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Head coach Mike Lonergan talks to his bench during the A-10 Tournament. Hatchet File Photo

Head coach Mike Lonergan talks to his bench during the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Hatchet File Photo

Updated: July 15, 2014 at 2:41 p.m.

Men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan, while head coach at the University of Vermont, made Tyler Cavanaugh his first-ever scholarship offer when Cavanaugh was a sophomore at Jamesville-Dewitt High School in DeWitt, N.Y. more than four years ago.

Cavanaugh wound up at Wake Forest and Lonergan at GW. But after electing to transfer from Wake Forest in mid-June, Lonergan found a rare second opportunity to recruit the 6-foot-9 forward.

Cavanaugh announced Thursday on Twitter that he will join the Colonials next season. In addition to GW, Cavanaugh visited Dayton and Butler before making his choice. He also drew interest from Colorado, Davidson, Providence and Oregon.

He will have to sit out the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer guidelines, but Lonergan will get the remaining two years of eligibility from Cavanaugh, whose transfer availability transformed into a mini mid-major sweepstakes during the first part of the summer.

The forward, a true stretch four with good three-point range, averaged 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during his sophomore season at Wake Forest. He started 22 of 33 games after averaging 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game as a freshman. Cavanaugh scored a career-high 20 points against No. 16 Duke on March 5.

His two best rebounding performances last season came against frequent opponents of the Colonials: Cavanaugh had a nine-rebound effort in a win against Richmond and an eight-rebound effort in a win against St. Bonaventure.

But as the Demon Deacons underwent a leadership change from head coach Jeff Bzdelik, who recruited Cavanaugh, to Danny Manning in the spring, combined with the loss of several key players, Cavanaugh decided to transfer.

Cavanaugh told the Syracuse Post Standard that he no longer felt he could accomplish his goals of making an NCAA tournament and winning a conference championship at Atlantic Coast Conference-member Wake Forest, and he wanted to find a school where those ambitions were a realistic possibility.

Lonergan is not the only GW coach who is familiar with Cavanaugh’s high school roots. Assistant coach Carmen Maciariello, who joined the staff in May, is a former coach of Cavanaugh’s Amateur Athletic Union team, Albany City Rocks, though he was the coach before Cavanaugh’s days with the team.

Cavanaugh is the second transfer to join the Colonials during this offseason, along with former Division III guard Matt Hart, who comes from Hamilton.

Since taking the reigns of the men’s basketball team in 2011, Lonergan also successfully recruited transfers Isaiah Armwood in 2011, Maurice Creek in 2013 and Ryan McCoy, who sat out last year.

This post was updated to reflect the following corrections:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that head coach Mike Lonergan had courted Tyler Cavanaugh for four years. He only tried to recruit Cavanaugh four years ago and had a second chance when the now-junior decided to transfer this year. Due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that GW played Wake Forest last year. The Colonials did not play the Demon Deacons, though Wake Forest played frequent GW rivals Richmond and St. Bonaventure. Also due to an editing error, The Hatchet incorrectly reported the number of transfers that Lonergan has recruited. We regret these errors.

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Maurice Creek and Isaiah Armwood exit the Smith Center court after the Colonials defeat St. Joseph's. Hatchet File Photo

Maurice Creek and Isaiah Armwood exit the Smith Center court after the Colonials defeated St. Joseph’s last season. Hatchet File Photo

After leading the men’s basketball team through one of its most successful seasons in nearly a decade, alumni Maurice Creek and Isaiah Armwood wore the same colors one more time this week – but they weren’t buff and blue.

Armwood and Creek, known during the season as the “Zeke and Creek show,” both worked out for the Washington Wizards on Tuesday as part of their bids to make an NBA roster.

Armwood played in the workout’s first session, while Creek played in the second.

“I wish he was on my team. I think we would have had a little advantage,“ Armwood said after the workout. “But we were on separate teams. It was definitely nice to get out there with him.”

Creek and Armwood played with a handful of familiar faces: Halil Kanacevic of Saint Joseph’s, Devin Oliver of Dayton and Chaz Williams of Massachusetts, who all showed up to Tuesday’s workout. Armwood has already worked out for the Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings and most recently the Denver Nuggets.

