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Mike Lonergan

Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Updated: July 23, 2016 at 3:55 p.m.

Men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan posted on his Facebook page Friday amid “verbal and emotional abuse,” allegations reported by the Washington Post.

“I have always loved my family and that family includes our basketball family. My life is dedicated to them,” the fifth-year head coach wrote. “I have never done anything but love my players and supported them on or off the court-not just for 4 years but for life. That will continue.”

“I want to thank all my players and their parents who publicly and privately supported me today and refuted the false allegations made against me. You are the reason I’ve been able to live such a blessed life. God bless you all! John 8:32.”

The statement comes one day after the Post published an article that cites former and current players, as well as former team staffers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the “offensive, intolerable environment” created by Lonergan.

Scott Tompsett, Lonergan’s attorney, also provided ESPN with a statement on behalf of the coach on Thursday afternoon.

“The Washington Post article is full of lies and half-truths. For example, GWU administrators did not ‘address concerns’ with Coach Lonergan last year. Rather, they looked into allegations and after a thorough investigation, concluded that Coach Lonergan had not violated University policy and that no further action would be taken.”

“The fact of the matter is that the anonymous accusations are not new and they are not true.”

“Coach Lonergan has a well-earned reputation in the college basketball world as a coach who runs his program with integrity and respect. He has always been a champion of diversity and inclusion. Coach Lonergan celebrates those values. Coach Lonergan is proud of his team and its accomplishments both on and off the court. He will aggressively defend himself and his program against false and defamatory accusations.”

A number of former players, including Patricio Garino, Isaiah Armwood and Maurice Creek have publicly defended their former coach.

A GW spokesman said in a statement to the Hatchet Thursday that the University will be bringing in outside counsel to assist in the investigation of allegations against Lonergan.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that head coach Mike Lonergan’s Facebook post had been deleted. Nothing has been deleted off of Lonergan’s Facebook page. We regret this error.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016 5:19 p.m.

Former players defend Lonergan on Twitter

Updated: June 21, 2016 at 10:51 p.m.

Several former players came out in defense of Mike Lonergan on Twitter Thursday after the Washington Post reported damning allegations against the fifth-year men’s basketball head coach.

Speaking to the Post under the condition of anonymity, multiple former and current players, as well as former team staffers, detailed the toxic environment Lonergan created through “verbal and emotional abuse,” as well as inappropriate comments made about Athletic Director Patrick Nero.

Recent graduate and Argentine Olympian Patricio Garino, part of Lonergan’s 2016 NIT Championship team last season, said he was, “shocked,” upon reading the accusations.

“Coach [Lonergan] is very old school and he’s going to push you to the limits to reach your potential,” Garino said in a statement posted to his Twitter account Wednesday.

“I owe a lot of my success to Coach Lonergan and his coaching staff through four years, I truly wouldn’t be close to playing in the Olympics if it wasn’t for him,” he wrote. “I love all my teammates that I had through four years but I don’t agree with their ‘anonymity’ to say things behind a screen. If you have a problem solve it face to face. I will be loyal to the GW family, Nero and Lonergan for life.”

Isaiah Armwood and Maurice Creek, who helped the Colonials reach the 2014 NCAA Tournament as a senior and graduate student, respectively, also took to Twitter to denounce the report.

This is 100% bullshit. Verbal and emotional abuse. Are you serious? Players are soft…,” Armwood said in a tweet. “I was under Lonergan for 3 years. We bumped heads often, but this story is ridiculous,” read another.

“Man listen Coach Lonergan is a great coach…Haven’t even read the story and I won’t read it..This article is ridiculous #StopTheNonsense,” Creek wrote.

Garino’s tweet was also liked by graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh, entering his second and final season at GW this fall, and former point guard Joe McDonald.

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Current and former men's basketball players and staffers said head coach Mike Lonergan created an uncomfortable team environment. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Current and former men’s basketball players and staffers said head coach Mike Lonergan creates an uncomfortable team environment. Hatchet file photo by Dan Rich | Photo Editor

Updated: July 21, 2016 at 10:52 p.m.

Fifth-year men’s basketball head coach Mike Lonergan has come under fire for “verbal and emotional abuse” of players, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The article cites former and current men’s basketball players as well as team staffers who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The allegations follow three offseason transfers from the program, and a total of 13 transfers in the past five years.

“I don’t think the guy should be in sports,” one former player told the Post. “I don’t think what he said should be tolerated. I would like to stay at GW. I will not play for Mike Lonergan.”

