Your Guide to GW sports

Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 11:54 p.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball at Seton Hall

What: Men’s basketball (3-1) vs. Seton Hall (4-0)
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.
When: Saturday, Nov. 29 at 4 p.m.

Two evenly matched teams – projections have this a one-possession game – will go strength-on-strength Saturday: GW’s stingy defense against a Seton Hall offense that has scored 80 points in back-to-back games.

The Pirates sail home from the Virgin Islands with the Paradise Jam title in hand, looking to prove their success was not merely because of a bracket lampooning at the tournament, which matched them up with Nevada, Gardner Webb and Illinois State. Meanwhile, the Colonials will try to play more smoothly together than they did against Longwood on Wednesday.

The Pirates are slightly favored at home, but the game will likely come down to which squad is able to recover quickly from its last game and bring energy to the Prudential Center.

The case for Seton Hall:
After playing just three days before, fatigue may work against the Colonials. Head coach Mike Lonergan lamented having to give his starters serious minutes in the Longwood game, which was more competitive than anticipated. Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald each played over 30 minutes.

Junior Sterling Gibbs has been on fire for the Pirates, putting up a 40-spot in the Paradise Jam finale. The guard is averaging 22 points per game – and any player shooting .542, .632 from beyond the arc and .889 from the charity stripe is going to be tough to stop.

Highly touted freshman prospect Isaiah Whitehead seems to be getting his sea legs, scoring 18 points with six assists against Illinois State, and the guard combo of Whitehead and Gibbs will be a tough matchup for the GW backcourt.

The case for GW:
The inside game has been shaky at times during this young season for GW, but it should have the advantage on Saturday.

Freshman Angel Delgado is averaging over 10 points per game, but was shut down in the Pirates’ most recent contest where the freshman forward scored just one point. The combination of Kevin Larsen, John Kopriva and Yuta Watanabe’s versatility will be tough for Delgado along with Brandon Mobley and Rashed Anthony to guard.

Through four games, the Pirates have been averaging a better shooting percentage, .467, on three-pointers than on two-point field goals, where they are shooting .438. That sharp-shooting success could run smack into the Colonials’ stellar three-point defense, which is allowing opponents just three triples per game on .214 shooting.

Seton Hall has a talented crop of freshmen, including Whitehead and Delgado, but GW’s maturity advantage should also come in handy both as a team that starts more upperclassmen and has already faced tough competition this season. One thing the Colonials have yet to do is clamp down with a big run when it actually matters, and Saturday could change that if Seton Hall’s rookies get flustered with the new level of competition.

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Updated: Nov. 27, 2014 at 1:19 p.m.

On the night before Thanksgiving, the Colonials (3-1) filled up on second-half points and saw five players carve their way to double figures, topping Longwood (2-4) after scoring 55 points in the second half.

But the game was not without its frustrations for head coach Mike Lonergan, as the Lancers hung around in the first half.

“I told my guys this is one film I’m not going to watch, and that’s hard for me,” Lonergan said.“I think we can be so good, but we just have to put our emphasis back on rebounding and on defense and not on scoring or individual things, and we’ve got to become a team again. Tonight was the first night, even our bench, I heard them saying ‘pass the ball.’”

Senior forward John Kopriva drives to the basket in an exhibition game earlier this season. Kopriva had a career night Wednesday as the Colonials topped Longwood 91-66. | Hatchet File Photo.

Senior forward John Kopriva drives to the basket in an exhibition game earlier this season. Kopriva had a career night Wednesday as the Colonials topped Longwood 91-66. Hatchet File Photo.

But while the pieces weren’t always clicking together, the 91-66 win did come with a special accolade for senior forward John Kopriva, sometimes the forgotten man in GW’s starting five, who had a career night with 19 points and six rebounds.

He passed his career total with a Kevin Larsen-assisted layup that made it 67-55 and got him a shot at an extra point, which he made. Kopriva was 6-9 from the line and was greeted by a standing, clapping group of teammates as he went to the pine with less than three minutes to play.

“I was feeling it for a little bit. Kev [Larsen] hit me right away to start it off and got a couple quick buckets and that always helps. You start getting into a rhythm. I’ve just gotta be able to do it again. It can’t be a one-time thing,” Kopriva said. “It felt good to put the ball in the basket.”

He put it in six times on eight attempts from the field, even adding a three in the first half, which he followed with a trip to the line after grabbing his own offensive rebound.

