Your Guide to GW sports


men’s basketball

On top of their best season in seven years, six members of the men’s basketball team received a conference-high eight postseason basketball awards, the league announced Tuesday.

It’s the second-most awards for GW in program history and the most since 2005-2006.

Sophomore Kevin Larsen earned the Chris Daniels Most Improved Player award for his improvement from his freshman season. After averaging 8.5 points and 5.0 rebounds a season ago, Larsen increased his averages this season to 11.3 points and 7.1 rebounds. Larsen is the first GW player to earn the award since Pops Mensah-Bonsu did it back in 2004.

Kevin Larsen goes up in the post against VCU earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Kevin Larsen goes up in the post against VCU earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Senior Isaiah Armwood took home two awards Tuesday, earning Second Team All-Conference honors, as well as a spot on the conference All-Defensive team. “The Blockness Monster” finished the regular season ranked second in the A-10 in rebounds at 8.7 per game and sixth in blocks, totaling 49 for the year. On the offensive end, Armwood is averaging 12.3 points per game, which ranks 23rd in the conference. Armwood finished the regular season tied for third with 10 double-double’s on the season.

Senior Armwood sends home a dunk earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Senior Armwood sends home a dunk earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Like Armwood, sophomore Patricio Garino also picked up two awards Tuesday, joining Armwood on the All-Defensive team and being selected to Third Team All-Conference. Playing just 23 games for GW due to a finger injury, Garino was responsible for picking up the slack left after sophomore Kethan Savage’s regular-season ending injury. Garino did just that, finishing the regular season averaging 12.3 points, while shooting 57.5 percent form the field, good enough for sixth best in the conference. On the defensive end, Garino, who was a preseason pick to take home all-defensive honors, averaged 1.6 steals per game, ranking fourth in the conference.

Sophomore forward Patricio Garino slices between two UMass defenders earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Sophomore forward Patricio Garino slices between two UMass defenders earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Joining Garino on Third Team All-Conference is graduate student Maurice Creek. Creek was the offensive general for the Colonials all season, leading the team at 14.6 points per game. Throughout the season, Creek’s high-scoring efforts were complemented by his scoring from beyond the arc, where he ranked seventh in the conference at 40.9 percent from three. Creek averaged 2.6 three point field goals per game, ranking fourth in the conference, and finished the season with 74 made threes. In GW’s last regular season game against Fordham, Creek knocked down a career-high six three’s.

Guard Maurice Creek hits a jumper earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Guard Maurice Creek hits a jumper earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Topping off the list for GW were junior John Kopriva and senior Nemanja Mikic, who were tabbed to the conference’s All-Academic Team. With the two selections, GW becomes the most decorated academic program in league history, with 15 selections to the All-Academic team since its debut in 1991. Mikic also becomes the 13th A-10 student-athlete to earn All-Academic Team honors three times in a career. Earlier this season, Kopriva was named to the CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District 2 First Team.

Third-seeded GW will head to Brooklyn, N.Y., for the Atlantic 10 Championship quarterfinals this Friday at 9 p.m.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
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.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

It’s been a week since the Colonials nearly upset Saint Louis last Saturday. A week to think about what’s left to be done and for head coach Mike Lonergan to get his team back to early season form, stating after Saturday’s loss that his team had lost its swagger.

With just three games to play before the Atlantic 10 tournament, and the Colonials still fighting for a top four finish in the conference, Lonergan told his team it’s officially a three-game season. First up, a rematch against George Mason.

In their last meeting on Jan. 25, GW topped GMU 75-69 at the Patriot Center. The Colonials handed the Patriots their sixth-straight conference loss, while improving to 4-1. But since then, GMU has gone 3-4, beating A-10 foes such as Massachusetts and Richmond, while losing in overtime to the Billikens. GW has done slightly better, going 4-3 in that period.

The Colonials will go for the Revolutionary Rivalry sweep Sunday when they face off against the Patriots. | Courtesy of GW Athletics

The Colonials will go for the Revolutionary Rivalry sweep Sunday when they face off against the Patriots. | Courtesy of GW Athletics

“They had been playing everybody tough early in the year and were just kind of snake-bitten,” Lonergan said at a practice Friday. “Now they’ve gotten some wins and got their confidence up and they’re definitely one of the better offensive teams in our league.”

