Your Guide to GW sports


Mike Lonergan

Redshirt junior guard Matt Hart handles the ball in GW's win over Gardner-Webb Tuesday morning. Hart had his second double-digit scoring game in a row, notching 13 points. Camille Ramasastry | Hatchet Photographer

Redshirt junior guard Matt Hart handles the ball in GW’s win over Gardner-Webb Tuesday morning. Hart had his second double-digit scoring game in a row, notching 13 points. Camille Ramasastry | Hatchet Photographer

For the second time in head coach Mike Lonergan’s tenure, the Colonials have started the season 5-0 after a 94-65 drubbing of Gardner-Webb Tuesday morning.

With five scorers in double figures, even worry-prone Lonergan couldn’t help but admit that he felt “really good.”

“I thought it was a great game for us,” Lonergan said. “We played pretty well for most of the 40 minutes.”

Redshirt junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh led the way with 20 points and added 7 rebounds. He hit both of his two three-pointers and was 6-8 from the free throw line, with teammates putting him in the right spots all game. The Colonials tallied assists on 21 of 31 buckets, with Cavanaugh notching three of them himself.

The Wake Forest transfer is now averaging 14.8 points per game through five games with the Colonials.

“Kevin [Larsen]’s been getting me easy baskets every game,” Cavanaugh said. “Yuta [Watanabe] shot well today so they stretched it out, and guys were finding me in easy positions where I could score and it’s been a good transition, just got to keep on working on the defensive end.”

Watanabe added 19 points of his own on 5-for-7 shooting, finding his stroke after it had eluded him in previous contests.

Lonergan, careful not to be too pleased with his team’s performance, jokingly circled numbers on the stat sheet after the game and poked them at Watanabe. When asked what he was pointing out, Lonergan quipped that Watanabe was really 6-7 from the free throw line, not 6-6 as the sheet suggested, because a Gardner-Webb lane violation had negated one miss.

He didn’t have much else to nitpick. Watanabe sank 3-of-5 three-point shots, and avoided foul trouble which has limited him in previous contests.

“I was struggling with my shot the last four games but everyone told me to keep shooting,” Watanabe said. “And then today I felt like I took pretty good shots. I feel like I finally moved forward so I feel good.”

On top of Cavanaugh and Watanabe’s production, senior swingman Patricio Garino added 16 points, junior guard Matt Hart added 13 and Larsen added 12 as the Colonials outshot the Runnin’ Bulldogs 54.4 to 39.7 percent from the field.

Joe McDonald was held without a point, but had a game-high 10 rebounds, helping the Colonials outperform Gardner-Webb 43-27 off the glass.

“I’m mad at [McDonald] today, he kept stealing my rebounds,” Cavanaugh joked. “It’s been great, he’s the toughest player I’ve ever played with. And I mean today, I think he played a great game and I saw the stat sheet and I think he had zero points and I’m like, what? So he just affects the game in so many ways and he’s huge for our team. He’s the guy that makes everything go.”

And the Colonials didn’t need any more scoring. They did have another defensive lapse in the second half,

Redshirt junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh fights through a post-trap in the Colonials' win over Gardner-Webb Tuesday. Cavanaugh scored 20 points and collected 7 rebounds. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Redshirt junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh fights through a post-trap in the Colonials’ win over Gardner-Webb Tuesday. Cavanaugh scored 20 points and collected 7 rebounds. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

allowing Gardner-Webb to match them with 41 points in the second frame. The turnover margin was 10-4 in the Colonials’ favor at the break, but they forced just three in the second half and committed 10 of their own to end -1 in that category.

Part of that was because the bench got involved late in the game. No Colonial played more than Larsen’s 27 minutes, which should have the team rested going into a Friday night matchup with Tennessee in the Barclays Center Classic. Depending on the result, GW will face either No. 24 Cincinnati or Nebraska the next day.

Tipoff on Friday will be at 9 p.m. Tuesday’s game was held at 11 a.m. because the game was DMV Kids day in the Smith Center. Several thousand screaming elementary school students lined the stands, mostly rooting for the Colonials over the Runnin’ Bulldogs (though they were rooting for Spongebob videos on the jumbotron the most). They also got autographs and participated in a clinic with the team after the game.