Kopriva’s frontcourt mate, Larsen, also had a strong night after a quiet first half. Though the Colonials’ first play gave Larsen the ball inside on a pass from junior point guard Joe McDonald, the junior forward scored just four points before halftime.

But Larsen came out of the lockers with more aggression, getting to the line and having, as Lonergan said, “his way inside,” to finish the game with 16 points, three rebounds and four assists.

He smashed a two-handed dunk and followed up with a rare three-pointer – he had his first in the team’s season opener – jogging down the sideline flashing the three point symbol after draining the triple.

Larsen and the rest of the Colonials, however, could not contain Longwood center Lotanna Nwogbo. Nwogbo did the vast majority of the scoring for the Lancers, scoring a game-high 25 points. He didn’t miss from the field until late in the second half, ending the night on 10-11 scoring.

“It was his strength. It’s no secret we’re not really that big inside. He was able to post John up really close to the basket,” Lonergan said. “We were going to double him every time and we couldn’t get the double there quick enough. And he got his confidence early, he got to the rim.”

But Nwogbo was one of just two Longwood players to finish in double figures. Even players who did not reach double figures in scoring filled the stat sheet for GW, with McDonald adding 10 rebounds and seven assists to his eight points, grabbing some long rebounds but also often beating larger players off the glass inside. He helped GW out-rebound Longwood 40-29 in the game, with Lonergan putting him on triple-double watch for the season.

“I mean if he made his free throws,” Lonergan quipped. “I tell you what, he’ll get one [triple double]. Rebounds you would think the hardest thing and he’s been there a bunch of times.”

“Joe’s just manhandling people at 6-foot-1 so it’s fun to watch him,” he said.

McDonald’s backup, sophomore Nick Griffin, brought the heat from downtown, scoring 11 points in the game bolstered by 2-3 shooting from beyond the arc and a 5-6 mark from the free throw line. GW ended the game shooting nearly 52 percent from the field.

The Colonials also showed signs of improvement at the free throw line, shooting nearly 70 percent from the stripe, where they added 27 points to Longwood’s 11 on the Lancers’ 19 attempts.

Despite the win, Lonergan said he was not able to rest his starters as much as he had hoped while the game was still competitive. GW has a quick turnaround as team heads on the road to play Seton Hall on Saturday at 4 p.m.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Larsen’s first three pointer came in the team’s exhibition game this season. It was during the season opener. We regret this error.

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Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014 9:04 p.m.

Preview: GW men’s basketball vs. Longwood

Joe McDonald played 38 minutes in GW's first loss of the season to UVA on Friday night, more than any other GW player. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Joe McDonald played 38 minutes in the Colonials’ first loss of the season to UVA on Friday night, more than any other GW player. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

What: GW (2-1) vs. Longwood (2-3)
Where: Smith Center
When: Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m.

After then-No. 9 Virginia’s stifling, suffocating defense proved too much on the road last Friday, the Colonials will look for a bounce-back win against a much weaker team that plays a much faster style of basketball.

Longwood, which went 8-24 last season, may not always be the team doing the scoring, but either the Lancers or their opponents have topped 70 points in every game they have played this year, ranking 63rd in Division I in adjusted tempo, according to the Ken Pomoroy ratings. The Colonials, on the other hand, are playing a middle-of-the-pack 161st in tempo, but are riding a NCAA 12th-best scoring defense.

The game should serve as a tune-up, particularly for players like Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino who were shut down by the Cavaliers, before the team heads into a much more competitive Thanksgiving break road matchup against Seton Hall on Saturday.

The case for Longwood:
Longwood has gotten a boost from Tulane transfer Lotanna Nwogbo, a center who is averaging nearly 15 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting 60 percent from the field.

That means GW’s post presence, which was strangely missing against Virginia, will be challenged more than other areas of the game. Even Nwogbo should be overmatched by a player like Larsen, but Longwood should put up enough of a fight inside to provide a barometer for how the Colonials respond to their first loss.

The Lancers do have recent historical success against GW, having won the previous matchup in 2009 on their home court 80-78.

The case for GW:
If the Lancers continue to play fast, GW’s defense should be able to turn that speed into a frenzy of turnovers. Longwood is averaging nearly 20 per game so far, including over 11 steals per game.