 “[The Wizards] like to run a lot, that’s what I like to do,” Armwood said. “I could be like that three or four guy that rebounds the ball and be a lockdown defender. I think I could fit in real well. “

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game last season, making him one of the most impactful big men in the GW program’s history. Armwood earned Second Team All-Conference and Atlantic 10 All-Defensive team honors at the end of the season.

Meanwhile Creek, selling himself as a solid shooter and defender, received a couple pointers this week from members of his team as well as last season’s NBA Most Valuable Player.

“I talked to my trainers, I talked to a couple of guys and Kevin Durant,” Creek said. “They were just like, ‘You shoot the ball very well. Be mental and mindful of that. Just do what you do, don’t be shy, be confident, go in there and just take everything in.’”

Creek left his mark last season from beyond the arc, where he made the second-most 3-point shots in program history. He averaged a team-high 14.1 points per game and earned Third Team All-Conference honors.

With the NBA draft just a day away, Creek and Armwood had opposite plans for draft day. While Creek intends to watch the draft and “take it in,” Armwood said he “might not even watch it.” Both players are not predicted to hear their names called Thursday.

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Graduate student guard Maurice Creek played his final game after receiving 10 stitches in the first half. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Graduate student guard Maurice Creek played his final game after receiving 10 stitches in the first half. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

GW fell just one shot short of completing an improbable second-half comeback Friday, falling to the No. 8-seeded Memphis Tigers, 71-66.

Graduate student Maurice Creek got a final look at tying the game, but as many of his shots did at the PNC Arena, it did not fall.

In his final game as a Colonial, senior Isaiah Armwood led his team with 21 points on 9-12 shooting. Along with sophomore Kevin Larsen, who had 16 points, the frontcourt would carry GW all game long.

Memphis responded with an offensive showcase of its own, having no problem with GW’s 1-3-1 defense. The Tigers recorded 19 assists on their way to 49 percent shooting. Senior guard Michael Dixon Jr. led his team with 19 points, while fellow senior guard Joe Jackson would add 15 points and six assists.

Creek missed a large chunk of the first half as he received 10 stitches above his right eye, but would come back as a non-factor for GW. The guard finished with nine points on 2-13 shooting, 2-8 from three.

Down five at the half, the Colonials would amount a strong second-half comeback but would leave 10 points at the line, going 14-24 from the charity stripe.

Check back soon for the full story.

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Friday, March 21, 2014 3:50 p.m.

The Hatchet’s March Madness drinking game

If you get through the drinking game, make sure, make sure to stay on your feet. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

If you get through the drinking game, make sure, make sure to stay on your feet. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

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

NCAA Tournament basketball is magical, especially when your team hasn’t been in the big dance in seven years.

But basketball nirvana is also nerve-wracking. When GW tips off against Memphis, you’ll be an anxious mess. Best take off the edge with plenty of alcohol.

Everybody wins with The Hatchet’s drinking game — a little game to help you get through GW’s first 40 minutes of March Madness.

Take a drink:

If the announcers make any political reference.

When your mom texts you asking if you are watching the game.

Every time Nemanja Mikic dribbles the ball.

Whenever announcers mention GW’s win over Creighton.

Every time a GW player pump-fakes.

Get a second drink:

If Charles Barkley says something outlandish.

Take a shot:

Any time President Barack Obama or the White House is mentioned.

Every time Mike Lonergan is shown doing a silly hand motion.

Whenever Isaiah Armwood dunks.

For every Patricio Garino steal.

Every time the announcers wax poetic about Maurice Creek’s comeback.

Finish your drink:

If anybody mentions their bracket being busted.

Stand in the shower and shotgun a Natural Ice:

Any time the announcers say Georgetown instead of GW.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014 6:39 p.m.

Lonergan adds center to 2014 recruiting class

The men’s basketball team may have found its missing piece for next season, as big man Matt Cimino gave his verbal commitment to GW Sunday, according to reports from Evan Daniels of Scout.com.

Cimino, a 6-foot-10 center from Worcester (Mass.) Academy, will join head coach Mike Lonergan’s 2014 recruiting class that currently includes forwards Yuta Watanabe and Darain Bryant and guard Paul Jorgensen.