The Patriots continue to be led by the senior duo of Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen. In the seven games since the two teams’ last meeting, Wright has averaged 20.5 points per game, while Allen has averaged 19.1. Anchoring the defense is redshirt freshman Jalen Jenkins, who ranks 16th in the conference at 6.3 rebounds, pulling in 8.3 rebounds in GMU’s last three games. In January, Jenkins, along with senior Johnny Williams, hurt the Colonials with outside jumpers and aggressiveness on the glass.

“They rebound good, they play good defense and last time we got burned with their big men shooting elbow jumpers. I think he [Williams] hit like four of them,” sophomore Kevin Larsen said. “We’ve got to be ready to go out and close out under control and make him drive.”

But for Lonergan, it’s not about scouting Mason as much as it is scouting his own team. Lonergan said Friday that there are three keys for the Colonials to get back to their winning ways; knocking down shots and getting back to focusing on rebounding and defense.

“I think we stopped getting better and started losing the focus of our program, which is really defense and rebounding,” Lonergan said “If your shots don’t drop, you can still guard and you can still help a team in other ways and we’ve got to all recognize that. So we got to get our energy and enthusiasm back and I think we’ll have a great crowd the next two home games.”

As a team, GW has shot just 36.3 percent from the field over its last three games. To change that, Lonergan is continuing to hope that graduate student Maurice Creek will find his stroke. Creek, who’s been the pulse of the team all season long, struggled mightily against Saint Louis last Saturday, not scoring his first bucket until seven minutes into the second half. Lonergan said that he needs Creek to produce, because when the guard is on, it’s contagious.

“We’ve got to get Maurice Creek hitting shots because I think when he was hitting shots, it opened things up for Nemanja Mikic who was shooting really well, but now his numbers are down too,” Lonergan said. “We’re gonna try and get [Creek] some open shots and hopefully he’ll get back on track. He had a very good all-around game at Mason and he’s due for a breakout game.”

With the conference tournament now just two weeks away and a possible NCAA tournament appearance to follow, it would be easy for GW to overlook a GMU team that sits near the bottom of the conference. But the Colonials seem focused and ready to return to the Smith Center floor where they are 12-1 on the season.

“There’s no room to look ahead. We’ve got to focus on each game at a time and on Sunday we’ve got George Mason and right now that’s the most important game on the schedule,” Larsen said.

Tip off for this Revolutionary Rivalry matchup is at 1 p.m. Sunday.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

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.

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Then-freshman forward Kevin Larsen battles a tough Saint Louis defense at the Smith Center last year. Hatchet File Photo by  Cameron Lancaster

Then-freshman forward Kevin Larsen battles a tough Saint Louis defense at the Smith Center last year. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster

Who: No. 10 Saint Louis University (24-2, 11-0)

When: Saturday 8 p.m.

Where: Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis

Even if GW can tune out a raucous crowd and get past Saint Louis’ conference-leading defense , the Colonials will have an even greater obstacle Saturday: the Billikens’ experience and poise late in the game.

Saint Louis starts five seniors who have helped the team to win close games in conference play. The Billikens enter Saturday’s matchup as winners of 18 straight games, with their most recent victory coming in overtime against George Mason Wednesday.

Out of the team’s 11 conference wins, two games have been won in overtime, and five games have been decided by four points or less. Their only two losses this season have come against No. 16 Wisconsin and No. 3 Wichita State.

“It shows me what a team that starts five seniors can be,” GW head coach Mike Lonergan said during a practice Thursday. “They don’t get flustered and they find ways to win, and that’s what makes them a great team.”

The Billikens average 71.3 points per game and shoot the ball at 44.4 percent. SLU boasts three players who average double figures in scoring, led by senior Dwayne Evans who ranks 13th in the conference at 14.7 points per game. The Billikens best all-around offensive player however is senior guard Jordair Jett. Jett has great ability to get to the basket and draw defenses. He averages 13.7 points per game, and ranks second in the conference in assists at five per game.

As a team, the Billikens average 14.5 assists and turn the ball over 12.1 times per game, which yields the second best assist-to-turnover ratio in the league.

Senior forward Rob Loe will also give the Colonials fits, especially in the frontcourt, Lonergan said.

Loe, who stands at 6-foot-11, is a surprisingly strong perimeter scorer and can pass the ball well. In his last five games, Loe has averaged 14.2 points while shooting 12-for-25 from beyond the arc.

