Patricio Garino drove at the basket, stretching out his right arm toward the rim. Jostled as he went up, the ball couldn’t get over the iron. Penn State got up in transition for a fast-break layup.
After going back and forth early, the Colonials fell flat in the second half, losing to Penn State 64-51 on the road Sunday and falling to 6-3 on the season.
“They played harder than us. They definitely deserved to win that game,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “We really played poorly today, and it was mostly just energy and effort.”
GW still outscored Penn State 34-26 in the paint, but the Colonials made none of their eight attempts at threes. The Lions sunk seven of 24 attempts against a GW defense that was holding opponents to 28 percent shooting from three heading into the game.
After GW led by as much as seven early in the first half, the Nittany Lions closed out the first with a 34-28 lead, with five of their threes coming before halftime.
“We tried to switch everything in the first half. I thought that worked pretty well, but they were driving past our four men,” Lonergan said. “It just seemed like at the right time they were wide open from three.”
Drives to the basket were blocked six times in the first half, including a series of volleys under the basket as the Colonials tried to pull closer before halftime. Penn State blocked 11 shots in the game, which Lonergan called “the toughest stat” for GW.
Both teams had just 11 turnovers, but neither shot well. Penn State was able to defend GW’s rebounding well enough to generate 62 shots compared to 53 for GW. The Colonials shot just 34 percent in the game to Penn State’s 38.7. On three days rest, Lonergan said the team was worn down.
“We ended up playing defense too long,” Lonergan said. “Guys just got tired.”
GW got within a possession of Penn State twice early in the second half but couldn’t find a rhythm. The game plodded along, the Lions getting fouls called and GW failing to capitalize. The Colonials were 15-23 from the line to Penn State’s perfect 9-9.
“You can’t put up 51 points and miss so many opportunities from the free-throw line and stay in the game,” Lonergan said.
Any attempt at a run was crushed by Penn State’s top scorer D.J. Newbill, who led all scorers with 20 points.
And while Newbill was joined by Brandon Taylor with 17 points and Shep Garner with 10, the Colonials couldn’t find much scoring outside of Garino and Kevin Larsen, who each scored 15 points. Larsen had his first double-double of the season, also adding 13 total rebounds.
Points were thinly spread beyond that pair. Kethan Savage had his second straight quiet game, going 1-7 from the field after a 1-9 night against DePaul, though he did make 5-6 free throws. John Kopriva had five points and Joe McDonald only three.
“We’ve got five guys that can score on the floor,” Larsen said. “We’ve just got to play more of a team game and we’ll be fine.”
With three starters going quiet, GW received no help via bench production, seeing their reserves outscored 13-6 and getting just four points from Yuta Watanabe and two from Darian Bryant.
The team can try to forget the loss with a change of scenery, taking off next for the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The Colonials will play their first game against Ohio on Dec. 22 in Honolulu.
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
In a photo caption, The Hatchet incorrectly reported that GW lost to Penn State 54-61. The Colonials lost 64-51. We regret this error.