Lonergan, a Bowie, Md. product himself, reminisced about going to a Notre Dame-Maryland game with his father as a kid and said it meant a lot to him to get local kids in the Smith Center, which is why he went for the early game.

“Today is really rewarding,” Lonergan said. “I have five kids, obviously, but really rewarding day for me as a coach and I was very happy with the turnout and hopefully those kids will come back and maybe I can recruit some of them some day!”

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Midway through the second half of GW’s game against Army Sunday night, junior guard Matt Hart got a breakaway off a steal by junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh. The 6-foot-1-inch Hart sprinted down the court as he’d done twice before in the game, but when he reached the basket, he indulged for a moment, foregoing the easy layup for a two-handed slam dunk.

Senior point guard Joe McDonald goes up at the rim in GW's 92-81 win over Army Sunday night. McDonald was 6-6 from the free throw line. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior point guard Joe McDonald goes up at the rim in GW’s 92-81 win over Army Sunday night. McDonald was 6-6 from the free throw line. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

At the time, the Colonials were answering a 18‒5 Army run that had pulled the Black Knights out of an 11-point halftime deficit and into the momentary lead. But behind Hart’s career-high 17 points, 21 from senior Kevin Larsen and another 18 from senior Patricio Garino, the Colonials came away with the 92‒81 win.

“I think we realized we needed to get going,” Hart said. “I personally think I told the guys, you know we’ve got to pick it up a little bit and we just sparked. We got a few easy buckets and I think that always helps, to see the ball go through the net, and we just played our game, both offensively and defensively.”

With Garino cutting to the basket and Larsen owning the low post, the Colonials (4‒0) outscored Army (3‒1) 40‒20 in the paint and outrebounded the Black Knights 40‒33. Cavanaugh approached a double-double with 11 points and 9 rebounds.

Not thrown by Army’s aggressive full-court press, the Colonials executed their offense in the half court smoothly.

In the first half, they began feeding the ball inside – Larsen had 10 points within the first 10 minutes – and finished with Hart hitting a series of pull up jumpers, including a long three, and getting to the free throw line where he was 4‒4 in the game. Hart had 11 of his points by halftime, when the Colonials led 46‒35.

GW’s defense, especially in transition, was unflummoxed by Army’s running and gunning in the first half. Army swingman Kyle Wilson, who entered the game hitting 60 percent of his shots, was 2‒8 from the field at the break.

But Wilson finished 5‒15 for 16 points after getting going in the second half, as did forward Tanner Plomb who scored 17 of his game-high 27 points after halftime. GW’s defense dropped off as it has before this season, and allowed the Black Knights to match the Colonials with 46 second-half points.

“I think we get complacent,” Larsen said. “It’s not so much at the offensive end. It’s more the defensive end. Like three games now we’ve let teams go off in the second half and it’s definitely something we’ve got to work on.”

The Black Knights came out of the break and went on a 15‒3 run, capped by a three from Plomb, which gave Army the lead at 50‒49 for the first time in the game. It was the seventh of 12 threes Army would hit in the game, on 28 attempts.

At that time, things weren’t falling for the Colonials. Garino executed a move to the basket, but his layup attempt whizzed around the rim and stuttered against the backboard before falling away to the side.

If Army had been shooting better than 33.3 percent from the line at the time, things would have been a lot worse for GW. The Black Knights shot 46.2 percent for the game to GW’s 50.8, but went just 9-for-20 from the free throw line while GW hit 26 of 33, allowing the Colonials to pull away as shots began to fall again.

“We’ve just got to get more consistent,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “South Florida and tonight, I thought we had chances to put the other team away. Like I said, I’m happy we won but I would like to see us put our foot on the pedal and end it and with our experience I think we should be able to do that.”

Sophomore forward Matt Cimino did not dress for the game and was wearing a boot on his right foot. Lonergan said that Cimino is day to day with a minor foot injury and could be back for the Colonials’ Tuesday morning matchup with Gardner-Webb.

Tipoff against the Runnin’ Bulldogs is set for 11 a.m. on Tuesday from the Smith Center.

