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Lasan Kromah

Then-freshmen Maurice Creek went up for a layout against North Carolina Central in 2009. Injuries have slowed down the guard’s career, but he is looking to revive it at GW. Photo courtesy of the Indiana Daily Student

Updated at 1:26 p.m. on June 7, 2013.

The Colonials got a big boost to their roster Friday when Indiana guard Maurice Creek announced he would transfer to GW.

Creek, who is trying to rebound from his latest injury-prone years, posted a photo Friday morning of himself decked out in GW gear, announcing that he would be playing as a Colonial next season.

In a phone interview Friday, Creek said he was excited to become a veteran presence on the Colonials’ roster, adding that he had already gelled with some GW players during the offseason.

“I’ve been playing with the guys for a while, and basically they started treating me like family before I was even going to GW,” Creek said. “I’m just glad they found me.”

Maurice Creek announced Friday that he would head to GW. Photo via Twitter

Because of a ruptured achilles in 2011, Creek missed the entire 2011-12 campaign for the Hoosiers and chose to redshirt his junior year. He now has one season of eligibility left to play at GW and will be apart of the Class of 2014.

Despite his history of injuries, Creek brings a high level of experience to the still young Colonials’ backcourt that will include sophomore starters Joe McDonald and Kethan Savage, as well as recruits Miguel Cartagena and Nick Griffin.

“They got bigs that can play and they got guards that can play and they just needed a little bit of help,” Creek said. “They can help me just as I can help them.”

The announcement comes as great news to head coach Mike Lonergan and his staff, after their somewhat low-key recruiting class was overshadowed by the transfers of seniors Lasan Kromah, David Pellom and sophomore Jonathan Davis. This, in addition to the de-commitment of the team’s top offseason recruit Nigel Johnson, and the move on Wednesday of assistant head coach Kevin Sutton to Georgetown.

“[Lonergan's] been watching me since my freshman year and he was recruiting me throughout my years in high school, and I decided on Indiana, but he knew what I could do,” Creek said. “And he just said this is what we need on our team to be successful, and they only needed one more piece, and having me could be that piece.”

Creek, a 6-foot-5 guard was once a top-50 recruit coming out of high school and a Prep-School All-American after his senior year at the Hargrave Military Academy. He put up large numbers in limited time for the Hoosiers during his freshman campaign,  averaging 16.4 points per game and shooting 44.8 percent from three-point range before his season was cut short after 12 games due to a season-ending fractured knee cap.

Returning as a sophomore, Creek put up a respectable 8.3 points per game, but again saw injuries limit his playing time to only 18 games. After the achilles injury in 2011, Creek served as breakout-star Victor Oladipo’s backup, averaging only 1.8 points and 7.8 minutes per game.

Fans will likely have to wait until the beginning of the season to see if Lonergan chooses to continue the youth movement in Foggy Bottom and use Creek as a sixth man off the bench, or if he will trust Creek’s leadership to start over one of his sophomore guards.

He said he would be “just doing what’s required of you. And basically when you get recommended as a high level player you have to play at the highest level at all times, and that’s what I learned at Indiana which is gonna be good when I go to George Washington,” Creek said.

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Kevin Sutton, right, will leave head coach Mike Lonergan's coaching staff to head to Georgetown. Hatchet File Photo

Kevin Sutton, right, will leave head coach Mike Lonergan’s coaching staff to head to Georgetown. Hatchet File Photo

Assistant men’s basketball coach Kevin Sutton will leave the program to take a position at Georgetown – more bad news as the Colonials endure a rough offseason full of departures.

Sutton leaves GW after just two seasons under head coach Mike Lonergan, upgrading to the perennially top 25 Hoya squad led by head coach John Thompson III. Sutton brings with him his 27 years of coaching experience and reputation as a very strong recruiter.

It is unknown at this time what role Sutton will have on Georgetown’s coaching staff, and who will replace him on GW’s bench.

The news was tweeted by former Colonials star Aaron Ware and reported by several Georgetown fan sites. The athletics department did not immediately return a request for comment.

Talk of Sutton leaving the Colonials emerged earlier this year, when he personally submitted his name for the open head coaching position at Florida Gulf Coast University.

His departure leaves Lonergan and his coaching staff in continued recruiting disarray as it has watched three players – David Pellom, Lasan Kromah and Jonathan Davis – transfer from the program, as well as Nigel Johnson decommit from GW in favor of Kansas State.

