This post was written by Hatchet Staff Writer Daniel Wright.
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio- Just 17 seconds into the second half of the Colonials’ Progressive CBE Classic subregional matchup against Bowling Green, graduate student forward Jabari Edwards kicked out a low-post pass to wide open junior guard Lasan Kromah behind the three point line. Kromah pulled up for the three, draining the shot and giving the Colonials a 38-34 lead over the Falcons.
The play was almost identical to the shot sophomore forward Nemanja Mikic made the night before against Austin Peay, when Edwards drew a double team and sent out a pass to Mikic on the perimeter just 18 seconds into the half.
But unlike Tuesday night, GW didn’t allow BGSU a chance to come back from their score. Kromah went on to hit three more three pointers in just over four minutes, pushing the Colonials to a 16-2 run that crushed the Falcons’ chances of a second half comeback. After a night shooting just one for six from the field, Kromah finished with 21 points Wednesday, 17 of them coming in the second half.
“Just seeing the ball go through the basket gave me a little confidence,” Kromah said. “I was open and I was feeling it, so I kept shooting. After that shot, everybody had momentum and energy, and everybody was on. It felt good to play like that.”
GW (4-1) went on to outscore host Bowling Green by 20 points in the second half, finishing with a 77-56 victory, sweeping their three games in as many days in Ohio.
After what head coach Mike Lonergan dubbed “an ugly first half,” where GW turned the ball over eight times for the third consecutive half, the Colonials tightened up defensively in the second, holding Bowling Green to just 30 percent shooting from the field. For their own part, the Colonials shot a blistering 65.4 percent in the second half, ending the night 30 for 49 from the floor. Their offensive push was lead by Kromah, who finished 8 of 12 from the field. The difference between Tuesday night’s performance and his commanding presence Wednesday was due to patience, Lonergan said.
“[Kromah’s] a good shooter when he’s open, but sometimes he gets frustrated,” Lonergan said. “He doesn’t let the game come to him and he seeks out shots, and usually those are contested shots that are really difficult to make. When he’s open he has a green light.”
The Colonials dramatically improved their shooting presence during the game. GW was fearsome from beyond the arc, going 11 for 17 from deep. It was the team’s best perimeter performance since Feb. 19, 2009, when the Colonials went 10 for 12 against St. Bonaventure.
“We’re statistically one of the tops in the country in three point field goal percentage,” Lonergan said. “I’m very proud of that because I don’t think we’re a very good shooting team, but what we’re trying to do is to get the guys to be very selective.”
Mikic added three treys of his own to finish with nine points, tied with Edwards, whose nine was a new career high. Senior guard Tony Taylor had a season-low six points on two for five shooting from the field, concentrating more on running the team from the point as he dished nine assists on the night.
Taylor was named MVP of the subregional tournament, but was quick to shrug off the accomplishment and hand the spotlight back to his team.
“I think it’s pretty cool, but more importantly I’m glad we got three wins,” Taylor said. “[It’s] a big confidence boost. We had three tough games in three days. Everybody just played hard day-in and day-out, and we got a little bit better each day.”
Senior forward Aaron Ware earned his third consecutive game in double figures, going a perfect six-for-six from the floor and posting 14 points off of the bench. Ware, who did not start in any of three games, was named to the subregional All-Tournament team.
The accolade is a clear sign of Ware’s importance off the bench, providing crucial depth for the Colonials. And stepping into a role as the sixth man for the Colonials is something that Ware has come to embrace.
“You’re a gamer, so you want to play whether you’re starting or coming off the bench,” Ware said. “ I know a lot of times others teams will collapse on Kromah and Taylor and I just wanted to be aggressive whenever I got my opportunity to score.”
While Lonergan was pleased with the way GW shot the ball, the head coach was more buoyed by his team’s improvement in rebounding. The Colonials owned a 31-24 advantage on the boards over the Falcons, despite a first half where Edwards and junior forward David Pellom failed to grab a single rebound.
Lonergan pointed to Kromah’s performance off the glass as particularly telling. The guard grabbed a team-high eight boards, a sign of the heads-up, post-first style of play Lonergan desires.
“I’m really happy with [Kromah] because he’s been rebounding the ball,” Lonergan said. “He was our leading rebounder coming into tonight, and on a night when [Edwards] and Pellom didn’t get a rebound in the first half, it’s nice that our guards got in there and tried to help on the boards.”
With the three victories in hand, GW next travels to Manhattan, Kan. Dec. 1st to face off against Kansas State. Lonergan cited the consecutive three wins as a big boost to the team’s confidence going forward.
“I think it really helps us,” Lonergan said. “Our schedule is going to get a lot tougher. It’s a long year and we need to keep getting better. When we rebound, we can run and get easy shots. When we execute, we’re a very unselfish team.”