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It was senior day at the Smith Center on Saturday, and while lone fourth-year forward John Kopriva posted an impressive 12 points and four rebounds, it was a GW freshman who stole the show.

Freshman forward Yuta Watanabe hit a career-high seven three-pointers to finish with 21 points and four rebounds, as four more Colonials went on to score in double figures en route to a dominant 87-65 victory over Massachusetts.

“We made shots today,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “I wanted John to win on senior day. He’s done a lot for our program… He played great, our team played great and it’s nice to see us put the ball in the basket.”

The Colonials’ bench followed closely behind, as junior guard Kethan Savage put up 13 points and five rebounds, while freshman guard Paul Jorgensen added 12, going 2-2 from three-point range in the 22-point win.

A slow start for the Colonials allowed the Minutemen to jump to a 14-9 lead midway through the first half. Turnover woes seemed to plague the home team early, but GW soon found its composure and began rolling offensively.

“We were sluggish for the first three minutes, and it surprised me,” Lonergan said. “I took Yuta out after about a minute to talk to him and put Kethan in. We turned the ball over a few times, but then we played great after that.”

Sharp shooting, fittingly sparked by a pair of threes from Kopriva, became contagious. Watanabe would lead the half with 12 points as five different Colonials contributed to a whopping nine first-half three-pointers.

A 65.5 percent clip from the field and only five turnovers in the first frame helped the Colonials secure a commanding 50-28 lead heading into halftime. GW would also finish the night with 19 crucial assists, two shy of its season-high, with efficient passing that led to good looks.

“We were struggling in February, holding the ball and dribbling too much trying to create too many shots on our own, individually, and that’s not our strength,” Lonergan said. “Our guys really shared the ball today, and hopefully they see that we can be successful when we play as a team.”

The second half would bring much of the same, as GW kept up its offensive onslaught while Massachusetts struggled to get anything going. Watanabe would knock down three more from beyond the arc to round off a GW offense that shot 60 percent from the field and 77.8 percent from three on the day.

“[Yuta] kept his confidence the whole time. Truthfully, it pushed me,” Kopriva said. “You see him hitting the shots, and [I think], ‘I’ve got to make some shots myself’… He’s a key part of our team.”

The Colonials also held the Minutemen to just 39.3 percent from the field with a strong defensive effort, as Massachusetts turned the ball over 11 times in the contest and shot just 26.3 percent from three.

The win also secured GW a No. 6 spot in the Atlantic 10 tournament next week. The Colonials will return to action Thursday night at 9 p.m.

“Once we had the win secure, I got to walk off to a standing ‘o’ from the crowd. That was pretty special,” Kopriva said. “It’s been a great place to me, great to go out on a win, but we don’t want this to end. We’ve got to keep it going.”

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Caption. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

The Colonials will move on to the A-10 tournament semifinals after defeating Saint Louis 77-63 on Friday. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

RICHMOND – It was a tale of two halves in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament for the women’s basketball team, which ultimately went on to defeat Saint Louis 77-63 on Friday.

The Colonials knew they wouldn’t have an easy path through the A-10 tournament after the Billikens knocked off VCU on Thursday – and it showed in the first half.

GW and Saint Louis, the only team to take down the Colonials during conference play, battled for the entire first frame.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say there was some extra motivation,” head coach Jonathan Tsipis said. “Just because when you finish the regular season with one conference loss and you happen to be playing that same team, I’d be lying.”

The Colonials never gave up the lead, but they couldn’t put any real distance between themselves and their opponent in the first half. Saint Louis matched nearly every shot GW took, pulling even at one point midway through the half and never trailing by more than eight.

The X factor for the Colonials in the first was sophomore forward Caira Washington, who led the offense for much of that frame, scoring 14 points and pulling down seven boards. She would finish the game with 24 points and was a rebound shy of a double-double.

“[I was] just getting into the right spots,” Washington said. “They were bringing two to double [frontcourt mate Jonquel Jones], and I just make my moves as quickly as possible. That worked for me today.”

The game started to shift GW’s way almost as soon as the buzzer went off signaling the start of the second half.

Behind the strong game of GW’s two bigs, sophomore guard Hannah Schaible had a good game, tying Jones with 14 points and dishing out five assists.

“As the game moved along, more and more people contributed for us,” Tsipis said. “Hannah Schaible was really good, a huge three-pointer in the first half. As we closed the first half, it gave us the same mentality as we started the second half.”

Washington had two steals early in the second, which helped swing momentum in the direction of the Colonials. They didn’t take their foot off the gas, while Saint Louis, whose starters all played significant minutes in their win over VCU, began to slow down early.