The Colonials also have a height advantage at nearly every matchup and should be able to dominate the game physically. The Lancers have struggled to rebound, where GW owns a 40.7-34 advantage over opponents, so the Colonials should be able to turn Longwood’s pace into plenty of possessions.

That advantage should also help revive the passing game as GW should be able to get plenty of assists on plays over and around Longwood.

The Lancers are overmatched in this game, so the measuring stick may become how much fire it seems like the team has after the Virginia game, as well as how much rest head coach Mike Lonergan can give his starters before suiting up at Seton Hall just three days later.

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After watching a halftime lead slip away against No. 9 Maryland on Saturday, GW’s game against Grambling State was never in question: The Colonials cruised to an easy victory over Grambling State, beating the Tigers 89-51.

The Colonials rode a strong shooting game to the win, making nearly 55 percent of their field-goal attempts and finishing with four players scoring in double digits.

The game plan was familiar: GW’s forwards led the team for most of the game. Freshman Kelli Prange and sophomore Caira Washington dominated the paint, using a size advantage to overpower Grambling State. Forty of the Colonials’ points came from inside the paint, and GW out-rebounded the Tigers 56-27.

Freshman forward Caira Washington jumps for a lay up in GW's 89-51 win over Grambling State on Monday afternoon. Washington recorded her second double-double of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Freshman forward Caira Washington jumps for a layup in GW’s 89-51 win over Grambling State on Monday. Washington recorded her second double-double of the season with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Prange, who tied Grambling State’s Yosha Watson for a game-high 23 points, tied sophomore Shannon Cranshaw for the most minutes off the bench for GW, continuing to show confidence as a role player in the offense.

“As far as 15 feet and out, [Prange is] shooting the best percentage of anybody on our team right now, and there’s no hesitation,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “Some freshmen, sometimes you have to beg and plead for them to shoot. I don’t have to tell Kelly Prange to take a shot. She’s ready to shoot it.”

Continuing her streak of strong games, Washington earned her second double-double in a row, with 17 points and 13 rebounds, five of them offensive. She was also 5-6 from the free throw line.

“To see Caira get on the offensive glass, to see Caira get to the line and be able to finish at the line, you can see that confidence rising in her,” Tsipis said.

Forward Jonquel Jones was a rebound short of a double-double herself, scoring 10 points.

GW’s bench also saw significant playing time. Besides Prange’s presence in the post, junior Aaliyah Brown was deadly from beyond the arc in the first half, hitting three of three in the first and scoring 11 points overall. GW hit over 35 percent of their shots from downtown.

The one concern for the Colonials was turnovers. Like their game against Maryland, GW struggled to hold onto the ball, with 26 turnovers on the game, though those missteps often were the flipside of a strong passing game. GW dished out a season-high 26 assists.

“We’ve got to help each other,” Tsipis said. “At times tonight, when the extra pass was contagious, all of a sudden we tried to make the extra pass to the extra pass when it was not necessarily there.”

Looking ahead, the Colonials will spend Thanksgiving in the Bahamas competing in the Junaknoo Jam. Washington said she hopes the team learns from its play against Grambling State before the tournament.

“It wasn’t the best win. We could’ve played much better and cleaned up a bunch of turnovers,” she said. “When we go to the Bahamas, we have to be much stronger and much more physical.”

Tsipis added that the way GW mixed up defenses in the win over Grambling would be helpful preparation for the upcoming tournament.

The Colonials’ first game in the Bahamas will be Friday, Nov. 28 against North Carolina State, which is 4-0 on the season.

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Junior Bogdan Petkovic attempts to toss the ball past a Bucknell defender in a game earlier this season.

Junior Bogdan Petkovic attempts to toss the ball past a Bucknell defender in a game earlier this season.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rob Bartichak.

Men’s water polo’s season ended Sunday in a 14-13 loss to Harvard to finish eighth at the Collegiate Water Polo Association Championships.

The Colonials came close, but never had the lead after a five goal first quarter pushed the Crimson ahead.

“We allowed Harvard to get a few too many goals to start off with which was tough to overcome,” said head coach Scott Reed. “But we had a great opportunity to overcome it but we fell short in the end.”

Junior Bogdan Petkovic led the Colonials offensively, scoring six goals and adding one assist. Fellow junior Connor Dillon recorded six saves in net for GW.

GW had a chance to tie the game with the last shot in the final seconds, but Petkovic’s chance went over the crossbar.