In his two seasons with coach Lonergan, the Colonials amassed a 23-38 record and ended both seasons with first round losses in the Atlantic 10 tournament. Comparatively, Thompson and the Hoyas finished last season with a 25-7 record and earned a No.2 seed for the NCAA Tournament before being upset in the first round by Florida Gulf Coast.

Previously, Sutton served as an assistant coach at James Madison University and Old Dominion University. Notably at GW, Sutton helped recruit two of the team’s current starters – forwards Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen – both of whom played at two of Sutton’s former schools, Montrose Christian (1999) and Montverde Academy (2004-11).

Immediately prior to coaching at GW, Sutton served as the athletic director and head coach of the boys’ basketball team at Montverde Academy for eight years. He helped lead the Eagles to a 2007 National Title and a 2010 National High School Invitational Runners-Up nod.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013 6:04 p.m.

Lasan Kromah headed to UConn

Then-senior Lasan Kromah looks to pass to an open Colonials teammate. Kromah will take his talents and final year of eligibility to UConn next season. Hatchet File Photo

Former men’s basketball guard Lasan Kromah will use his fifth year of eligibility to play for UConn next season, CBS Sports reported Tuesday.

The move reunites Kromah with former Colonials’ head basketball coach and current UConn assistant coach Karl Hobbs, who recruited him to GW back in 2009, and was later fired following the 2011 season.

As a graduate student in 2013-14, Kromah will get to play immediately for the Huskies, after missing his entire sophomore season at GW due to a torn lisfranc ligament in his left foot. He reportedly will receive UConn’s last open scholarship during his final season.

Coming off the bench for the Colonials this past season, he averaged 10.1 points per game and became a leader for GW down the stretch. He was expected to become a starter for head coach Mike Lonergan’s squad next season before announcing his transfer last month.

Kromah leaves GW having averaged 11.0 points and 4.05 rebounds per game, with a shooting percentage of 44.2.

Kromah will add perimeter shooting and ball handling skills to a Huskies team already loaded in the backcourt. He will likely serve as a role player off the bench, with UConn returning guards Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun to its squad that missed the NCAA tournament last season due to below-standard academic scores.

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Updated: May 17, 2013, 9:45 a.m.

Head coach Mike Lonergan has reportedly snagged his newest recruit of the offseason, as Virginia Episcopal School’s Anthony Swan has committed to GW, a source told CBS Sports.

Those reports were confirmed by ABC-13 WSET-TV on Thursday, stating that Swan, who is the cousin of head associate coach Hajj Turner, has committed to GW. Swan had narrowed down his choices to GW, Miami and Cincinnati, but ultimately decided that becoming a Colonial would be the best fit for him.

Mike Longergan

Men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan has now had his first recruit join for 2014-15, CBS Sports reported. | Hatchet File Photo

Swan, a 6-foot-7 small forward, is a high school junior, so he will not arrive to play on campus until 2014-15, making him the first recruit to declare for that season.

He joins the list of 2013 offseason recruits that includes Skyler White and Miguel Cartegena.

“He’s just a very reserved person, always very positive even through negative times – bad losses and things like that,” Curtis Staples, Swan’s head coach at Virginia Episcopal, said. “He’s always the guy that tells everybody it’s gonna get better, so he’s definitely one of those guys that you want to have in your locker room.”

Last season, Swan averaged 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks for his varsity VES team that went 21-4,5-1 in the extremely competitive Virginia Independent Conference.

Swan’s wing shooting skills will help fill the hole left by recent transfer Lasan Kromah, and could form to a strong combination with White, known for his three-point shot.

“Anthony’s biggest strength is his shooting. He’s a great shooter, so he’s able to stretch defenses and create a lot of problems for a lot of opposing teams because he’s so athletic,” Staples said.

This has been an up-and-down off season for Lonergan, with Kromah, Jonathan Davis and David Pellom leaving the program, and former recruit Nigel Johnson de-commiting from GW.

It is not known at the time whether Swan will receive one of the available scholarship slots upon his graduation next year.
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Wednesday, April 3, 2013 5:27 p.m.

Lasan Kromah to transfer from GW

Junior guard Lasan Kromah heads to the rim against Dayton last season. | Hatchet File Photo

Senior guard Lasan Kromah will transfer from the Colonials next season, a press release announced today.

Because he will be a graduate student transfer, Kromah will be eligible to play right away at any program he chooses to join.

