The last three times the Colonials stepped onto the court in the Smith Center, they struggled to present a dominant front at home.
But GW (5-8) closed 2011 with a bang, falling in line with head coach Mike Lonergan’s stated desire to play strong in the Colonials’ house with a 77-59 victory over Delaware State. The win snapped a seven-game GW losing streak, and was the Colonials’ first victory since Nov. 23.
After a series of games that saw GW play a lackluster first half, the Colonials entered the break against Delaware State with a 10-point lead, guided by 39.4 shooting from the field and an 11-point, three assists first half from junior guard Lasan Kromah.
The Hornets’ shooting closely mirrored the Colonials’, posting a 38.1 shooting percentage on the first, but it was GW’s defense that established the rhythm before the break. The Colonials held Delaware State to just 10 points in the paint, only four points off turnovers, zero fast break points- and effectively silenced the Hornets’ bench in the first, holding them to just seven points compared to GW’s 13.
Scoring runs have dominated play for the Colonials this season, and Saturday’s game was no different- except GW was executing the run rather than falling victim to a scoring salvo. The Colonials closed the first half on a 15-8 run, entering the break with serious momentum capped by a dunk slammed home from graduate student forward Jabari Edwards.
GW didn’t lose its drive in the second half, opening play after halftime with a 26-8 run that cemented its first victory since November. The Colonials shot 58.1 percent from the field in the second, going two-of-two from the line to add a 100 percent free throw average.
The Hornets were unable to complete, going just 46.2 percent from the field. GW again held Delaware State to just 10 points in the paint and zero fast break points, further silencing the Hornets on points off turnovers, with the Colonials boasting a 15-4 advantage on the second.
The game was full of positives for the Colonials, including a return to last year’s form for senior guard Tony Taylor, who lead GW with 20 points, three boards and three assists. Kromah totaled 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and presented a solid defensive performance, grabbing three steals and slamming home three blocks. Edwards set a new career-high, adding 11 points to hit double-digits for the first time in his career as a Colonial, and grabbing nine rebounds. Freshman forward John Kopriva posted 10 points, and junior guard Bryan Bynes returned to action for GW after missing two games with a shoulder injury, adding four points, four assists and three steals in 18 minutes of action.
Next, GW will look to carry the momentum from its commanding victory to open conference play, heading to St. Bonaventure Jan. 4. Tip is set for 7 p.m.