Petkovic’s six goals today gave him the team lead with 13 total goals on the weekend. Freshman Pierce Deamer finished a close second with 12 goals. Dillon stopped a total of 32 shots in the Colonials’ four games.

“Bogdan’s been playing out of his mind,” Reed said. “We just needed some other guys to step up but he just had a fantastic tournament.”

The Colonials now head into the offseason, and will graduate a total five seniors including Ridvan Pehlivan and Brian Mojica who have now played their last games for GW.

“We always want to finish out with a win,” Reed said. “But the seniors put a good four years in of hard work and gave a lot to this program.”

Reed said he plans on stressing defensive play for the offseason work with the returning players.

The team finished 1-3 this weekend, bringing their overall record to 13-15.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Peter Hoegler.

For the second day in a row, a GW basketball team saw a halftime lead over a top-10 team slip away as the opposition showed its true colors.

The Colonials still made a game of it against a squad fresh off a Final Four run. But after shooting a remarkable 50 percent from the field in the first half, women’s basketball could not keep up with No. 9 Maryland as the Terps dictated the tempo and dealt the Colonials a 75-65 loss Saturday.

“I think the game today was back and forth, but in the second half, you saw a confidence in this Maryland team,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “We want to play the best, so playing a team like Maryland not only has us ready for the A-10 but also our goal of playing in the tournament.”

In the end, Maryland’s pace was too fast. GW committed 22 turnovers, which the Terps turned into 19 points, and was beaten in fast break points 14-6.

In the first half, neither team was able to separate from each other. GW held a 10-6 lead in the opening five minutes, but other than that, neither team could take a considerable margin as the game went through nine lead changes and seven ties.

But the first and second halves were like night and day. Maryland’s guards came out of the locker room much more aggressive on the offensive end, attacking the rim at almost every opportunity. The Terrapin backcourt put up 38 shots in the second half.

GW failed to counter this combativeness and instead became more careless on and off the ball, which led to seven turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the second half and allowed Maryland to solidify the lead.

Senior Chakecia Miller dribbles past the Maryland defense. The Colonials fell to the Terrapins 65-75 at the Smith Center on Saturday. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer

Senior Chakecia Miller dribbles past the Maryland defense. The Colonials fell to the Terrapins 65-75 at the Smith Center on Saturday. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer

In the second, Maryland attacked the paint, finding easy looks to shoot 60 percent in the final half. Defensively, the Terps used a tenacious zone defense to drive down GW’s shooting percentage, which, though not bad at 38 percent, was 12 points below their first half mark.

As they dominated inside, the Colonials were left fouling as Maryland infiltrated the rim. The Terps finished the game with 28 free throw attempts compared to GW’s nine.

“Maryland was aggressive against our man-to-man defense,” Tsipis said. “Off the dribble, they asserted themselves and they were able to put points on the board. On the offensive end, we got stagnant at times and we have to do a better job of spacing and not settling for threes.”

After sitting out for three games, junior Jonquel Jones led the team with 18 points and added 10 rebounds. Jones’ height made an impact underneath the basket, altering a few Maryland shots and coming down with rebounds when needed. With the help of Jones and sophomore Caira Washington, who equaled Jones’ 10 rebounds, the Colonials out-rebounded the Terrapins 39-36 and 14-9 on the offensive boards, which translated to a 14-7 edge in second chance points.

Beyond competing against a high-ranked team, the return of Jones was a welcome outcome of the game for GW, reminding the Colonials what they had missed during her absence.

With the loss, the Colonials fall to 2-2 on the season and now have to re-group to get back on a winning streak before they take on Grambling State at the Smith Center on Monday.

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Freshman Yuta Watanabe charges into the paint at the John Paul Jones Center in Charlottesville, Va on Friday. The Colonials were dealt their first loss of the season by the Cavaliers, losing 59-42. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Freshman Yuta Watanabe charges into the paint at the John Paul Jones Center in Charlottesville, Va. on Friday. The Cavaliers dealt the Colonials their first loss of the season. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

It happened over and over again.

On nearly every GW possession, the crowd cheers grew from a rumble to a roar as the shot clock wound down and the Colonials dribbled around Virginia’s packline defense, unable to penetrate, and turned the ball over or had to settle for a contested jumper.