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Senior guard Patricio Garino and junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh look for a rebound in GW’s 73-67 win at USF Thursday night. Garino led the Colonials in scoring with 18 points for the second time this season.  Media Credit: UCF Athletics

Senior guard Patricio Garino and junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh look for a rebound in GW’s 73-67 win at USF Thursday night. Garino led the Colonials in scoring with 18 points for the second time this season. Media Credit: UCF Athletics

TAMPA, Fla. –It wasn’t pretty, the final score was closer than the Colonials or their fans would have liked, but GW secured its first road win of the season nonetheless in a 73-67 decision over South Florida Thursday night.

For the second-straight game, senior swingman Patricio Garino led the visitors with 18 points. Sophomore guard Paul Jorgensen followed close behind with 16, many of which came at pivotal moments, while his senior counterpart at the one, Joe McDonald, added a game-high 13 boards.

“We’ll take it. Any road win is a good win,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “I wish it was easier, but this is a game that I don’t know if we would have won last year. We hung in there, we finally made some free throws down the stretch, but we gave them their confidence.”

Despite outshooting the Bulls (0-3) from the field 41.8 percent to 35 percent and matching USF with a season-high six made three-pointers, the Colonials (3-0) were dominated on the glass 49-37 on the night.

GW would secure double-digit leads multiple times throughout the contest, but its deficiencies on the boards allowed the Bulls to get back in it. Colonial big men, senior forward Kevin Larsen (4 points) and junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh (10 points), who fouled out with 7 plus minutes to play, combined for just nine rebounds.

“Their best offense was really offensive rebounds. I give them credit, they played hard, but we weren’t boxing out,” Lonergan said. “Our point guard had 13 rebounds, but our big guys weren’t really rebounding at all. It was frustrating because in the first half I thought we had some good stops and then they would get an offensive rebound.”

The Colonials forced 16 turnovers in the six-point victory, giving away the ball only 10 times themselves and recording eight steals to USF’s five. But, GW seemed to struggle defensively in spurts, and the Bulls made them pay.

While USF only led the game for a minute and change, a win never seemed like a sure-thing for the Colonials until the game’s waning minutes. In front of a relatively small, but loud Sun Dome crowd, the Bulls cut GW’s lead to single digits frequently by finding ways to the basket.

“They were throwing in some tough shots, but the most disappointing thing for me was just that they were getting to the rim at will, kind of like Brogdon did in the second half of our last game, and that’s something we’ve really got to address, and do a much better job of containing dribble penetration,” Lonergan said.

Luckily for GW, Garino and Jorgensen were able to do the same thing to the Bulls’ defense. The team’s two dynamic leading scorers found a handful of ways to score, many times halting dangerous USF momentum with a clutch three-pointer or a fast-break bucket.

“We were calm throughout the game, we’re pretty confident this year, we have a lot of tools, a lot of personnel to overcome any kind of situation and I think today you can clearly see the experience we have that maybe we lacked a couple of years ago,” Garino said. “With our maturity and patience we put the game away.”

Jorgensen, despite being assessed a technical foul after hitting a layup, complemented McDonald’s physical effort with much needed scoring. The guard said after his basket he directed an “and-one,” exclamation at his teammates on the bench to pump them up, but the officials misinterpreted it.

In addition to his 16 points, Jorgensen added four rebounds, two assists and one steal.

“I thought I was always at the right place at the right time. I think we executed our stuff well and coach had us in the right spots,” Jorgensen said. “I think expectations were high for me from my coaches and my teammates, so I’m happy I’m playing well right now.”

The close game was ultimately sealed at the free throw line in the final minutes of the second half by graduate student guard Alex Mitola. The Dartmouth transfer hit six free throws in row, his only points of the night, to give the Colonials the cushion they needed despite a 70 percent team clip from the charity stripe.

The Colonials are back in action Sunday night, when they look for their fourth consecutive win of the season against Army at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Center.

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Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015 6:11 p.m.

Preview: Men’s basketball vs. No. 6 UVA

Then-freshman Yuta Watanabe drives toward the paint in GW's game against Virginia last November. The Colonials second game of the home-and-home agreement will be broadcast on ESPN2 as ESPN's first men's college basketball game of the 2015-16 season Monday. Hatchet File Photo.