“Loe’s been doing a good job of hitting three’s lately, and really creates matchup problems,” Lonergan said. “[Larsen is] going to have to do a good job of making sure he gets out on him.”

The Billikens outscore their opponents by an average of 11.5 points per game, which ranks first in the conference. But their offense shouldn’t get all the credit.

They rank first in the conference and 12th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 59.9 points per game. Opponents shoot 39.4 percent from the field against the Billikens and 26.7 percent from beyond the arc. SLU forces 14.7 turnovers a game, many coming in the form of steals. The Billikens only trail VCU at 7.8 steals per game, with four players recording at least 25 steals so far this season.

“Their defense is what has my attention really,” Lonergan said. “They just do such a good job of denying things and taking you out of your offense.”

GW will have to play at their best if they plan on handing Saint Louis just its second home loss of the season, but the Colonials have some momentum entering Saturday’s game after a big road win at Richmond Tuesday.

“I’m telling them we had a nice road win at Richmond and now we have an opportunity to play a top 10 team in their building,” Lonergan said. “We’ve got nothing to lose but we’ve got to go in there and make sure that we’re confident, that we play loose, and win or lose this is only one game in our season.”

GW continues to be led by the scoring of graduate student Maurice Creek, who in the past four games is averaging 16 points. After successfully using Creek off the bench in Tuesday’s game, Lonergan said that he is unsure of his gameplan for Saturday’s matchup.

The Colonials will also look for another strong performance from sophomore guard Joe McDonald. McDonald logged heavy minutes against the Spiders, finishing with 14 points and five rebounds. Against a stingy Billikens defense, GW will look to McDonald to handle the ball and organize offensive sets. Lonegran did mention that he will need the rest of his backcourt to step up and help McDonald.

“We need to stay loose and have fun,” forward Isaiah Armwood said. “We think we can beat them. They’re a good team but we’re a good team as well.”

  • Permalink
  • Comments
Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 6:49 p.m.

McDonald, Creek listed as day-to-day

Joe McDonald and Maurice Creek are both listed as day-to-day for Wednesday’s game against Duquesne, according to an athletics department spokesman.

McDonald was sidelined after reinjuring his hip last week in a game against La Salle, while Creek was a late scratch for Saturday’s road game at Dayton due to illness.

If one or both players return to the lineup Wednesday night, GW will get a huge lift. McDonald has cemented his role as a floor general this season and has successfully been able to run head coach Mike Lonergan’s half court offense as well as provide good pressure on the defensive end. McDonald leads the team in both assists and steals.

Creek, on the other, hand has added experience and court leadership to a relatively young Colonials team. Creek leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game, and is GW’s best free throw and three point shooter.

Comcast Sportsnet reported last night that both McDonald and Creek had been listed as doubtful.

The Colonials will try and stay perfect at home Wednesday when they host visiting Duquesne at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

  • Permalink
  • Comments (1)

Sophomore guard Kethan Savage will be out six-to-eight weeks with a left foot fracture, the men’s basketball team announced Tuesday, dealing the Colonials a big blow in their surprising season.

After initially being listed as day-to-day with a left ankle sprain, further evaluation revealed that Savage had actually sustained a fracture to the fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Savage’s injury, sustained in the final minutes of GW’s 79-71 victory over St. Bonaventure, will likely have him out for the rest of the Atlantic 10 regular season.

“It’s disappointing for Kethan to have this happen in the middle of his breakout sophomore season,” head coach Mike Lonergan said in a press release. “But as a team we’ve dealt with injuries before and have emerged stronger as a unit.”

Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in GW's upset win last Tuesday. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in GW’s upset win last Tuesday. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Before his injury, Savage was the second-leading scorer for the Colonials, averaging 13.4 points per game. Savage also led GW in total steals (36), and was second in total assists (49) and total blocks (12).

Without Savage on the floor, expect Lonergan to insert sophomore Patricio Garino, who has recently come back from an injury of his own, into the starting lineup. Since his return, Garino has arguably been the team’s best player, but has remained on the bench to add a mid-game scoring spark and keep team chemistry intact.

Also expect freshman guard Nick Griffin, who is averaging just 4.3 minutes per game, to see increased playing time in the backcourt.

“We’ll look forward to his return to action, but I have every bit of confidence that we’ll overcome Kethan’s absence. In the meantime, this is a great opportunity for all his teammates to step up at this time.  That is a mark of a great team.  We are all very excited for the rest of the season ahead,” Lonergan said.

