Despite recent struggles, improvement was visible on both ends of the court as GW (18-10, 8-7 A-10) downed St. Bonaventure (14-12, 7-8 A-10) 69-46 in its penultimate home game of the season.
“It’s just great to remember what it feels like to win again,” senior forward John Kopriva said. “We knew we had what it takes and came out aggressive today, played with some energy, and we also played defense.”
Junior guard Joe McDonald was nearly perfect, posting a career-high five three-pointers to contribute to his team-leading 17 points while adding five of the Colonials’ 29 total rebounds.
“As of late, my three has felt pretty good and we knew they’d go zone at some point, so I just wanted to make sure I was aggressive,” McDonald said. “I didn’t want to keep swinging the ball outside, [I wanted to] be confident and take the shot.”
Kopriva and junior forward Kevin Larsen combined for 27 points, while Larsen added a team-high seven rebounds in the 23-point victory.
Quick ball movement and accurate shooting helped GW dominate the first half offensively with the team going 66.7 percent from the field in the frame. Led by McDonald, who tied a career-high four three-pointers in the first half alone, GW finished nine for 17 from beyond the arc.
“Joe was on fire early, and we knew we’d see some zone because of the way we’re shooting the ball,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “We made shots. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, but I think when one guy comes out on fire it kind of takes the pressure off of us, and we shared the ball.”
Although the Colonials were cold at the line, making only one of six free-throw attempts in the first half, the Bonnies weren’t able to capitalize on the other end. GW’s defense held the visitors to just 29.2 percent shooting from the field and no makes on six three-point attempts to take a 36-18 lead at halftime.
But open looks for the Colonials did not come without efficient passing. GW had 10 assists on its 14 first-half field goals, and totaled 14 assists on the night.
“[Assists] were key. We didn’t want to just stand around. We wanted to move the ball,” Kopriva said. “It’s fun when you get into a tough situation and kick it out for a three and the guy knocks it down. That gives me more confidence in myself in the shot.”
St. Bonaventure improved its scoring in the second half, going 50 percent from the field to finish the night with a respectable 39.1 percent shooting percentage. But GW matched serve, also going 50 percent in the half, and would turn the ball over only nine times on the night to the Bonnies’ 11.
Twelve points from junior guard Marcus Posley and a game-high nine rebounds from senior center Youssou Ndoye would not be enough for the Bonnies. Their 46 total points were the fewest GW has conceded in Atlantic 10 play this season.
“We had energy. I think Patricio did a really good job on Posley when we were in man. He was 0-6 at halftime, and [on] the one-three-one for the most part we shaded his side and did a good job,” Lonergan said. “We let down in the second half again … but the difference is that we had a big lead. But I’m still a little disappointed we don’t play defense for 40 minutes. That’s why we had a losing streak.”
Behind junior guard Kethan Savage’s six points, GW’s bench was also active in the win, outscoring the Bonnies’ reserves 14-6 on the night. Freshman guard Anthony Swan even joined the action, hitting his first three-pointer as a Colonial in the game’s final minute.
With only three games remaining in the regular season, the Colonials will travel to Davidson on Saturday for a rematch with the Wildcats at 7 p.m.