GW gave the No. 9-ranked Cavaliers a scare at halftime, but as the grind-it-out game went on, the Colonials could not find the basket, taking their first loss of the season 59-42 on the road Friday night.

Head coach Mike Lonergan summed it up simply: “No moral victories. We wanted to play much better. It’s a 40-minute game,” he said.

“It definitely seemed like a whole different team in the second half,” junior point guard Joe McDonald said. “We didn’t respond well to that.”

The Cavaliers, who ranked third in the nation in field goal percentage defense entering the game, saw the Colonials shoot nearly 46 percent in the first half. But in the second half, the 26-22 halftime lead faded away as Virginia’s shooting heated up and GW’s cooled off. The game ended with the Cavaliers shooting over 42 percent from the field, while GW shot under 33 percent in the game.

The packline defense was so airtight at times that it was difficult to imagine how the scuffmarks on the painted area ever got there.

“It kind of wears you down. Shots that you would normally look for and get against other teams, they’re not there,” said junior guard Kethan Savage, who lead GW with 13 points. “They take you out of your stuff and that presented some problems for us.”

In the second half, Virginia started to feed off the paint where they outscored the Colonials 42-24. Though GW out-rebounded the Cavaliers 17-16 in the first half, the game ended with Virginia owning the rebounding edge 41-28.

Every missed shot seemed to turn into an offensive rebound, with GW losing in second-chance points 18-8, and Lonergan described senior forward Darion Atkins as “playing volleyball on the backboards.”

Meanwhile, the Colonials shot just 20 percent in the second half.

“Anything in the paint that seemed to fall in the first half wasn’t in the second half. Their hands are active. It’s definitely an eye opener for us,” McDonald said.

If the paint was tough to get to for GW, the free throw line was tougher. The Colonials took just nine shots from the charity stripe, making six of them. Virginia was 10-16.

Kevin Larsen, normally a stat sheet filler for GW, was 1-3 from the field for two points with just three rebounds.

Virginia head coach Tony Bennett echoed advice he said his father once gave him: “You should never let a good big man beat you,” Bennett said. He said his team went after Larsen, trying to trap him and drive at him when he did get catches.

“They doubled him and he’s the best passing big man I’ve ever had. I was actually hoping they’d double him. Usually he picks that apart,” Lonergan said. “Those turnovers and things, I think that affected him on the glass.”

While Larsen struggled, his former teammate at Montrose Christian, Justin Anderson, did it all for the Cavaliers. His eight points were double that of Virginia’s next best scorer at the half, and he was the only player shooting above 50 percent going into halftime 4-7. He was yet again Virginia’s top scorer in the game, ending the game with 18 points.

On one play, Anderson dunked in the ball coming down after it caromed off the basket after a missed three by Nolte to make it 40-34 Virginia and bring a sea of orange and blue to its feet.

Yuta Watanabe continued to impress for GW, hitting a pair of threes on his way to a 10-point, five-rebound night. The freshman showed off his defense on a steal in the first half, managing to use his long arms without fouling.

The two teams had not played each other since 2004, when the Cavaliers beat the Colonials in the first round of the NIT, which was also played in Charlottesville.

But they had seen each other more recently. The last time GW and Virginia were in the same building was last March, in Raleigh, N.C., when the Cavaliers played their first game on a run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament while the Colonials tasted defeat in their only game in the Big Dance.

Having once again taken the loss, GW will turn to prepare for a Wednesday night matchup against Longwood at home at 7 p.m.

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Senior Chakecia Miller drives past a Bowie State defender on Wednesday. Miller scored 10 points in GW's home opener win. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Senior Chakecia Miller drives past a Bowie State defender Wednesday. Miller scored 10 points in GW’s home opener win. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Alex Kist.

Through three games, GW has the Atlantic 10’s best point margin, clocking in at nearly 14 points more per game than opponents.

More noteworthy, though, is that the team is doing it while shooting in the middle of the pack, seventh in the conference with a 37 percent mark from the field.

While the team is clearly scoring, it isn’t sharp-shooting its way to success. Instead, GW is using an active defense to fuel its offense and filling the stat sheet, especially with a strong perimeter defense. That’s what the team did in its home opener Wednesday, when GW overpowered Bowie State (Division II) 88-45.

The Colonials’ game plan was to field a multi-dimensional defense: boxing out in the paint and forcing turnovers around the perimeter. GW caused 28 Bowie State turnovers during the game and scored 31 points off the extra possessions.