GW returns to the court Saturday when they will travel to face George Mason at 12 p.m.

  • Permalink
  • Comments (2)
Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 1:55 p.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball at St. Bonaventure

Who: GW (14-3, 2-1) vs St. Bonaventure (11-6, 1-2)

Where: Bob Lanier Court at the Reilly Center

When: Sat. Jan 18. @ 7 p.m.

Case for Saint Bonaventure:

It’s been a learning process for St. Bonaventure this season. After losing essentially all of their offensive production with the departures of Eric Mosley, Demetrius Conger and Chris Johnson, scoring for the Bonnies was up in the air. None of the players on this season’s roster had averaged double figures.

Two seniors have stepped up for seventh year head coach Mark Schmidt: Matthew Wright and Charlon Kloof. Wright ranks seventh in the conference in scoring at 16.0 points per game and Kloof ranks second in the conference in assists at 4.8 assists per game.

In the frontcourt, senior Isaiah Armwood and sophomore Kevin Larsen should have their hands full with junior Youssou Ndoye and redshirt-senior Marquise Simmons. Ndoye is a 7-foot, 245 pound junior who shoots 50.0 percent from the field and leads the team in rebounding at 5.8 per game, while Simmons ranks third in the conference in field goal percentage at 64.7 percent and averages 8.1 points per game. Saint Bonaventure ranks 93rd in the nation in total rebounds, pulling 37.5 rebounds per game, and are one of the top offensive rebounding teams in the conference, averaging 13.5 offensive boards per game.

The Bonnies have three players averaging double figures in scoring and average 75 points per game while shooting the ball at 46.3 percent. Their play has most certainly stepped up since Atlantic 10 play started, coming off two tough single digit losses to No.16 UMass and No. 24 St. Louis. On Saturday, though, they will be at home where they are a perfect 7-0 on the season.

Case for GW:

GW is coming off of a huge conference win against VCU Tuesday, and with that victory came career-high performances from Larsen and sophomore Patricio Garino – two names, not Creek or Savage, that fans haven’t been too accustomed to so far this season.

If their production continues, it will only give head coach Mike Lonergan more sure-fire options and the ability to spread the floor. GW now has five players scoring in double figures: Creek, Savage, Armwood, Larsen and Garino.

The Colonials will be in search of their first conference road win Saturday, after dropping their conference opener at La Salle Jan. 9.

Statistically, the Bonnies and Colonials are just about even. In order for GW to come out on top in Olean they will need to pressure St. Bonaventure ball-handlers as well as limit turnovers on the offensive side of the ball. The Bonnies turn the ball over 13.3 times per game, however, they make up for their own turnovers by forcing 15.5 turnovers on the defensive end, second only to VCU. It will be important for ball-handlers, Savage and sophomore Joe McDonald, to have another strong performance running the offense.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

A sellout crowd of 4,874 screaming GW fans. Expected.

Twenty-one turnovers against the fast and aggressive “Havoc” defense. Expected.

A 76-66 win over VCU – the preseason pick to win the Atlantic 10 conference. Incredible.

Thanks to career performances from sophomores Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino, the Colonials grabbed the upset win, solidifying their position as a true contender in the A-10, while improving to 9-0 at home on the season.

“It’s a special win for us because one of our goals was to go undefeated at home, and I told the guys we can reach all our goals if we go undefeated at home and this is a big game for us,” head coach Mike Lonergan said.

Tonight, a sold out Smith Center crowd got to witness the Kevin Larsen that Lonergan has been waiting to see since he brought him here two years ago.

After scoring 17 points in the first half Tuesday, going 7-8 from the field and tying his career high, Larsen would continue to break down the VCU (13-4) frontcourt. He set the tone for the game, Lonergan said, hustling up and down the floor to help break the VCU press – something Lonergan said would be crucial heading into the game. The 6-foot-10 sophomore visibly outmuscled VCU defenders, leading to easy looks at the basket.

“I wanted to get revenge from last year,” Larsen said. “Juvante Reddic had 23 [points] and 10 [rebounds] on me last year so I was kind of looking forward to this matchup and just trying to give him my best and it worked out well for me.”

Larsen led an inside attack that, besides three GW free throws, scored the first 17 points of the game for the Colonials. The highly-touted VCU defense looked almost invisible after their press was broken, and GW made them pay, as they went on to outscore the Rams 40-28 in the paint.