Then-freshman Yuta Watanabe drives toward the paint in GW’s game against Virginia last November. The Colonials second game of the home-and-home agreement will be broadcast on ESPN2 as ESPN’s first men’s college basketball game of the 2015-16 season Monday. Hatchet File Photo.

What: Men’s basketball (1-0) vs. No. 6 Virginia (1-0)
Where: The Smith Center, Washington, D.C., ESPN2 (TV)
When: Monday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.

Just three days after the season opener, men’s basketball plays what could be its biggest game of the season. The Colonials host No. 6 Virginia in the first men’s basketball game of ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon, seeking revenge for a second-half flop in Charlottesville last year in which GW led by four at the half but ultimately fell 59‒42.

Now, playing at home, the Colonials will try to recreate that for all 40 minutes and come away with what would be a huge win.

Here’s what to expect from the game:

Case for the Colonials: Virginia’s Achilles’ heel is a tendency to have bad shooting spells, particularly from three-point range. They ultimately ran away with the game, 86‒48, but the Cavaliers got off to a cold start in their season opener against an overmatched Morgan State, shooting 34.3 percent in the first half and 16.7 percent from beyond the arc.

That was how the Colonials kept pace early in the game against Virginia last year, even when the Cavaliers had their best three-point threat in Justin Anderson, who now plays for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA. Anderson shot a team-high 45 percent from beyond the arc last season and Virginia’s overall three-point shooting percentage dropped from 35.2 to 29.9 during an eight-game stretch when Anderson was injured last year.

Virginia’s turnover numbers also went up without Anderson, from 9.3 per game overall to 11.125 per game during the stretch he missed. Scouts and analysts seem to think they’ll pick up right where they left off, but it’s possible his graduation is more of a hit than has been realized.

If the Cavaliers go cold, it will be up to GW to make its shots. Playing against Virginia’s pack-line defense, which led the nation in allowing just 51.4 points per game last year, makes outside shooting critical. The Colonials were bad from beyond the arc in their season opener Friday, making just two of 17 three-point attempts, but are a better shooting team than last year and should be able to recover and hit some buckets.

“We’ve got to be able to score with them,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “They’re not a high scoring team but they control the tempo. And we had a lot of scoring droughts last year. I don’t think we’ll have as many this year but I think a big key for us in the Virginia game, we’ll have to make threes.”

Playing in the Smith Center, though, is always a huge advantage for the Colonials. Judging by what Virginia’s players said when asked about the game after their season opener, it’s their biggest fear as well.

“They are a really strong team. We’re going to go into a crazy environment,” redshirt senior forward Anthony Gill said. “They have everyone back from last year, so we just have to be ready for their best punch. We have to be ready for that kind of environment, too. They have a small gym with the fans right on top of you.”

Case for the Cavaliers: One of the critical matchups in the game will be senior guard Patricio Garino on all-ACC first teamer Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon had a bad game in Virginia’s season opener Friday, shooting two-for-seven from the field and missing all four three-point attempts for just five points in 21 minutes, but don’t expect that to happen twice. If anything, he will be more motivated to perform up to his skill level.

“He’s a different type of player,” Garino said. “He’s not the type of player that you see with all these highlights, super athletic or making all these moves. I think he’s super solid. He takes care of the ball a lot, he really knows how to read the game, has a super high IQ and that’s what makes it more difficult. You can’t second guess anything.”

The Colonials often show their 1-3-1 defense to force opponents into bad perimeter shots, but Lonergan said he doesn’t plan on using it much because it is also meant to force turnovers, which the Cavaliers don’t commit often. He will likely stick to a contained man defense and not press much.

That’s because of the matchup, but it’s also to conserve energy. UVA comes into the game more rested after playing no one for more than 23 minutes on Friday, while four starters played 25 minutes or more for GW in its season-opener.

Senior forward Kevin Larsen, who played 29 minutes against Lafayette, will have to find all the energy he has Monday. He draws a nice matchup in center Mike Tobey and should benefit from more space with the addition of redshirt junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh, but can’t afford another performance like he had last year at UVA where he was swallowed by double teams and ended up shooting one-for-three with four turnovers.

“It’s going to be good revenge,” Larsen said. “I had a bad game last year so I’m pretty excited for it. It’s going to be fun.”