“We appreciate the contributions Lasan has made to our team and we wish him the best in all that lies ahead for him,” head coach Mike Lonergan said in a release.

Athletics communications said Lonergan would not be commenting further on Kromah’s decision. Student-athletes cannot speak to the media without the approval of the athletics communications department.

The news likely takes the head coach by surprise. He told The Hatchet last week that he envisioned Kromah as a starter next year, after the senior spent much of this season providing an off-the-bench spark for the Colonials.

“We decided to bring Lasan off the bench [this season],” Lonergan said. “I thought it was good for [freshman forward] Kethan [Savage], because if Kethan wasn’t playing great, we could always bring Lasan in. It’s hard to bring a freshman off the bench – if he’s not playing well, then you don’t have anybody else. I give Lasan credit – we talked a lot about that, and he was willing to accept that role for the team. And he was still playing starter minutes.”

It’s the latest in a series of player-related blows for GW. Sophomore forward Jonathan Davis will also depart from the program at the end of this year, and senior forward David Pellom has been granted a release. Additionally, standout recruit Nigel Johnson recently de-committed from the program.

Should Pellom depart, given the graduation of Dwayne Smith and Bryan Bynes, that would leave just junior forward Nemanja Mikic as the only player not recruited by Lonergan, who is in his second year at the helm of the team.

Taken altogether, the substitutions seriously deplete a lineup that already struggled heavily with shooting and establishing a potent offensive game.

Kromah was an explosive force for GW during his freshman campaign, averaging 11.8 points per game on 45.7 percent shooting. But he tore a lisfranc ligament in his left foot, sidelining him for his entire sophomore year. Kromah returned to the Colonials’ lineup as a junior, but struggled at times to regain his once-commanding presence on the hardwood before stepping into a leadership role as a senior this year.

Kromah departs GW averaging 11.0 points per game on 44.2 percent shooting with an average of 4.05 rebounds per game.

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GW vs UMass at the 2013 A10 Tournament from The GW Hatchet on Vimeo.

Senior forward Dwayne Smith drives against a Massachusetts opponent during Thursday’s game. Viktors Dindzans for The Hatchet

BROOKLYN, N.Y.- It would be easy to overlook tonight’s ending as one stereotypical of GW’s 2012-13 season: lost by a thin margin in the final seconds.

That would be discounting the multiple players who were performing through injury. It would be discounting the thin trickle of blood that ran down freshman forward Patricio Garino’s forearm after a particularly ugly first-half foul. It would be discounting the grimace on freshman guard Kethan Savage’s face as his ankle was taped so he could return to the floor.

It would be discounting that Massachusetts head coach Derek Kellogg called his team “very fortunate” to have escaped with a 77-72 victory in the first round of the A-10 tournament. It would be ignoring the Colonials’ effort Thursday night.

“I think we played really hard. That’s what I love about this team. I think we always come to fight,” freshman guard Joe McDonald said. “We just came up a little short this time.”

The Colonials (13-17) were within three of Massachusetts at halftime, thanks to two key factors of their play. One, rebounding, was somewhat expected. The other, GW’s success at the line, arguably was not.

The team went 13-15 at the line in the first half, an 86.7 percentage that was a marked departure from the lackluster free throw performances in recent games. It was an important improvement for the team, who saw its shooting ability slip a little over the first 20 minutes of play. The Colonials had many chances, but struggled to convert, missing layups and jumpers en route to a 9-34 first-half shooting performance.

Adding to the first-half frustrations was GW’s 0-5 shooting from three, a statistic Massachusetts took advantage of by sinking three treys of their own.

“The second half was much better, our free throw shooting was better, but we were 0-8 from threes,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “We’ve got to keep that lead.”

Still, over the first 20 minutes of play, neither team’s energy dampened. There were nine ties and five lead changes before the break, with each side battling to maintain an ever-slim lead.

 

Senior forward Isaiah Armwood tries to get a hand in front of Maxie Esho’s shot. Viktors Dindzans for The Hatchet

This fighting mentality was crucial to GW’s performance. Once, twice, thrice it would strike at the basket, earning an 11-6 margin on second-chance points and a 29-16 advantage on the boards.

That tenacity, that follow-through, didn’t quit after the break. The game came down to the wire, and GW toughed it out, ending with a crushing 50-32 rebounding advantage.

“We have pretty good size in there with [senior forward] Isaiah [Armwood], so if the guy has a ball and drives it or something, that’s fine with us,” Lonergan said.

