup, Bautista knocked down another three to extend the GW lead to five points and send the Smith Center crowd into a frenzy.
“We are not a team that is going to live and die by the three,” Tsipis said. “But, we are a confident group right now and there is an expectation that if you are open and you are a threat that you need to play to your strength.”
The Colonials never gave up that lead, but it was not without a fight. In the third quarter alone Stipanovich scored 12 points on five easy layups and two free throws. It was clear that the Colonials had a matchup problem down low without senior forward Jonquel Jones.
On Sunday, Jones missed her third consecutive game due to an injured shoulder that she suffered against Massachusetts on Jan. 20. The Preseason All-American was leading the nation in rebounding and was the most dangerous player for the Colonials on both sides of the floor.
Her status remains day-to-day, so she does not yet have a planned date to return to action. Tsipis said Jones has remained a leader on the bench and that “getting her healthy is our number one concern right now.”
In the fourth quarter, three pointers were an advantage for SLU. After not making one for the first 30 minutes, the Billikens went 6-of-10 from behind the arc and brought the game within three points.
In less than two minutes, sophomore guard Bri Cummings put the Colonials on her back and scored 7 unanswered points to push the margin out of reach for Saint Louis.
“[Chase] was finding me so it got me a lot of shots close to the rim. That let me get into the flow of things and I got more aggressive attacking the rim,” Cummings said.
The 89-80 win gives the Colonials their 14th successive victory and allows them to stay as the only A-10 team to be undefeated in conference play.
“The next game is always the biggest game for us,” said Chase. “Beating a team like Saint Louis, who beat us last year during the regular season, it is good to get them back. I’m proud of us and the way that we fought today.”
The Colonials will return to action Wednesday where they will travel to the Bronx to take on Fordham. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
After giving up a 10-point second-half lead, the Colonials escaped with a 76–70 victory at George Mason Sunday afternoon.
The Patriots, just 1‒6 in Atlantic 10 play entering the contest, battled all game long in front of a raucous EagleBank Arena crowd, hitting 25 field goals to GW’s 20 and winning the on the boards 47–42.
But GW, with a veteran lineup up against a Mason squad that starts three freshmen, had its experience on display late.
Senior forward Kevin Larsen sank two crucial free throws and put back a missed layup on the next offensive possession to regain a 65‒61 lead in the game’s final minutes that his team would not surrender.
“[George Mason] made a run and I thought we responded,” redshirt junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who posted 15 points and 8 rebounds Sunday, said. “We’ve got good senior leadership and we made the plays down the stretch.”
Senior swingman Patricio Garino led four GW starters who posted double-digit scoring numbers with 19 points, while Larsen added a team-best 11 rebounds en route to his eighth double-double this season.
Once again, GW’s free throw shooting proved pivotal. The team scored nearly 40 percent of its points at the line, going 30-for-36 from the stripe on the day.
“Everyone is making free throws, that’s the confidence of the team,” Garino said. “We know that if we go hard to the rim and get fouled we’re going to get two points.”
GW (16‒5, 5-3 A-10) came out strong, with Cavanaugh knocking down a triple on his team’s first possession. He and Garino would lead the Colonials with nine points each in the frame.
The Colonials jumped to an early 17–11 lead behind good shooting, but their efficiency quickly began to stagnate. The visitors went a subpar 25.7 percent from the field, but George Mason (7–14, 1-7 A-10) wasn’t much better, posting a 26.5 percent clip in the half.
Freshman guard Jordan Roland provided a spark off the bench, netting five points, the only production off the pine in the first half.
But the Patriots battled back with a strong rebounding effort, grabbing 31 boards to GW’s 22 in the first period, and got 10 points on 12 trips to the free throw line.
Freshman guard Otis Livingston II led the charge with two threes and 10 points. Both squads went 3-for-10 from beyond the arc in the frame, but George Mason would prevail on the scoreboard, taking a 31–29 lead into halftime.
Back-to-back three-pointers from graduate student guard Alex Mitola, who led the bench on the day with eight points was part of a 10–0 GW run to open the second half.