GW would hold the lead by as much as 19 midway through the half, anchored by continued strong play from Washington and a good second half from junior forward Jones.

Jones met her season average of a double-double per game, with 14 points and 15 rebounds, and most of that came in the second frame.

Saint Louis tried to launch a late comeback, but with about 3:30 remaining, a thunderous block from Jones and a steal from senior guard Chakecia Miller a minute later were enough to slow down the Billikens.

Saint Louis would bring it as close as seven, but the Colonials had built up enough of a lead that they were able to weather the late run.

As time wound down, the Colonials kept enough distance to force Saint Louis to foul. GW twisted the knife from the charity stripe, hitting free throws late and 81 percent for the day.

Dominance on the boards was also crucial for the Colonials: They grabbed 49 boards – led by Jones’ 15 – compared to Saint Louis’ 30.

“We’re a team all year that’s taken a lot of pride about being really good defensively and making sure people don’t get extra opportunities,” Tsipis said. “Plus 19 on the rebounding margin is the first thing we look at.”

With the win, GW will move on to the semifinals Saturday to face the winner of the Fordham and Richmond game.

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GW players and fans celebrate as GW is given a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament's East region. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

GW players and fans celebrate as GW is given a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s East region. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Forget about picking your bracket winners based on weirdest mascots or best color combination. Try annual tuition payments.

Websites like The Awl and Slate have already done the math, and determined that GW would win the NCAA Tournament pretty handily if high tuition determined winners. The Colonials would blow away the competition, actually, with at least a $3,000 cushion in each matchup.

That’s probably not the best way to judge college pricing, however. If you were to pick based on average net price – or how much students pay after financial aid – GW would lose in the title game to American, according to a Hatchet analysis of Department of Education data. So, there’s some solace.

Adding insult to injury? GW would be knocked out in the first round if you used the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate, according to Inside Higher Ed, and the second round if you used U.S. News & World Report rankings.

But remember: Georgetown isn’t dancing. Get those brackets filled out – using whatever method suits you.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014 10:22 a.m.

Photos: GW vs. UMass at Barclays Center

Brooklyn, N.Y. — GW’s 85-77 win over UMass on Friday night was the Colonials’ first win in the Atlantic 10 tournament since 2007. The game drew thousands of students and alumni to Brooklyn, N.Y.

Hatchet photo editor Samuel Klein was on the sidelines to capture the action.

Isaiah Armwood goes up for a slam against UMass on Friday night. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Isaiah Armwood goes up for a slam against UMass on Friday night. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Patricio Garino is hit by a UMass defender as he goes up for a basket. The sophomore scored 10 points in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinal. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Patricio Garino is hit by a UMass defender as he goes up for a basket. The sophomore scored 10 points in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinal. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Guard Maurice Creek gets a hug after Friday night's game in Brooklyn. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Guard Maurice Creek gets a hug after Friday night’s game in Brooklyn. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

A raucous GW fan section cheered in the Barclays Center on Friday night. The Colonials drew nearly 2,000 fans to Brooklyn. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

A raucous GW fan section cheered in the Barclays Center on Friday night. The Colonials drew nearly 2,000 fans to Brooklyn. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

The Colonials made the trip to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday night, playing in front 8,755 fans. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

The Colonials made the trip to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday night, playing in front 8,755 fans. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

GW's bench erupts during the Colonials' red-hot second half, when they shot 51.7 percent from the field. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

GW’s bench erupts during the Colonials’ red-hot second half, when they shot 51.7 percent from the field. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Head coach Mike Lonergan, in his third year on the GW sidelines, calls for a play in his team's Friday night win. Lonergan was a presence as usual on the sidelines: waving, stomping and flailing during big plays. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Head coach Mike Lonergan, in his third year on the GW sidelines, calls for a play in his team’s Friday night win. Lonergan was a presence as usual on the sidelines: waving, stomping and flailing during big plays. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Guard Maurice Creek lunges back for the ball in Friday night's win over UMass. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Guard Maurice Creek lunges back for the ball in Friday night’s win over UMass. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Kevin Larsen drives in the paint on Friday night. The forward scored just six points but grabbed seven rebounds. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Kevin Larsen drives in the paint on Friday night. The forward scored just six points but grabbed seven rebounds. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald celebrate in GW's 85-77 win. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald celebrate in GW’s 85-77 win. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

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Members of the men's water polo team dressed in togas and cheered raucously earlier this year at the Smith Center. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster

Members of the men’s water polo team dressed in togas and cheered raucously earlier this year at the Smith Center. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster

Ben Krimmel, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

Foggy Bottom had become a virtual ghost town by Monday afternoon of spring break.