“I thought we were active defensively. We pushed in transition how we liked, we attacked. We didn’t allow them to get set in a defense even when they were trying to get in the zone early on because of how the posts were running, how the wings were running,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.

The Colonials amassed more than triple the steals of their opponent, forcing the team to rely on scoring in the paint, where Bowie State was only outscored 28-34, but refusing them anything else. GW stole the ball 19 times to Bowie State’s six.

That was perhaps to be expected: The Colonials also lead the league in steals, averaging over 13 per game, nearly three more than the second-ranked team, VCU. GW is also ranked second in turnover margin, getting four more than they give per game.

Those numbers illustrate that, to date, the perimeter defense has been airtight, especially in protecting the three pointer. Bowie State made just one of seven attempts from downtown, while American made just one of 11 attempts.

There’s definitely a flip side: In GW’s sole loss against Florida Gulf Coast University, the Eagles shot nearly 50 percent from beyond the arc and made seven threes, a critical component of the team’s win over the Colonials.

Lauren Chase File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Lauren Chase had 10 assists in GW’s home opener win. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

“We have been able to chase people off the three point line,” Tsipis said. “We are making people shoot contested threes, which leads to a long shot or long rebound that can really help us get out and get in transition.”

Senior Lauren Chase acted as the floor general, completing 10 assists by reading the floor and feeding the post. Tsipis said she made great decisions and achieved his goal of 10 assists, hitting seven within the first 10 minutes of play.

When the Colonials seek revenge Saturday against No. 9 Maryland for the Terps’ blowout win over GW last year, Tsipis said the team will focus on staying steady at the line, minimizing fouls and continuing fast transitions.

“We need to be able to guard better with our feet. We are still putting arms on people and we fouled a couple jump shooters tonight,” Tsipis said.

Against a top team like the Terps, foul trouble could spell the GW’s demise. But more important, perhaps, could be the Colonials’ ability to continue making the outside unfriendly territory as the team faces its first true test at home. Tip-off is Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

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Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 12:41 p.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball vs. No. 9 Virginia

Junior Joe McDonald drives to the net in GW's win over Rutgers on Sunday. The Colonials will take on No. 9 Virginia on Friday and would generate serious top-25 buzz if they took down the Cavaliers. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Junior Joe McDonald drives to the net in GW’s win over Rutgers on Sunday. The Colonials will take on No. 9 Virginia on Friday and would generate serious top-25 buzz if they took down the Cavaliers. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

What: Men’s basketball vs. No. 9 Virginia

Where: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va., ESPN3/WatchESPN

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Just two games into the regular season, the Colonials will get perhaps their toughest test of the entire year, facing No. 9 Virginia on the road in the opening game of a home-and-home agreement announced last April.

The Cavaliers have started the regular season 3-0, coming off a season in which they won both the ACC regular season and championship en route to a Sweet 16 appearance. The Colonials have likewise yet to suffer their first loss of the season, entering the game with a 2-0 record.

For both teams, the game will be the first true challenge, though Virginia is still the clear favorite. A win for GW would likely generate serious top-25 buzz for the team and, either way, questions will be answered about both squads Friday.

The Colonial Army is taking advantage of the area rivalry and is bussing GW fans to the game. Several players will also see familiar faces on the court: Junior swingman Justin Anderson played with Kevin Larsen at Montrose Christian School, and senior forward Darion Atkins was a teammate of Joe McDonald’s at the Landon School.

The case for Virginia:
Virginia is off to its best start in six years under head coach Tony Bennett and have posted an average margin of victory of 25.3 points in three games.

The weak spot for Virginia so far has been in guarding players from long range. In each of the team’s three wins, one opposing player got hot from downtown. But against GW, which head coach Mike Lonergan has said is not a strong three-point-shooting team, Virginia may catch a long-range break – unless Nick Griffin gets a streak going at exactly the right time.

Depth is also in the home team’s favor. Despite a packed schedule at the start of the season, the Cavaliers should be well rested as no player in the team’s deep lineup saw more than 25 minutes of playing time on Tuesday in a win against South Carolina State.

Virginia has the ability to choose between junior center Mike Tobey and Atkins to start alongside Anderson, redshirt junior forward Anthony Gill, redshirt junior guard Malcom Brogdon and sophomore point guard London Perrantes, depending on matchups.