But the shooting struggles haunted the Colonials until the end. They finished the game shooting just 38.8 percent, a 26-67 performance. The team struggled at times against the Minutemen’s press, too, with 18 turnovers over the game.

Further hurting GW was its 0-8 performance from beyond the arc, a crippling statistic given Massachusetts’ seven treys over play. Three of those came from former Colonial recruit Trey Davis, who seemed to nail crucial buckets every time the ball was placed into his hands. Redshirt junior guard Chaz Williams, too, seemed determined to will his team to victory, making crucial driving layups down the stretch.

“[Williams] sort of took over, with his speed. I think we had some tired legs, and just didn’t get back on defense,” Lonergan said. “We made some mistakes, left Trey Davis open for wide-open shots. Those were key plays for us.”

GW hung on through its defense. Crushing Massachusetts on the offensive boards was a key part of the Colonials’ gameplan, and the one-two punch of Armwood and freshman forward Kevin Larsen in the low post proved lethal at times.

The heavy-pressure zone kept Massachusetts from boxing out and it drew costly fouls that saw two Minutemen sit down in the final five minutes, including their-then leading scorer, Terrell Vinson.

“I knew we had to mix our defenses up,” Lonergan said. “Even with the four or five point lead, I knew we were going to have to score more.”

Larsen was one of four players who scored in double digits for GW,  adding 17 points and seven assists. Senior guard Lasan Kromah added 11 points and four assists, while McDonald posted 10 points, three assists and four steals.

Freshman guard Kethan Savage gets his ankle taped early in the second half. Viktors Dindzans for The Hatchet

It was Armwood who was the monster for the Colonials, though. He recorded his ninth double-double of the season with 16 points and 13 assists – but said he wasn’t playing with a chip on his shoulder after being passed over for A-10 awards earlier this week.

“I play like that every game, especially on the boards, so I was playing like that because we wanted to win. We wanted to move on and advance to the next round,” Armwood said. “We didn’t want to come up here and say we came to Brooklyn for fun.”

And so, though it will be easy to look back at this game for everything it was not, it may be more important to examine what it was. It was GW’s first A-10 championship game on a neutral site since 2007. It was a high-stakes, high-pressure environment.

And it was a sign that this program could have a bright future.

“I’m not a good loser. It’s hard to finish the season 13-17, 10-21 last year. Our schedule is going to be really tough next year,” Lonergan said. “I think we’ve got a good nucleus now.”

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basketball, bynes

Senior Bryan Bynes shoots a layup early in the game against Dayton. Hatchet File Photo by Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

There’s a lot hanging over the Colonials’ heads as they travel to Brooklyn for the first round of the A-10 championship.

No one on this squad of players has won an A-10 championship game. It’s the first A-10 tournament game on a neutral site for GW since 2007 – and competition is in the Barclays Center.

On top of that, GW relies partly on four freshmen, a group of starters that has gelled at times over the season, faltered at others. Head coach Mike Lonergan said nerves are inevitable, but added that they’re not just a burden for the Colonials’ freshmen to carry. Pressure, he said, extends across an entire roster.

“I think they feel pressure. Our first few minutes against Dayton, we were missing layups early. There was a lot of pressure, we knew we had to win the game,” Lonergan said. “This is new to a lot of our guys, being in the big games. We try to tell our freshmen,’ hey you’re not freshmen anymore, you’re sophomores.’”

The Colonials will face Massachusetts at 9 p.m. Thursday in the opening round of play. It’s an opponent GW narrowly defeated earlier this season, the team’s Atlantic 10 first road win.

It was also a matchup where freshman point guard Joe McDonald didn’t play like a rookie, tallying his first career double-double with 16 points and 10 assists, with only two turnovers. As the Colonials prepare to retake the court against the Minutemen, including their talented redshirt junior guard Chaz Williams, Lonergan said it will be important for all of GW’s players to bring their best performances to the court.

“We need some of our other guys to bring some energy. That’s what we had at UMass with [senior guard Lasan] Kromah, [senior forward] Dwayne [Smith] had a pretty good game. We’ll play hard, that’s one thing we can control, how hard we play,” Lonergan said. “Rebounding is going to be key. Some of the games UMass lost this year, reading [Massachusetts head] coach [Derek] Kellogg’s quotes, a lot of it was when they gave up a lot of offensive rebounds.”