Except for a few holdovers — like myself — milling around campus, the only people around were prospective students on tours. With the sun cascading down on the Smith Center, I snuck up on one such group to listen for any mention of the men’s basketball team.

Knowing the GW marketing team’s penchant for hyperbole, I expected the guide to proclaim the basketball team serious NCAA Tournament contenders next to the likes of Florida and Kansas.

Instead, the bragging was rather scant. The tour guide simply stated that there had been a few attendance records set during this year’s season. I was mystified.

No mention of the 23 wins – the most since 2007 – and nothing about the team’s No. 3 seed in this weeks A-10 Tournament. The guide didn’t even let his group know that tickets are free for students. This may have been the guide’s only chance to boast about the University without any hint of irony, and he let the opportunity go by.

Of course, the omission of more statistics about GW’s winning season was this particular tour guide’s choice. But perhaps the underselling of the team’s success by this student and others on campus can be chalked up to the University’s collective uncertainty on how to promote the men’s basketball team’s victories – a new source of GW pride – to prospective students.

This is something that GW should highlight more, certainly at least as much as we tout the school’s proximity to national landmarks.

Sure, one winning season certainly does not mean there will be a flood of applications from students more interested in “bracketology” than election forecasting. But as the basketball team brings more national attention to the University, and some seedlings of the change have already taken root.

The increase in this year’s student attendance demonstrates the beginnings of a greater sense of community — something the University is often criticized for failing to create.

Higher attendance is a testament to the work of Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero, the leaders of the Colonial Army, the players and men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan. Whether it is the pregame tailgates, t-shirt giveaways or a free trip for students to the game at George Mason, this has been a year where pride seems to finally be coming naturally to GW students.

Tour guides and all other current students would be unwise to continue using athletics as a punchline. In fact, they should make it a focal point: For the millions who fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket, GW will now be known as one of 68.

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ST. LOUIS — The men’s basketball team had several possessions and scoring runs that kept the Colonials close with the No. 10 team in the country.

Saint Louis would make a run, GW (20-7, 8-5) would push back, but forced errors and a debilitating defense would lead to a 66-59 loss for the Colonials. The loss – on the road in front of a hostile sellout crowd – was GW’s third in four games.

“I’m glad we didn’t fold. It was a great atmosphere and I’m glad we came back and tied it up,” head coach Mike Lonergan said.

But, he added: “We’ve got to get our swagger back.”

The Colonials stormed back from a 14-point deficit to tie the game with a little over nine minutes left in the game. But GW’s shooting then went ice cold. It was a story of the game: close, but not quite enough.

GW played a one-dimensional first half, scoring 16 of their 19 points from field goals inside the paint. Sophomores Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald carried the Colonials offense, scoring 20 of GW’s 27 first half points, with Larsen leading the team with 12.

The Saint Louis defense, which entered the game as the ninth-best scoring defense in the nation, held GW to 35 percent shooting in the first half. Throughout the half, the Billikens backcourt swarmed GW ball handlers, forcing nine first-half turnovers off five steals, and often times made it difficult for the Colonials to even pass the ball.

“It was just tough to get any wing entries,” McDonald said. “We had to do a lot of high ball screens with me and Kevin because you know, we couldn’t get it in from the wing so we just had to improvise a little bit.”

After a painfully slow first half, the men’s basketball team had a chance to go into the half with momentum and cut a Saint Louis lead, that was as large as 11, down to single digits in the final seconds.

An errant pass by SLU’s Jake Barnett led to a steal at midcourt by sophomore Kevin Larsen. After pushing the ball up the floor, GW found senior Nemanja Mikic in the corner for an uncontested three.

A miss by Mikic and a rebound by junior John Kopriva would lead to a second-chance opportunity for the Colonials as Kopriva looked for Mikic who stood unguarded. But a misdirected pass and turnover by Kopriva would lead to a Billikens dunk on the other end as the clock expired.

The Colonials’ first-half efforts were stunted by foul trouble from two of the team’s season leaders: senior Isaiah Armwood and graduate student Maurice Creek. Armwood would be limited to just 12 first half minutes while Creek would play just 10.

By the end of the half, between Garino, Creek, and Armwood go a combined 1-for-6 from the field.

“Honestly, Patricio and Mo Creek couldn’t even get open,” Lonergan said. “Mo, they played physical with him, and he couldn’t get the ball, he really struggled.”