Bottom line: The Cavaliers are the favorite, but GW has had a big non-conference win over a ranked team in each of the past two seasons. This time, the balance will hang on the Colonials’ ability to make outside shots.

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Redshirt junior Tyler Cavanaugh fights for a basket in the Colonials' win against Lafayette on Friday. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Redshirt junior Tyler Cavanaugh fights for a basket in the Colonials’ win against Lafayette on Friday. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

All week long leading up to GW’s season opener against Lafayette, men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan urged caution and preached patience. To the team, on the radio, after practice and to anyone, it seemed, who would listen, he said that this could be a trap game.

Had the game gone differently, Lonergan ran no risk of being criticized as overconfident, but it didn’t. The Colonials’ game went according to plan Friday night when they dominated the paint and cruised to an 85-76 win over the Leopards while playing 11 men deep.

“I thought we came out ready to play and did a good job, we wanted to establish the inside game,” Lonergan said.

A week after he made his coach promise to mention his assist-turnover ratio during the press conference after GW’s exhibition game, senior forward Kevin Larsen put up gaudier statistics, leading his team with a career-high 24 points and adding 11 rebounds.

Fellow big man Tyler Cavanaugh also posted a double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds to help GW to a 42-20 lead in points in the paint, 50-32 rebounding margin and 43.5 percent shooting from the field.

Larsen scored almost at will in the paint, making seven-of-10 attempts from the field and 10-of-13 from the free throw line. It was clear before the first media timeout that Larsen, who walked off the court snarling and high fiving opponents after sinking a jumper from the stripe and drawing a foul, was going to have himself a game. He also added three blocks and an assist with three turnovers.

“I was just trying to set the tone for my team, be aggressive, and I know that opens up a lot of other things for people but I shot 13 free throws today,” Larsen said. “I think that’s the most ever I’ve gotten close to, so I think that helped a lot.”

Had the team shot well from outside, they might have won by more. Senior point guard Joe McDonald got each of his three points from the free throw line, missing all four attempts from the field. Lonergan said that McDonald hadn’t practiced much during the week due to a “minor injury” but that he was fine and was only going to be held out of the game late if it was no longer in question. McDonald played 25 minutes and did take a trip to the locker room, but only because of a scrape between the eyes.

Sophomore guard Paul Jorgensen added 10 points and four assists, sophomore forward Yuta Watanabe had seven points and seven boards and graduate student guard Alex Mitola added five points, but the three combined to miss eight three-point attempts. GW ended the game shooting two-for-17 from beyond the three-point line.

“I spoke to our alumni before the game and I said I think we can really shoot and then we went out and went two-for-17 from threes,” Lonergan said. “But I don’t think, a guy like Alex he missed four open ones and he’s a great shooter so I don’t think that will happen too often.”

Eight players saw more than 10 minutes, allowing everyone to go into one of the biggest games of the

Senior Patricio Garino goes for a layup in the Colonials' home opener against Lafayette. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Patricio Garino goes for a layup in the Colonials’ home opener against Lafayette. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Staff Photographer

season, Monday night’s matchup with No. 6 Virginia, relatively rested. Senior guard Patricio Garino had the most exhausting assignment, playing a team-high 34 minutes and often defending the Leopards’ best player, point guard Nick Lindner.

Lindner was held to a single bucket from the field during the first half, but got going in the second to keep Lafayette in the game. He finished with 27 points, 21 of them coming in the second half.

“They played much harder than us in the second half and that’s something we have to work on going into Monday night’s game,” Cavanaugh said.

Lindner was joined by senior guard Zach Rufer, junior guard Monty Boykins and sophomore forward Matt Klinewski as Leopards to score in double figures but, shut down inside, the team shot just 33.3 percent from the field and 28 percent from beyond the arc.

Aside from often drawing Lindner on defense, Garino also contributed 17 points and two blocks, slicing and dicing in transition while hitting two-of-three three-point attempts.

The Colonials also had a good night from the free throw line, making 29 of 40 attempts, though Lonergan said he wants to see those numbers improve to around 80 percent.

With the first win of the season in the books, Lonergan admitted after the game that he’d been watching a little bit of Virginia tape in preparation for the game. The Cavaliers, as well as the ESPN cameras and a whole lot of hype, visit the Smith Center at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.

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Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015 12:59 a.m.