At the back of GW’s minds, no doubt, is the potential the Atlantic 10 tournament holds. Win Thursday, and the team will face Temple at 9 p.m. Friday – an opponent that the Colonials were excruciatingly close to defeating earlier this year.

And as last year’s tournament shows, when St. Bonaventure won it all, any team has a chance to walk away with the conference title and an NCAA bid. But now, Lonergan said, GW’s focus is on Thursday’s tip.

“We’re taking one game at a time. We’re pretty young and inexperienced. But I think our team is confident,” Lonergan said. “We’re trying to win one game right now. That’s all we’re trying to do.”

This article was updated March 12, 2013, to clarify that Massachusetts was GW’s first Atlantic 10 road win in the 2012-13 season, not first overall road win.

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basketball, bynes

Senior Bryan Bynes shoots a layup early in the game. Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

Five.

It was a game that seemed almost scripted before play began, as senior guard Bryan Bynes returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending injury on Senior Day.

Four.

The game that would decide GW’s postseason future was tied at halftime.

Three.

Then, it was tied in the final minute, on senior guard Lasan Kromah’s 1,000th career point.

Two.

Overtime.

One.

A thundering Isaiah Armwood dunk put GW up. A buzzer-beater three from Dayton, after review, was no good. And the Colonials took home an 81-80 victory.

“I’m excited for the team. And I’m also excited, and I respect Bryan Bynes for coming back,” senior forward Dwayne Smith said. “Him coming back showed character. And he had an awesome game, not great, awesome. He’s part of the real reason that we won.”

The win aids GW’s search for an A-10 championship bid: while the team must wait for the official results of the Richmond, Charlotte and St. Bonaventure games to find out their final rank, it seems likely the Colonials are headed to Brooklyn.

And they’re doing it off the strength of the Armwood putback dunk, a slam so massive it shook the screw and bolt of the backboard loose, lying on the Smith Center hardwood after the game.

“It was any other dunk, it was regular. But since that was the one that put us over the top, gave us that one point, it was everything,” Armwood said. “Once I looked at the bench and saw my teammates jumping up and down, I knew I did something good.”

The Colonials started their seniors, Bryan Bynes – returning from what was thought to be a season-ending injury – and Dwayne Smith taking the floor to begin play.

GW was hot, feeding off the emotion, from the start. A quick 8-0 run allowed the team to jump out to an early lead, but Dayton soon found its strength. The Flyers easily found their way around the Colonials’ man defense, penetrating with ease.

Quick cuts to the basket and effortless midrange jumpers helped Dayton to 57.4 percent shooting on the day, shaking GW early. Pulling his team into a huddle, head coach Mike Lonergan made the switch into the zone.

“We realized that the 1-3-1 was one of the crucial changes,” Smith said. “We stuck with that, we saw our progress, and coach stayed with it. And that’s part of the reason why we won.”

And then, Dayton’s offensive effectiveness dropped. The Flyers began missing shots, or turning it over to GW without making an attempt toward the rim. Slowly, the Colonials clawed their way back into the game.

Dayton had 21 turnovers on the day, mistakes that the Colonials converted into 28 points. Feeding off its defensive energy perhaps, GW’s ball control was markedly better, turning it over just 13 times.

At halftime, the game was tied.

“It was a battle, that’s for sure. We didn’t help ourselves at the free throw line, of course,” Lonergan said. “But we made enough plays to get out of there with an overtime win.”

There would be no easy victories to be had in the Smith Center Saturday. The game saw 11 ties and 11 lead changes.

Though Dayton never quite regained its early offensive flow, the Colonials couldn’t conclusively pull away from the Flyers. GW squandered turn after turn at the free throw line, going just 20-42 on the game. They were easy points that could have helped the team extend a shaky lead- but that wasn’t in the cards.

“It’s something we have to control as a team,” Armwood said. “There’s nothing the coaches can do about it. As players, we have to step up and knock them down.”

Still, the chances at the line still proved beneficial for a team that saw its interior game suffer against the Flyers. With just six assists on the day, GW relied on cuts to the net and paint maneuvers for the bulk of its points on 45.3 percent shooting.

Five Colonials scored in double figures, including Armwood, who had 12 points and eight boards. Kromah posted 12 points and five rebounds, McDonald a team-high 16 points and five boards. But it was Smith and Bynes who shone, combining for 28 points. Smith added five boards and four steals, Bynes three boards and an assist. Their emotional energy was invaluable, Lonergan said.