The Colonials, meanwhile, will have to shorten their bench to keep pace with a top opponent. Yuta Watanabe and Nick Griffin look like reliable options to soak up some minutes early, and Darian Bryant looks not too far off, but the GW bench may run just eight deep Friday.

The case for GW:
While the Colonials will have had nearly a week of rest since playing Rutgers last Sunday, the Cavs will have had just three days and will be suiting up for the fourth time in eight days.

After shedding 15 pounds during the offseason, a trimmer Anderson has been a leading scorer in each of the Cavaliers’ first three games. The junior swingman will test Patricio Garino, but GW should feel confident in Garino’s stellar defense matching up against Anderson who, like Garino, is a threat above the rim.

McDonald and Perrantes also match up well at the one. Perrantes is skilled but has not been the scorer McDonald has been, averaging 5.5 points per game last season and averaging five points and 1.5 rebounds in two games this year. McDonald is averaging 11.5 points per game thus far.

GW’s ability to rebound and augment rebounding numbers from the guard slots could also help prevent Virginia’s physical game inside from getting the Cavaliers on a roll. The Colonials are averaging 47 rebounds per game through two games, while Virginia is averaging 41.7.

The Colonials enter the game with zero room for error, but if the shots fall against Virginia’s strong defense, keeping up with the Cavs would be something to remember come March.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rob Bartnichak.

Women’s basketball dug deep through its depth chart on the way to an 88-45 crushing of Bowie State (Division II) in GW’s home opener Wednesday, moving to 2-1 with its second consecutive win.

GW scored 46 points off the bench and 37 from freshmen players, who saw significant playing time. Sophomore Caira Washington led the Colonials with 13 points and added five rebounds, while freshman Kelli Prange led the team with nine rebounds.

“An opportunity in your home opener to get everybody involved, our freshman, their first points of the year, is important,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said.

GW led in every major team category, scoring 34 points in the paint, 31 off 28 turnovers, 17 second-chance points and 20 fast-break points. The team shot 43.5 percent from the field and 29 percent from beyond the arc.

Washington said the success scoring off turnovers was particularly important, and that it hints at the shape of the team’s identity this season.

“We’re a team that wants to get up and go, and that starts on defense,” Washington said. “We pressure the ball and come in on transition.”

Washington was able to play 20 minutes and fouled just once, unlike her four against American that barred Tsipis from using her in more than 13 minutes of the game, and Tsipis said staying out of foul trouble was key to the entire Colonials defense.

Bowie State shot only 14.3 percent from three-point range, and Tsipis praised the defense for its smart play and ability to avoid fouling.

“It has to be the backbone of our team,” Tsipis said. “Tonight, whether it was a press or a half court, the understanding of not sending people to the line was a huge key and gave people confidence.”

Washington, who was selected to the Preseason Atlantic 10 Second Team, almost tripled her season point total after scoring only five against American and being held scoreless against Florida Gulf Coast.

Senior Chakecia Miller drives past a Bowie State defender on Wednesday. Miller scored 10 points in GW's home opener win. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Senior Chakecia Miller drives past a Bowie State defender on Wednesday. Miller scored 10 points in GW’s home-opener win. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

“I can bring more to the team than scoring,” Washington said. “Those two games, I still rebounded and worked to get my teammates open, but today I was much more active.”

Senior Lauren Chase was the only player in the game to record 10 assists, which Tsipis said was a goal he had set for her.

GW was able to start the game off fast with an impressive first half. The Colonials jumped out to a 22-6 lead in the first four minutes, and only turned the ball over a total of four times in the opening frame.

“We started with a great amount of intensity, and I thought we were active defensively,” Tsipis said. “We pushed in transition how we like and we didn’t allow them to get set in a defense.”

GW shot 44 percent in the first half and 35.7 percent from three-point range. Senior Chakecia Miller led the Colonials with 10 points before halftime, with freshman Mia Farmer in second with nine on three three-pointers.

The Colonials padded their first half lead not just with shooting, but also size in the paint and on the boards. GW out-rebounded BSU 27-20, scored 20 points in the paint and scored 15 on the second chance.

With the win, GW now looks to Saturday for a matchup against No. 9 Maryland in the Smith Center. Tsipis said Preseason A-10 First Team Selection junior Jonquel Jones is set to return Saturday, but is unsure what her role will be.

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