Center Matt Cimino, left, plays in a game for Worcester Academy. The big man gave his verbal commitment to GW Sunday. | Courtesy of Flickr

Center Matt Cimino, left, plays in a game for Worcester Academy. The big man gave his verbal commitment to GW Sunday. | Courtesy of Flickr

Cimino made a visit to GW for the Colonials 66-58 victory over District-rival George Mason on March 2, citing that day as a key factor in his decision.

“When I went on my visit and I just met so many people,” Cimino said in an interview with Daniels. “I felt like I was wanted and needed there compared to every other school. I was needed there most there.”

Finding a big man was the biggest hole the Colonials had to fill, with senior forward Isaiah Armwood set to graduate this year. It’s very possible that Cimino could see immediate action next season, complimenting sophomore Kevin Larsen in the frontcourt.

The center is already known for having a unique combination of size and touch around the basket, as well as great hands and the ability to hit a mid-range jumper.

In addition to the prospect of making an immediate impact, Cimino was most attracted to Foggy Bottom by the connections made with the coaching staff.

“First and foremost it’s probably my relationship with the coaches,” Cimino said in an interview. “They’ve been with me for a while and through ups and downs. My relationship with coach Longeran and coach [Hajj] Turner is very good.”

One of the top 25 centers of the 2014 class, Cimino is a three-star recruit according to ESPN and Rivals.com.

Cimino reportedly had other offers form big name schools such as Virginia, Indiana, Boston College, Kansas State, Georgia and Georgia Tech. According to the Scout.com report, Cimino had narrowed his list down to GW, Georgia and Georgia Tech – all of whom offered him a scholarship. With the signing, Lonergan is now left with one available scholarship for 2014.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014 11:56 p.m.

Photos: GW vs. VCU in A-10 semis

Brooklyn, N.Y. – GW’s Atlantic 10 title hopes evaporated on Saturday. The Colonials could not maintain their strong first-half performance, losing to No. 23 VCU.

Here’s what photo editor Samuel Klein captured from the baseline:

Sophomore Joe McDonald goes up for a layup Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Joe McDonald goes up for a layup Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Joe McDonald tries to captain GW's offense against VCU's "havoc" defense. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Kethan Savage made a brief return to the court Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Forward Isaiah Armwood got GW off to a solid start Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Forward Isaiah Armwood got GW off to a solid start Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Senior Isaiah Armwood slams home a dunk Saturday for two of his team-high 15 points. | Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Senior Isaiah Armwood slams home a dunk Saturday for two of his team-high 15 points. | Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomores Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino walk offthe court after GW's loss to VCU Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomores Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino walk offthe court after GW’s loss to VCU Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Kethan Savage, who has been out for most of the season with a foot injury, saw a brief appearance on the court Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Joe McDonald ties his show after being looked at by trainers at the end of Saturday’s game. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen try to stop a VCU player on Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Patricio Garino and Isaiah Armwood try to stop a VCU player on Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Head coach Mike Lonergan, who has garnered praise this year for turning around GW, instructs players on the sidelines Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Head coach Mike Lonergan, who has garnered praise this year for turning around GW, instructs players on the sidelines Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Forward Kevin Larsen stretches on the sideline before Saturday's game. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Forward Kevin Larsen stretches on the sideline before Saturday’s game. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore forward Kevin Larsen loses the ball against two VCU defenders Satruday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore forward Kevin Larsen loses the ball against two VCU defenders Satruday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Senior Nemanja Mikic fires a three in the first half. Mikic carried GW with his hot shooting again on Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Senior Nemanja Mikic fires a three in the first half. Mikic carried GW with his hot shooting again on Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Joe McDonald struggles to get around a VCU defender. The Rams are famous for their "havoc" defense that suffocates offenses. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore Joe McDonald struggles to get around a VCU defender. The Rams are famous for their “havoc” defense that suffocates offenses. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

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Sophomore forward Kevin Larsen loses the ball against two VCU defenders Satruday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomore forward Kevin Larsen loses the ball against two VCU defenders Satruday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

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

For the first 20 minutes Saturday, the Colonials weathered the storm.

But hampered by a fast-paced tempo and punishing inside play, GW crashed out of the Atlantic 10 Tournament at the hands of VCU.