Basketball teams ink eight new Colonials

Five players signed National Letters of Intent to join the men’s basketball program during the early signing period, and three did the same to join the women’s basketball team, both programs announced Wednesday.

Point guard Darnell Rogers, combo guard Jair Bolden and forwards Kevin Marfo, Collin Smith and Arnaldo Toro signed with men’s head coach Mike Lonergan while women’s head coach Jonathan Tsipis added shooting guards Harper Birdsong, wing Kendall Bresee and combo guard Kendra Van Leeuwen to the 2016-2017 class.

“I’m excited because five guys, I think they’re all quality young men and they’re all good basketball players,” Lonergan said of his signees. “I think we have all our needs kind of covered.”

Smith was the first to commit to join the Colonials, which he did at the end of last spring. Lonergan called him the best shot blocker he’s had since Isaiah Armwood and touted the 6-foot-10-inch center’s athleticism.

After getting Smith, Lonergan and his staff faced a dry spell until October, when an avalanche of recruiting news started to pour in. Rogers came first on Oct. 6, and Marfo and Bolden followed in quick succession in the month of October.

“All these guys have played high level AAU, and then obvioulsy Kevin Marfo is probably the most decorated, he’s probably the most decorated recruit we have and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t come in here and be a four year starter,” Lonergan said.

Lonergan praised the three-star recruit Marfo’s rebounding and said he was as highly recruited of a player as he has ever gone after. Marfo is rated 31st nationally at the power forward position.

He said that through the months when news was slow to come in, he told his staff that “the harder you work the luckier you get,” and that some players waited “on the Dukes and Kentuckys, and some of them just wanted to take their time and that’s understandable.”

Lonergan’s philosophy is that if he can get a recruit to take a visit, especially an official visit, he feels good about his chances. Finally, three-star prospect Toro, a versatile post with a nice outside shot who averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds per game last season for St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, N.J., which was ranked in the national top 25 by USA Today, rounded out the group.

Tsipis and the women’s program, meanwhile, were busy bolstering their backcourt.

The 5-foot-10-inch Birdsong won back-to-back Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools (TCIS) regular-season titles and a tournament championship in 2014 with Nansemond-Suffolk Academy and was named the 2015 TCIS Player of the Year after averaging 19.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game her junior season.

In a release, Tsipis called her a “dynamic scorer” and compared her to former standout Megan Nipe (’14) because of her quick release.

Tsipis made another player comparison when he likened the 5-foot-11-inch Bresee to junior shooting guard Hannah Schaible. The Maryland product, Bresee, averaged 20.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game with Urbana High School in 2015, making it all the way to the Maryland 3A state finals.

“Kendall has the ability to attack the basket and shoot the three, and she rebounds the ball with an aggressive nature,” Tsipis said.

Van Leeuwen gives the team an experienced, athletic player who played for the Canadian Junior National Team at the 2014 U-17 FIBA World Championships and helped her St. John’s College team win four straight city and regional titles.

“Kendra is a skilled combo guard who can really stretch the defense with her 3-point shooting,” Tsipis said. “She can really create shots for others and will be very comfortable in our transition game.”

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Sophomore Yuta Watanabe drives to the basket in the Colonials' win versus Gannon. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Sophomore Yuta Watanabe drives to the basket in the Colonials’ win versus Gannon. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

GW basketball has returned.

The Colonials opened their 2015-2016 campaign Saturday night with a 92-47 drubbing of the Gannon Golden Knights (DII) in an exhibition match in which the entire lineup saw substantial minutes.

Behind five separate double-figure performances, a team-high 15 points and six rebounds from sophomore forward Yuta Watanabe and 48 points from its bench, GW cruised to the 45-point victory.

“It was good for all of us to play in front of this environment again and be back at the Smith Center, it’s always good playing here,” senior guard Joe McDonald, who had 12 points, three rebounds and three assists on the night, said.

As expected, McDonald, Watanabe, junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh, senior forward Kevin Larsen and senior guard Patricio Garino took the floor as GW’s starting five. The group came out rolling and quickly put

Senior Kevin Larsen goes up for a layup in the Colonials' exhibition win against Gannon. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior Kevin Larsen goes up for a layup in the Colonials’ exhibition win against Gannon. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Gannon in a 10-0 hole.