Creek and Armwood would log heavier minutes in the second half of play, but both would struggle offensively. Armwood would finish with six points on 2-for-7 shooting and 11 rebounds. Creek, who wouldn’t score his first field goal until 13:50 left in the second half, would finish with five points on 2-for-12 shooting. Creek would miss all five of his three-point attempts.

On the offensive end, Saint Louis was able to break GW’s 1-3-1 zone defense with ball movement, converting 16 field goals on 10 first half assists. The Billikens shot 55 percent, led by 10 first-half points from senior Jordair Jett, and would end the half with a 12 point lead.

At the half, Lonergan told his 20-win team to start playing like an NCAA Tournament contender.

“At halftime, I just said we’re not playing with enough energy. I said, ‘Hey you want to come here and compete, we’re on TV, this is a big game for us,’” he said. “I said I just want to play hard, I didn’t think we played real hard.”

GW would respond, coming out aggressive in the second half and slowly chipping away at the SLU lead while tightening up on the defensive end. The offensive charge was led by McDonald and sophomore Patricio Garino.

After being affected by the SLU pressure in the first half, McDonald adjusted and was able to run set plays for the offense while finding his own shot. McDonald would finish with 13 second-half points, six of those points coming from beyond the arc.

After attempting just a single shot in the first half Garino went 3-for-5 in the second and finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Defensively, the Colonials outrebounded the Billikens 26-17 after being outrebounded in the first half by three.

In the span of just under 11 minutes, GW would erase a 14-point Saint Louis lead. But like most of the game, Saint Louis would regain composure, and take an 8-0 run to extend their lead, something that Billikens’ head coach Jim Crews credits to his team’s ability to regain the rebound battle.

But the big GW run would come at a price. Lonergan said that he believed the 11-minute span knocked the energy out of his starting five. He added that without a productive bench, forced him to leave the starters in for extended minutes.

SLU would keep GW in the game due to lackluster free throw shooting, shooting 9-15 from the line. The Colonials would come as close as three points, but multiple missed three-point looks by McDonald and Garino down the stretch would seal the victory for the Billikens.

“I thought maybe we lost our composure, but Patricio came down and just shot like a 30 footer,” Lonergan said.

Lonergan had one timeout remaining in the game but opted not to use it, saying after the game that he tried to have Garino go off a screen but says the sophomore’s inexperience and quick shot may have led to the quick shot.

GW returns to the Smith Center next Sunday where they will host George Mason at 1 p.m.

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MBB Vs. Fordham from The GW Hatchet on Vimeo.


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Photos by:
Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor
Caitlin Harrington | Hatchet Photographer
Desiree Halpern | Hatchet Staff Photographer

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Maybe this will make this afternoon’s 75-65 loss to the Dayton Flyers a little more bearable?

The men’s basketball team has always struggled to pull out a win when traveling to the University of Dayton Arena. The last time the Colonials walked away from Ohio victorious was on Feb. 26, 2005 under head coach Karl Hobbs.

With the game tied at 59 and under a minute to play, a crucial turnover by the Flyers with just seconds left on the clock gave then-GW sophomore Carl Elliot one last opportunity to win the game in regulation with a prayer from close to half court.

The rest is history, and the finish was nothing short of spectacular.

Elliot would go on to be named to the Atlantic 10 all-defensive team at the end of the season and the team as a whole would finish the year 22-8 with a conference title and a first round loss to Georgia Tech in the NCAA tournament.

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Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 1:03 p.m.

Skyler White called his shot

The Colonials’ victory over La Salle on Wednesday was mostly forgettable. GW steamrolled a weaker opponent and cruised to their 17th victory.

However, the last two minutes of the game were worth reliving.

Colonials fans were practically begging head coach Mike Lonergan to put in forward Skyler White – a walk-on freshman who endeared himself after stopping mid-play to tie his shoe earlier in the season.

And with a minute and 38 seconds left on the clock, Lonergan relented. In came White.

From my seat under the hoop, I heard White made the boldest of predictions: “If I get the ball, I’m gonna make a three,” he told his teammate Paris Maragkos.

And if you can excuse my poor camerawork, you can see what happens next. From a dish from freshman Miguel Cartagena, White hits a three.

The entire Smith Center (including the GW bench) erupted, and kept celebrating when White grabs a defensive rebound on the other side of the court. Fittingly, the game’s last play is a second White rebound.

White called his shot, cementing himself as GW’s Babe Ruth.

Zach Montellaro is The Hatchet’s multimedia editor.

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