There is no good time to play a very solid team like VCU, but there is a bad time to play them. And with a quick turnaround from last night’s punishing game against Massachusetts, Saturday afternoon was the wrong time for GW.

After a solid first half, GW entered the halftime interval down a bucket and converting 48.1 percent of its shots from the floor. The only blemish of the opening period was the sight of Kethan Savage limping back to the locker room, as the sophomore’s return to action entailed only one uneventful minute. (Savage never looked comfortable on the floor, and upon returning to the bench after his fleeting flash of action, looked rather relieved to get off his ailing foot.)

During halftime, head coach Mike Lonergan encouraged his team to keep getting the ball to his big men and continue the hot starts of senior Isaiah Armwood and sophomore Kevin Larsen, who combined for 18 points on 8-for-11 from the field.

But VCU was able to neutralize the inside play of the Colonials with their ox of a man: Mo Alie-Cox. Alie-Cox’s strength was immediately apparent as Larsen struggled to gain position on every possession and GW’s 6-foot-10 sophomore could only hope for a stalemate verse the ox.

After the half, Larsen and Armwood would score just five points (2-6 from the floor) as the 6-foot-6, 250 pound Alie-Cox asserted his dominance, grabbing six points and six rebounds during that span.

VCU head coach Shaka Smart was pleased with his 20-year-old’s defense: “He changed a lot of plays around the basket,” Smart said. “He’s credited for two blocks, but he changed so many more, and I thought he did a terrific job on the glass, as well.”

How terrific on the glass? Well GW managed just 11 second-half rebounds compared to 20 corralled by VCU. As the Colonials shooting percentage dipped to 33.3 percent in the second half, second-chance points disappeared with the GW hopes of playing on Sunday.

After the game, Armwood sat at the podium visibly disappointed and took the blame for the poor performance.

“The second half we didn’t do the job on the boards,” he said. “They are known for rebounding and we knew that coming into the game, we just didn’t put a body on them.”

Even with the daunting Alie-Cox and senior forward Juvonte Reddic — who grabbed 10 rebounds — fatigue is what got the Colonials in the end. Fatigued from playing two games in one 18-hour span after a long regular season played with a very short bench. GW may be glad not to have to play again for a few days.

And while there was postgame sulking from Armwood and his head coach, Sunday will be a historic day for the program, as GW will earn their first NCAA Tournament bid in seven years.

Lonergan said it best after the game: “We’ll be miserable for a few hours,” he said. “But I’ll wake up tomorrow and it will be a great day in my life.”

An invite to the dance is the best cure for the Colonials current woes.

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GW had nothing left in the tank.

After trailing the No. 23 team in the country by just two at halftime, shots stopped falling for the Colonials as VCU stayed hot on its way to a 74-55 victory.

GW will now have to wait until 6 p.m. Sunday to find out its fate in the NCAA Tournament. In ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracket, the Colonials were picked as a No. 7 seed, taking on No. 8 Pittsburgh in Buffalo, N.Y.

“Disappointed with the loss. I thought it was a pretty good game for about two-thirds of the game,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “I think Nemanja [Mikic] hit a shot with 7:43 left and then after that we just struggled to score.”

The Colonials played the first six minutes without turning the ball over a single time. VCU’s pressure would not change, but the Colonials lost their ability to hold on to the ball. In the final 14 minutes of the half GW turned the ball over 11 times, mostly coming by way of errant and telegraphed passes. The Colonials ended the game with 15 turnovers off nine Ram steals.

GW handled the pressure of VCU’s press early on the game, though, best illustrated by the Colonials first possession of the game. Three crisp passes, first from sophomore Joe McDonald to graduate student Maurice Creek and then to a running Kevin Larsen led to a two-handed slam for senior Isaiah Armwood.

Armwood proved the spark for the Colonials early on, but as it did for the rest of GW, fatigue took its toll as the game progressed. In the first four minutes of the game, the senior scored seven points and grabbed three rebounds, appearing very comfortable in the paint and attacking VCU’s frontcourt on every possession.

“Early in the game we made all the right plays,” Armwood said. “It was the turning point in the game where it wasn’t necessarily them making us turn the ball over, we had some uncharacteristic turnovers that let them take the lead going into halftime and it continued in the second half.”