With the double-digit lead, head coach Mike Lonergan got his bench involved early in the exhibition. But up against mostly GW second stringers, Gannon immediately stopped the bleeding and embarked on a 10-point run of its own to even the score.

“We were up 10-0 and we were trying a lot of combinations with guys who aren’t normally going to play much,” Lonergan said. “[Gannon] shot something like 47 percent in the first half which was disappointing but second half they only shot 23 percent, so I thought our defense was pretty good.”

While the Colonials’ newer players looked disorganized at times, like during two first-half turnovers by sophomore guard Anthony Swan, the majority seemed to eventually find their rhythm.

Graduate student and Dartmouth transfer guard Alex Mitola looked comfortable dictating play at the one and put up 13 points on the night, including eight points to lead the bench in the first half. Freshman guard Jordan Roland, sophomore guard Paul Jorgensen and junior Matt Hart also looked good offensively off the pine, combining for 29 points in the contest, though Hart struggled to finish the plays he did a good job of creating when he didn’t end up at the free throw line. Hart finished with seven points and went 4-5 at the stripe but was 1-8 from the field.

After the Knights’ mini comeback, GW turned up the heat and never looked back. The Colonials answered with a commanding 17-3 run later in the frame to earn a double-figure cushion, thanks to an aggressive defense that forced 29 Gannon turnovers on the night, while only giving the ball away themselves only eight times.

The defense looked stronger in the second frame, as GW held the Knights to just 17 points in the final half. Rebounding on the night, however, was a toss-up with both sides securing a total of 36 each.

In addition to Watanabe and Mitola, McDonald, Jorgensen and Roland all scored in double-figures. Every Colonial got a bucket with the exception of freshman forward Collin Goss and GW averaged a 47.1 percent clip from the field, but the three-ball only dropped seven times on a combined 24 attempts.

The Colonials also found themselves in some foul trouble in a choppy match where the teams combined for 60

Sophomore Paul Jorgensen fights through a defender in the Colonials' win Saturday night. Camille Ramasastry | Hatchet Photographer

Sophomore Paul Jorgensen fights through a defender in the Colonials’ win Saturday night. Camille Ramasastry | Hatchet Photographer

fouls. Swan fouled out with five, while Cavanaugh and Watanabe posted four each.

“There were a lot fouls definitely but we talked about it during timeouts and we still executed so that’s the main thing, and our turnovers were limited so that’s always a plus,” McDonald said.

GW kicks off its regular season schedule Friday Nov. 13 against Lafayette at home.

“We’re a work in progress,” Lonergan said. “I’m glad we have another week to prepare for a very well-coached Lafayette team, but I’m excited about this group, I really think we have a lot of weapons.”

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Coach Mike Lonergan speaks to his team during a timeout of the Buff & Blue Scrimmage Saturday morning. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Coach Mike Lonergan speaks to his team during a timeout of the Buff & Blue Scrimmage Saturday morning. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Fans got to see the men’s basketball team in action on the court for the first time this season during the Buff & Blue Scrimmage Saturday morning. Take these with a grain of salt, as players switched teams frequently and transfer Jaren Sina, who has to sit out this season, was allowed to play, but here are five observations from the game.

1. Alex Mitola is lights-out
The graduate student guard will be a welcome addition to GW’s offense. He looked like the best pure shooter on the team, draining several three-pointers without hitting the rim, looking comfortable from upwards of 20-feet out and still showing a good sense for when to pass instead of shoot. The former Dartmouth star looked quick, athletic and motivated and should be one of the first two options off the bench this season.

2. Depth is still an issue
Right now, the team seems about seven deep. The starting five, sophomore Paul Jorgensen and Mitola all seem ready to contribute solidly, but beyond that the team is a mystery. Finding depth to spell bigs Kevin Larsen and Tyler Cavanaugh, especially, would require other players to grow up fast. Sophomore Matt Cimino was around a lot of good plays, but didn’t assert himself physically, allowing Cavanaugh to bury a three right over him during one play. 6-foot-10 freshman Collin Goss had a welcome-to-college-ball moment when 6-foot-1 guard Joe McDonald jumped and beat him for a rebound, and rookie Jordan Roland got lost at times. Sophomore Anthony Swan did appear more physical and competitive than he looked in limited minutes last season.