“A lot of kids transfer because they have delusions of grandeur,” a former team staffer added. “Nobody transferred from GW with delusions of grandeur. They just transferred because they hated him. They couldn’t stand another second of him.”

One complaint was filed to Title IX Coordinator Rory Muhammad as recently as early April, following the team’s 2016 NIT Championship, according to the Post. The player said Lonergan created an offensive, uncomfortable environment and complained the coach had made repeated graphic remarks about Athletic Director Patrick Nero.

Muhammad told the player that Lonergan’s behavior had previously been “handled,” according to the Post.

Among other complaints, five current and former players said Lonergan told them Nero “requested the practice tapes so he could masturbate while viewing them in his office.” Other current and former players said Lonergan told one player in front of the team that “he should transfer to a ‘transgender league.’”

“I will not respond to anonymous, unfounded allegations,” Lonergan told the Post. “These types of accusations have already been investigated by the University and found to be groundless.”

“Those who know me know that I conduct myself and run my program with integrity. I have a long record of graduating student-athletes who go on to be successful in life. I am proud of my student-athletes’ success on the court and in the classroom, and I am focused on preparing for the upcoming season,” he added.

“As reported today by the Washington Post, the George Washington University is undertaking a Title IX review of allegations against men’s basketball coach Mike Lonergan,” a university spokesman told the Hatchet in an emailed statement Thursday. “Some of the reported allegations go beyond the scope of Title IX, and the university is bringing in outside counsel to assist in its investigation.  The university expects full cooperation and will not tolerate retaliation during the course of the investigation.  We will also continue to inform the student-athletes on our men’s basketball team of the university’s support and of the resources available to them.”

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the Washington Post article was published Wednesday. It was published Thursday. We regret this error.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016 4:30 p.m.

Men’s basketball signs Justin Williams

Annapolis Area Christian School guard Justin Williams has signed a National Letter of Intent to join the men’s basketball program, head coach Mike Lonergan announced Tuesday.

Williams becomes the sixth member of the 2016-2017 class, joining guards Darnell Rogers and Jair Bolden, forwards Kevin Marfo and Arnaldo Toro and center Collin Smith who signed with the team in November.

“Justin is a straight-A student who is also a very talented athlete,” Lonergan said in a release. “He has great potential and because of his work ethic, we expect him to have a bright future at GW in the classroom where he will major in engineering, and on the court where he gives us a strong and athletic small forward. We are excited about the depth Justin gives us at the wing position.”

The 6-foot-3-inch Glen Burnie, Md. native transferred to AACS from Mount St. Joseph’s after his sophomore year and scored more than 1,100 points in his two seasons as an upperclassmen, leading his team in scoring with 18 points per game as a junior and 24 per game as a senior.

Williams also led AACS to two regular-season league titles and scored 41 points in the championship game as team captain his senior year to garner the Most Outstanding Player of the Independent School Tournament award.

The signing follows a flurry of departures from GW, as sophomores Paul Jorgensen, Anthony Swan and Matt Cimino all announced transfers earlier this offseason.

While the Colonials will now return just six players from last year’s roster, and two starters in rising redshirt senior Tyler Cavanaugh and junior Yuta Watanabe, Lonergan found depth and experience with the addition of Harvard transfer Patrick Steeves in late April, who has two years of eligibility remaining.

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Harvard transfer Patrick Steeves has committed to the men’s basketball program according to a report from CBSSports’ Jon Rothstein Friday.

Steeves becomes the newest member of a Colonials team that finished its 2015-2016 season as NIT Champions. He joins the 2016-2017 squad that is returning starters sophomore Yuta Wantanabe and redshirt junior Tyler Cavanaugh.

The Montreal, Quebec native sat out his first three years with the Crimson due to recurring injuries to his foot and knee.

After graduating from Harvard this spring, Steeves will be able to join the Colonials immediately with two years of eligibility remaining.

As a 6-foot-7 forward, Steeves did not start this past season but was an important contributor at Harvard down the stretch and in conference games. He averaged 9.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his senior year.

Steeves’ 45.8 percent shooting from three-point range should prove useful for the Colonials after the loss of sharpshooter and fellow Ivy League transfer Alex Mitola.

 

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Sophomore guard Paul Jorgensen drives to the hoop in GW's victory over Saint Peter's. Jorgensen is set to transfer out of the men's basketball program this offseason. Ashley Le | Hatchet Photographer

Sophomore guard Paul Jorgensen drives to the hoop in GW’s victory over Saint Peter’s. Jorgensen is set to transfer out of the men’s basketball program this offseason. Ashley Le | Hatchet Photographer

Sophomore guard Paul Jorgensen will transfer out of the men’s basketball program, according to a tweet by CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

Jorgensen averaged 4.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game across 38 games played during the Colonials’ 2015-2016 NIT Championship campaign.