“That really helped us,” Lonergan said. “Bryan being a quick guard for us on [Dayton forward Kevin] Dillard, it helped us a lot, it made our bench deeper. And Dwayne was fired up today for senior day, and he gave us more contribution than he’s been giving.”

The two seniors’ attitudes carried over to the rest of the team. It was a grinding, hard-fought win, one that saw the Colonials take a 20-5 advantage in second chance points and a 23-7 advantage on offensive rebounds.

It was the sort of fire in their bellies that the Colonials need to carry to Brooklyn.

“It’s not official yet. You never know, with our luck, what could happen,” Lonergan cautioned. “But we are happy we won.”

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The GW players cheer for Armwood as he enters the locker room following the game. Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

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Senior guard Lasan Kromah looks for an opening against Richmond. Hatchet File Photo by Jordan Emont | Photo Editor

There was no second-half comeback this time.

Earlier this season, down 20 points against La Salle, the Colonials embarked on a 19-4 run that cut the lead to five and gave the Smith Center crowd a reason to hang around.

On Wednesday night – in the final road game of the season – GW wasn’t so persistent. The game finished just as the last against the Explorers ultimately did, with another mark in the Colonials’ loss column. This 84-70 defeat has a heightened impact for the Colonials, with only one conference game remaining and the team’s A-10 championship status still hanging in the balance.

GW must beat Dayton Saturday to make it to Brooklyn.

“It’s just hard to come back,” head coach Mike Lonergan said, “when you’re not making open shots and you’re missing free throws.”

Up 10-9 early in the first half, it appeared GW might be able to hang with the third-ranked-team in the A-10. That wasn’t the case, though.

La Salle turned up the heat, storming ahead on a 19-4 run and leaving the Colonials wondering if they would to make it to playoff basketball. Igniting and bolstering La Salle’s run was the nights’ one man wrecking crew: Explorers’ senior guard Ramon Galloway.

“You try not to let the best player beat you, but he definitely hurt us tonight and had a great game,” Lonergan said.

Galloway finished with a game-high 29 points on 11-17 shooting, putting GW’s defense in fits the entire night.

But for the Colonials, he was just the beginning of their problems, with the inability to find an effective defense proving to be most fatal.

“We played a man-to-man defense to start and we just didn’t guard the three point line well,” Lonergan said. “They were going by us and kicking it for threes and we weren’t doing a good job guarding the threes, so we called a timeout and got out of that.”

Nothing was getting the job done. When GW went to man, La Salle’s guards had no trouble blowing past them to the basket. The easy points led to 61 percent shooting for the Explorers on the game.

When the Colonials switched to a 1-3-1 zone, the Explorers showcased their spot-up shooting. Despite coming in with the game plan of limiting La Salle’s long-range attempts, GW just simply left too much space for the lethal shooters.

At the end of the half, the Explorers had made 10 three pointers – compared to only one for GW – and would go on to record 12 treys for the game. Trying to get a head start on a much-needed comeback, GW began to claw away at La Salle’s lead over the end of the first. A jumper here and a lay-up there gave the team some momentum, but a Galloway drive or outside three constantly put another speed bump in its run.

With one final possession left in the first, the lead was down to eight, but a déjà vu floater by La Salle guard Tyreek Dyren put the margin back up to double digits.

“They were playing for the last shot and their guy fumbled the ball and I thought one of our guys could’ve dove for the ball,” Lonergan said. “But they just stood there and he picked it up and hit a shot at the buzzer. So it was a big momentum killer.”

In the second half, GW just couldn’t get the lead below double digits, accomplishing nothing more than trading baskets with the Explorers. The team certainly had its chances, able to get the ball inside, but blown lay-ups and turnovers led to the eventual 84-70 loss.

One bright spot in the game was GW’s performance on the glass, outrebounding La Salle 28-17, but that was expected with the small four-guard line-up that the Explorers like to suit up. And the Colonials again struggled at the free throw line, going 5-10 in the game and failing to get to the free throw line in the first half.

Senior forward Isaiah Armwood used his height advantage inside to lead the team with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Also scoring in double-digits was freshman guard Kethan Savage, who used a strong first half to put up 12 points, and senior guard Lasan Kromah, who made the lone three-pointer for GW and finished with 15 points.

This loss certainly increases the difficulty of the Colonials making it to the A-10 tournament, but their fate is still in their hands.