3. Big to start, small off the bench

With Jorgensen and Mitola looking like the top options from the pine, head coach Mike Lonergan is going to be playing small ball when trying to get rest for his starters. Lonergan has said that this season’s starting lineup will be the biggest he has ever had and, besides McDonald, each of the starting five is capable of real damage around the rim. When Lonergan subs, however, the skill set of the team will change drastically, so pay close attention to how the coaching staff handles this transition. This would be even more drastic if Division III transfer Matt Hart, who played well in transition and showed the most energy on the team, proves himself as a solid contributor.

Junior transfer Tyler Cavanaugh puts up a layup under a block from Yuta Watanabe in the Buff & Blue Scrimmage Saturday morning. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Junior transfer Tyler Cavanaugh puts up a layup under a block from Yuta Watanabe in the Buff & Blue Scrimmage Saturday morning. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

4. Tyler Cavanaugh is flying under the radar

Kevin Larsen has gotten plenty of attention from media and coaches around the league, making the All-Atlantic 10 Preseason Second Team, but fellow big man Cavanaugh looks barely a step behind him even though he has received less attention. Cavanaugh, unproven recently but coming from Wake Forest in the Atlantic Coast Conference and entering the season in noticeably great shape, seems like the real deal. The bulkier Larsen beat Cavanaugh on a few moves inside, but Cavanaugh drained outside shots as well as being active around the rim. That combination should not only help Larsen get enough space to live up to his own hype, but help Cavanaugh get some recognition of his own.

5. Rules changes will take some getting used to
The scrimmage was played, as the games will be this season due to NCAA rules changes, with a 30-second shot clock. The four-foot charge circle had been printed on the court, the old three-foot circle still within it. For the most part, the changes weren’t too noticeable. Lonergan did once try to call a live-ball timeout, which he can no longer do. The shot clock buzzer also sounded a few times, and perhaps it will more often in a real-game situation with a real-game commitment to defense, but it didn’t seem like the players were consistently anticipating more time than they had.

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Kevin Marfo, a three-star recruit out of Worcester Academy (Mass.), has verbally committed to the men’s basketball team.

“I am grateful and appreciative to all the schools that recruited me. But I will be spending the next four years at George Washington University,” Marfo said in a tweet Friday.

The 6-foot-8-inch forward will join the Colonials’ frontcourt in 2016, selecting GW over Providence, Boston College, DePaul and Atlantic 10 foe Rhode Island, according to NBC Sports.

Marfo averaged 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds playing for BABC this summer in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball league. He is listed as the No. 148 player in his class overall by Rivals.

The fierce rebounder, who weighs in at 235 pounds, is the second recruit Lonergan and the Colonials landed this week.

Darnell Rogers, a 5-foot-3 inch point guard verbally committed to GW Tuesday. He is the son of 1999 A-10 player of the year and former GW guard Shawnta Rogers.

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Darnell Rogers, son of George Washington Hall of Fame guard and 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Shawnta Rogers, has committed to play for the Colonials, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported Tuesday.

The 5-foot-3 high school senior at Shiloh High School in Georgia visited GW over the weekend and said that head coach Mike Lonergan has been recruiting him for the last four years. His family has maintained close ties with the program.

“My dad is an alum, and I have a family relationship with the coaching staff,” Darnell Rogers told ESPN. “Their starting point guard is leaving when I come in. It’s a great situation for me and I also love D.C.”

The elder Rogers, who stood at 5-foot-4 during his senior season, holds GW program records in assists (634) and steals (310) and is sixth on the all-time points leaderboard in points at 1,701. He earned All-Conference awards in each of his four seasons at GW. GW made the postseason all four of those years from 1995-1999, including three NCAA Tournament appearances. He went on to play professionally in Europe for more than a decade after college.

Darnell Rogers has scored nearly 1,000 points and averaged 27.4 points, five assists and 4.2 steals per game over the past two seasons at Indian Land High School in South Carolina before transferring to Shiloh for his senior season.

He played AAU basketball for team CP3 over the summer with the top-ranked player in the country, Harry Giles.

Rogers joins forward Collin Smith in GW’s class of 2016.

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