Senior Nemanja Mikic complemented Armwood’s first-half scoring. For the second straight game, Mikic became GW’s three-point threat, going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc in the first half to finish with 12 points in 16 minutes of play.

Struggling in the first half was Larsen, who had the added responsibility of being ball handler in the absence of Kethan Savage. Larsen turned the ball over five times in the half, but came alive in the second, scoring four straight points for GW to finish with 10.

VCU was led by junior forward Treveon Graham, who despite early foul trouble, still led the Rams with eight points at the half. Graham’s damage would be done in the second half, however, as he scored seven points in the first five minutes – just the beginning of a scoring tear that led to 22 points and four assists.

The Rams as a whole picked up their offense in the second half, seeming to heat up as the Colonials legs grew tired. After shooting 39.4 percent in the first half, VCU shot 56.5 percent in the second half, opening the half 5-for-6 from the field. Junior Briante Weber ran a fluid offense for the Rams, dishing out a game-high eight assists, while scoring 16 points.

The Colonials fought hard to stick with the Rams, but were ultimately unable to match the production and energy of VCU’s scorers. The Colonials limited their second half turnovers to four, but would only shoot 7-for-21 from the field, struggling to find open looks and convert attempts.

VCU’s success would also be found in their ability to out-rebound GW in the second half. After ending the first half tied at 17, VCU ultimately outrebounded the Colonials 37-28, leading to 12 second-chance points.

Senior Isaiah Armwood slams home a dunk Saturday for two of his team-high 15 points. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Senior Isaiah Armwood slams home a dunk Saturday for two of his team-high 15 points. | Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

“If you can outrebound GW by nine, that’s a heck of a feat,” head coach Shaka Smart said.

GW would also miss the production of McDonald and sophomore Patricio Garino, who combined for just nine points Saturday. Garino went scoreless in the first half and after a small offensive run in the second, would go silent for the Colonials finishing with six points on 2-of-9 shooting.

McDonald also struggled to shoot the ball, making just one field goal in the game. McDonald’s role Saturday was as primary ball handler, in which he did a more than exceptional job, but his beat-up body would take one too many hits as he left the game with 5:28 left to play after tweaking his ankle. McDonald returned for a short stint a couple minutes later, but would exit the game for good, fouling out of the game with 3:03 left to play.

“It might have been his ankle, which I felt good about since it wasn’t his hip,” Lonergan said. “I knew it would be tough, but he’s a warrior, he plays so hard and I didn’t have a lot of choices as you can see. Give VCU credit, they wore him out and wore all our team out, but hopefully he’ll be back by NCAA’s.”

Sophomore Kethan Savage made his first appearance since Jan. 18 after fracturing his foot against St. Bonaventure, but unfortunately, it was short lived as he played only one minute.

“He cut and he felt some soreness. I think he told the trainers to have me take him right out, so it was tough,” Lonergan said. “I feel bad, I’m hoping he’s alright and maybe a few more days.”

Sophomores Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino walk offthe court after GW's loss to VCU Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Sophomores Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino walk offthe court after GW’s loss to VCU Saturday. Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

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

The Colonials had a mission for the Atlantic 10 Tournament: Avoid being “one and done.” With a hard-fought 85-77 win over Massachusetts, it was mission accomplished.

Now with one A-10 win under their belts, GW has nothing more they need to prove to the NCAA Tournament selection committee. And that may be a good thing, because after a physical 40 minutes Friday, they may have nothing left in the tank for Saturday.

The Colonials only get 17-hours between the buzzer vs. the Minutemen to prepare for the pressure defense of VCU.

As head coach Mike Lonergan spent the game heaping abuse on the referees and motivating his players, VCU head coach Shaka Smart sat across the court, calmly waiting for his team’s opponent to step forward.

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

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

And despite the Colonials only having a few hours disadvantage when it comes to rest, they played a vastly tougher game than the Rams did. Tired legs will likely play a bigger role than skill on the ball come 4 p.m. Saturday.

But as this GW season has taught many around the A-10: the “on-paper” matchup is rarely an accurate prediction of the outcome.