The Colonials first field goal outside the paint wouldn’t come until 8:55 left to play in the half – a three-point field goal by Garino.

“You know he broke his finger and he’s had a lot of setbacks, so it was really special to see him hit some threes when we needed to hit threes,” Lonergan said. “Other guys have been struggling for a while, so I’ve always felt that if he can get that jumper going, he’s going to be a pro.”

After a three from VCU’s Rob Brandenburg to answer with 7:35 to play in the first, GW would embark on a 16-4 run to go into the half with a seven-point lead, something Lonergan said he was both surprised and happy about.

Garino would keep things rolling for GW in the second half, scoring 14 points of his career-high 25 points over the last 20 minutes. After the game VCU head coach Shaka Smart called Garino the “sparkplug” off the bench for the Colonials.

One of the big questions entering Tuesday’s game was how Lonergan would handle the VCU defense, which leads the nation in steals per game and has the highest turnover margin in the A-10. Despite turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, the Colonials found ways to consistently break the VCU press, mostly with long cross-court passes and multiple options at half court.

The ability to get the ball up court quickly led to lots of good scoring opportunities for the Colonials – a big factor in the team’s 56 percent shooting from the field, compared to just 36.8 percent for VCU.

Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in GW's upset win on Tuesday night at the Smith Center. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in GW’s upset win on Tuesday night at the Smith Center. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

“We knew we were going to have turnovers during the game, its nothing new, we just kept playing, we don’t think about the past play, we just keep going and keep fighting,” Garino said.

Instead of bringing up the ball with sophomore point guard Joe McDonald, who was guarded by the nation’s leader in steals, Briante Weber, Lonergan handed the ball to sophomore Kethan Savage who would only turn the ball over twice in the first half. Weber would record just a single steal in the entire half.

GW may have been able to open the game up more in the first half had the Rams not shot so well from behind the arc. The VCU shooters started extremely hot, going 6-8 from three in the first half, sometimes crushing the spirits of the GW defense that fought hard all night. The Colonials would have to wait until the second half to expand their lead, as VCU missed seven-straight threes to open up the second.

Eventually going 3-16 in the second half from beyond the arc, the Rams moved to attacking the inside, and did so successfully, after senior Isaiah Armwood had to sit with four fouls. The Rams showed plenty of fight down the stretch, forcing 11 second-half turnovers and cutting GW’s lead to four, but unlike Colonials teams of the past, GW was able to hold onto their lead and make clutch play after clutch play to close it out.

GW would outrebound the Rams 45-29 on the night, led by a 11-point, 14-rebound night by senior forward Isaiah Armwood.

GW will head to New York on Saturday where they will play St. Bonaventure.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Nick Ong contributed to this report.

  • Permalink
  • Comments

On Tuesday, the men’s basketball team will look to stay perfect at home this season with a win against the VCU Rams. Here are some more interesting things to look out for at the Smith Center tomorrow.

The uniform that the Colonials will wear Tuesday. Photo courtesy of GW athletics.

The uniform that the Colonials will wear Tuesday. Photo courtesy of GW athletics.

Although the game is a presumed sellout, about 600 tickets were sold to Rams fans. With that may come a certain free-throw distraction for the Colonials. Against George Mason last week, the VCU pep band unveiled a giant “space kitten” banner, the same kitten seen in Miley Cyrus’s American Music Awards performance last November.

After playing a cover of Cyrus’s wrecking ball, and revealing the kitten near song’s end, the band continued to use the image to VCU’s advantage to distract GMU free-throw shooters.

George Mason would go 9-16 at the free throw line, and the Rams remained unbeaten at home defeating the Patriots 71-57.

The VCU pep band's space kitten. Photo courtesy of

The VCU pep band’s space kitten. Photo courtesy of

GW, though, will have something else up their sleeve, or rather on their jersey. The Colonials will be wearing brand new gray uniforms with images of the White House, Capitol and Washington Monument on the back – the same images that are now etched on the Smith Center floor.

The Colonials are 8-0 on their homecourt this season and will definitely need the support of the home crowd to take down the Rams and their “Havoc” defense.

So what’s the key for GW come Tuesday night? Keep the VCU band in the middle sections of the Smith Center or prepare for the cuteness that is the space kitten.

Nick Ong contributed to this report.

  • Permalink
  • Comments