“I think we attacked much better in the second half,” Cavanaugh said. “Alex [Mitola] stepped up big and made a couple threes and we don’t win the game without him.”
But like they did all day, George Mason bounced right back.
The Patriots shot 48.5 percent from the field and hit four critical threes in the second frame which allowed them to capture a 61–59 late-game edge.
But the Colonials refused to be rattled. Senior guard Joe McDonald, who finished with five points and three rebounds, drew a foul and hit two at the line to tie the game at 61.
Twenty-two second-half free throws would win the day as GW held on for a bounce back win to move to 16–5.
“Thank God we’re experienced because Mason did a great job and we didn’t play well offensively,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “But when we’re struggling, we get to the free throw line, that’s what we do and we made them pay.”
The Colonials return home Wednesday to host Davidson at 7 p.m.
What: Men’s basketball (15-5, 4-3 A-10) at George Mason (7-13, 1-6 A-10)
When: Sunday, Jan. 31 at noon
Where: EagleBank Arena, Fairfax, Va., NBCSN (TV)
Falling to Richmond in a thrilling double-overtime contest Thursday night, the Colonials took their first loss at the Smith Center in almost a year.
But with a quick trip across the Potomac River Sunday afternoon, men’s basketball looks to get back on track after a turbulent start to conference play, which has left them tied for fourth place in the Atlantic 10.
George Mason, however, sits at the bottom of the league with just one A-10 win, and six losses, under its belt thus far. The Patriots, under the direction of new head coach Dave Paulsen, have lost two straight and are in desperate need of a spark to turn their season around.
GW holds a 14-2 edge in the all-time series between its crosstown rival and won 67-51 in its last trip to Fairfax in 2015. Sunday’s game will be the first of two meetings between the programs this year, before the Patriots visit the nation’s capital on March 1.
The case for the Colonials:
Despite allowing a season-high 98 points in its loss to the Spiders, GW’s defense will face a much less formidable offense in the Patriots. Whereas Richmond had one of the most high-powered offenses in the conference, George Mason averages the second-least amount of points in the A-10 at 65.3 per game.
The Colonials’ offense also was not quiet during Thursday’s defeat. Led by seniors Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino who had a team-high 17 points each, all five starters scored in double-figures against Richmond.
Redshirt junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh, the only GW starter the Patriots have not seen before, leads the Colonials with a team-best average of 17.0 points per game, while Larsen adds a team-high 8.2 boards per game.
The visitors are a significantly better shooting team than George Mason, which starts three freshmen guards. A more experienced, proficient GW roster seems poised to overpower its opponent from outside and in the paint and snag a crucial fifth A-10 victory.
The case for the Patriots:
While George Mason remains in somewhat of a rebuilding phase, bringing on Paulsen and six freshmen this past offseason, they have recorded a few notable wins already this season.
The Patriots won a 71-68 overtime decision over Oklahoma State on Nov. 20, while the 10-10 Cowboys went on to upset No. 3 Kansas earlier this month. On Jan. 17, the squad also took down Saint Louis 92-79 on the road, whereas GW lost to the Billikens in Chaifetz Arena just two weeks prior.
The team is led by junior guard Marquise Moore, who averages a team-high 12.6 points and 3.4 assists per game. Freshman guard Otis Livingston II and senior forward Marko Gujanicic also provide versatility on offense, despite a team field goal percentage of 41.3 percent, second-worst in the A-10.
One area of play the Patriots have dominated this year is rebounding. Six-foot-eleven-inch senior center Shevon Thompson far and away leads the league with an average of 10.2 rebounds per game, to guide an A-10-best team rebounding margin of 7.3 to GW’s second-best 6.2.
The bottom line:
George Mason will be able to keep it closer than expected if it can continue to own the glass and exploit a GW defense that may have lost some confidence after almost allowing Richmond to reach triple digits.
But this is the Colonials game to win. For a team that finished non-conference play at 11-2, but now finds itself at only 15-5, a strong response to yet another disheartening loss will be key to regaining its dwindling momentum down the stretch.