After the win over UMass, Lonergan reminded the assembled media that they predicted his Colonials to finish tenth in the conference. GW finished third. Nemanja Mikic reminded everybody in the world that he could make open shots — pouring in 14 points in 12 minutes of reserve duty. And in case anybody needed this reminder, in college basketball, March is the month of unexpected results.

In the first two meetings this season between GW and VCU, there were few constants: hot shooting, tough defense and a plethora of turnovers.

In the first meeting, GW shot 54.4 percent, while committing a total of 43 turnovers, but used its 1-3-1 zone to harass, and all but control, the VCU offense—earning a 10-point victory.

But in that game the Colonials had guard Kethan Savage to help handle the pressure. Savage was out with injury during GW’s 17-point loss to VCU in the second matchup and will likely not play today.

Last night, when the Minutemen brought pressure in the second half, GW struggled to adjust to the pace. The VCU pressure is even more of a pest and can kill a team short on ball handlers, short on energy and short on time to prepare. The Colonials are all three.

But it will take more than a short turnaround after an emotional, physical game to dampen the spirit of these Colonials.

The lasting memory of GW’s game last night was the physical pounding the Colonials took without showing an ounce of quit. The beating from UMass big man Cady Lalanne was unrelenting, but GW forwards Isaiah Armwood and Kevin Larsen were unyielding.

Against VCU they will have to deal with Mo Alie-Cox — an ox man at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, known as one of the most physically imposing players in the conference. The GW guards, on the other hand, will have to deal with Brainte Weber harassing them for all 94 feet of Barclays Center court.

But the box score doesn’t tell the story of a game, past performances don’t tell the story of a team and anything can happen Saturday afternoon.

This is March. Disregard all conventional wisdom.

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WHO: No. 3 GW (24-7) vs. No. 2 VCU (25-7)

WHEN: Saturday, March 15 @ 4 p.m.

WHERE: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

It’s grudge match time.

Sophomore Joe McDonald goes against Massachusett's Chaz Williams in the first half of Saturday's A-10 Quarterfinals. | Photo Editor Sam Klein

Sophomore Joe McDonald goes against Massachusett’s Chaz Williams in the first half of Saturday’s A-10 Quarterfinals. | Photo Editor Sam Klein

After successfully defending their respective home courts in the regular season, the Colonials and Rams face each other for the third time with even more on the line: a trip to the Atlantic 10 Championship.

For GW, it’s a seemingly simple formula: make VCU pay for its “Havoc” press, by understanding that there will be turnovers and converting when they have the chance. It’s seemingly simple, but not many teams have been able to do so this season, especially of late – the Rams come into Saturday having won their last five games.

Likely with tired legs after a quick turnaround from Friday night’s win, swift, clean passes will be the key for GW to make up for its lack of ball handlers. Sophomore Joe McDonald will have his hands full in the backcourt, facing the nation’s No. 1 team and No. 1 player – Briante Webber (3.5) – in steals per game.

On offense, the Rams are led by senior forward Juvonte Reddic (12.2 pg, 8.4 rpg) and junior guard Treveon Graham (15.5 ppg, 7 rpg), who scored 25 points in VCU’s last win over GW.

Here’s what Lonergan and Armwood had to say about their impending matchup with the Rams following Friday’s win:

Q: Can you talk a little more in depth about facing the Rams and trying to get to the finals?

Armwood: It’s going to be a challenge, but we beat them on our home court, they beat us on their home court. It’s a neutral site now so we just got to handle that pressure. If we handle that pressure, stay out of foul trouble, I think we’ll be alright.

Q: What’s it going to take to beat VCU tomorrow?

Lonergan: We’re going to have to handle the ball better than we did tonight and the game there. What really helped us in the first game is Kethan Savage played and did a great job of handling the ball, taking some of the pressure off of Joe. Now, without Kethan, as you saw tonight under pressure, we don’t have a lot of ball handlers, so Kevin Larsen is going to have to help us out, Maurice is going to have to do a much better job – he had six turnovers tonight.

Lonergan: It’s going to have to be a team effort. It’s easier said than done, they’ve got a heck of a team and the defense is incredible. Not a lot of turnaround time, so it’s not an ideal matchup for us, but you know what, we’re excited about playing – we can play loose and hopefully stress shots, not turnovers.

Sean Hurd contributed reporting.

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