“We gotta win Saturday.  It’s like a one game season,” Lonergan said. “I guess Duquesne was winning, but then lost in overtime, so we didn’t get any help there, so basically we’ve gotta beat Dayton.”

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Freshman forward Kevin Larsen battles a tough Saint Louis defense at the Smith Center on Saturday. Cameron Lancaster | Hatchet Photographer

There weren’t any dramatic last-minute shots, or devastated players crumpling to the court. There weren’t any shouts, or disbelieving glances at the scoreboard.

But there wasn’t an upset, either. There wasn’t a rush onto the court, and there weren’t a few overjoyed players celebrating the sort of statement victory they’ve been seeking all season.

The quiet ending of GW’s loss to No. 18/19 (AP/USA Today) Saint Louis didn’t tell the whole story. As the two teams left the court, the Billikens walked away with a 66-58 victory. The Colonials walked away knowing they had, at one point, possessed a slim lead that brought with it the potential for an unexpected victory.

“Up three with seven minutes left, with three timeouts left, I thought we were in great shape,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “And we definitely had trouble getting to the line, trouble scoring. So once they got that lead, it’s hard.”

As Saint Louis got out to an early 6-0 start, the Colonials (12-15, 6-8 A-10) struggled to get inside. Shot after shot was stuffed, and the team’s post play suffered.

But after the first media timeout, GW seemed to take the court with renewed energy, feeding off freshman forward Kevin Larsen and senior forward Isaiah Armwood. Larsen was able to explode for ten first-half points, while Armwood patrolled the post, pulling down six boards. It was enough to push GW to 20-14 first-half points in the paint advantage, critical against the Billikens’ more successful shooters.

Up six at halftime, Saint Louis gleaned much of its strength off of two shooting areas where it was able to dominate GW: from three and from the charity stripe. The Billikens made four treys over the course of the first, and further widened the gap thanks to GW’s 3-for-7 line on free throws.

“Their guards were actually straight line driving us, taking us to the rim,” Lonergan said. “I knew in the second half, we were going to try to play some 1-3-1 to keep that from happening. Because we can’t get enough help the way their bigs shoot threes. Their bigs play like guards.”

Out of the break, the Colonials refocused on attacking their opponent, turning on the sort of pressure that’s stymied them so many times this season.

Switching into a zone, GW was able to disrupt Saint Louis’ game: setting screens, posting up and cutting down the Billikens’ ability to drive through the lane. It paid off: Saint Louis struggled to regain an offensive rhythm, and the Colonials took advantage of that on the other end to use a 16-4 run that gave the team a slim one-point lead.

“We were trying to speed up the tempo with the 1-3-1, and really get the ball out of the shooter’s hands,” senior guard Lasan Kromah said.

And for a while, the game stayed that tight. As Saint Louis started to find ways around GW’s zones and through its doubleteams, the two teams traded baskets. The lead volleyed back and forth, never by more than a point or two.

Slowly, though, the Billikens began to pull away. A trickle of scoring gradually turned into a stream, and combined with ill-timed Colonial turnovers, Saint Louis closed on a 21-10 run to put the game away.

“We were trying to play physical,” Lonergan said. “We missed some easy shots, our guys felt they were getting fouled. We just didn’t get any calls. It’s tough.”

Much of Saint Louis’ advantage came at the line. Though GW was able to control the perimeter more tightly, allowing just one trey in the second half, it was crippled by its 53.3 percent free throw shooting.

The Billikens shot 87.5 percent from the charity stripe- and scored many of those points down their crucial final stretch.

“I thought we just had some defensive breakdowns and they had a lot of free throws,” Kromah said. “And they made a lot of free throws. And we were sending them to the line a lot.”

The Colonials found some offensive success in the paint, with Larsen leading the charge again for 14 points and four boards. Armwood recorded five blocks on the day, adding 10 rebounds.

Senior guard Dwayne Smith and Kromah added 10 and 12 point, respectively. The two were responsible for all but three of the Colonial bench’s points in the game, the sort of veteran presence Lonergan looks for in his seniors.

“We want to leave here saying that we did something for our school, something to remember in years going on,” Kromah said. “It’s really important for us. We try to get the young guys focused, too.”

But at this point in the season, moral victories can ring hollow.

With a postseason bid and a trip to Brooklyn on the line, Lonergan and his players want just one thing- for the final scoreboard to show a Colonial victory.

“This time of the season, there’s no time for a moral victory. We have to get some wins under our belt,” Kromah said. “These next two games are going to be really important for us.”

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