Sharing the GW’s sixth man spot with graduate student guard Alex Mitola, Jorgensen averaged 15.7 minutes per game, the most by any non-starter. His 81 total assists were the third-most on the team.

With the help of two former players, head coach Mike Lonergan recruited the 6-foot-2-inch guard into the program two years ago.

The New City, N.Y. native averaged 17.8 points per game in his senior season at Don Bosco Prep, and had already earned nicknames like “The Prince Harry of Harlem” and “White Jesus” on New York City’s street-ball courts before arriving at Foggy Bottom.

In his freshman year, Jorgensen averaged 3.6 points, 1.3 rebounds and 10.2 minutes in 35 games played.

Jorgensen’s departure opens up yet another spot on the 2016-2017 men’s basketball roster, as the team also loses Mitola and three seniors this offseason. The GW backcourt will return Yuta Watanabe, Matt Hart, Jordan Roland and junior Jaren Sina, a Seton Hall transfer who sat out this past season per NCAA rules.

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The National Invitation Tournament Champion men’s basketball team was honored by the D.C. Council Tuesday with a resolution congratulating the team on its success.

The well-wishers have been well-wishing pretty much non stop since last Thursday, when the Colonials defeated Valparaiso to earn GW’s first-ever win in the finals of a national postseason tournament. Everyone has wanted a piece of the Colonials and, frankly, it looks exhausting.

Head coach Mike Lonergan barely had time to towel off after getting doused after the win.

LETS GOOOOO!!!!!! #BannersDontLie #GoGetIt

A video posted by Maurice Joseph (@coachmojo_gw) on

That must have been a weird trip through security. Right after the win, Lonergan, his family and the rest of the coaching staff flew off to Houston for the Final Four. Lonergan didn’t even sleep, though assistant coach Carmen Maciariello caught a bit of shuteye. This reporter has been unable to discern whether those are shorts or capris.

The Final Four gave Lonergan a chance to reconnect with some other members of the GW basketball community, like Notre Dame men’s basketball head coach and GW Athletics Hall of Famer Mike Brey.

Brey had been supporting the Colonials all along.

Dickie V was there.

Awesome, baby!

The team went home to D.C., where the Washington Nationals had some congratulations for them, too.

Victory is sweet.

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Thursday, March 31, 2016 10:31 p.m.

Photos: The Colonials celebrate an NIT championship

We were at Madison Square Garden Thursday for the Colonials’ historic NIT championship win. Here’s a look back at the celebration:

Senior Kevin Larsen lifts up senior Joe McDonald after the Colonials clinched the NIT Championship. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior Kevin Larsen lifts up senior Joe McDonald after the Colonials clinched the NIT Championship. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior Joe McDonald hugs his teammates after winning the NIT championship. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior Joe McDonald hugs his teammates after winning the NIT championship. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Junior Tyler Cavanaugh hugs a teammate after GW's win. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Junior Tyler Cavanaugh hugs a teammate after GW’s win. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

The team poses with the NIT championship trophy, the first in program history. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

The team poses with the NIT championship trophy. The championship win is the first in program history. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior Kevin Larsen cuts down a piece of the net at Madison Square Garden. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior Kevin Larsen cuts down a piece of the net at Madison Square Garden. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior Patricio Garino and and Assistant Director of Basketball Operations Chris Holm lift Head Coach Mike Lonergan as he cuts down one of the nets at Madison Square Garden. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior Patricio Garino and and Assistant Director of Basketball Operations Chris Holm lift Head Coach Mike Lonergan as he cuts down one of the nets at Madison Square Garden. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

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Senior Kevin Larsen lifts up senior Joe McDonald after the Colonials clinched the NIT Championship. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior Kevin Larsen lifts up senior Joe McDonald after the Colonials clinched the NIT Championship. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

As they cut down the nets in Madison Square Garden, newly crowned champions of the National Invitation Tournament, the Colonials had a little fun.

As graduate student guard Alex Mitola climbed up the ladder to snip away his prize, senior guard Joe McDonald brought over a basketball and urged Mitola, 5-foot-11, to dunk it. Everyone cheered.

“Honestly I thought we deserved it,” McDonald said. “How we just bought in, we’ve worked so hard since the summer. It was a little disappointing not making the NCAAs but I thought the guys bought in just to make the most of this opportunity. That’s what we kept preaching, just to make the most of the opportunity we were given.”

By that time, the party had been going on in the Garden for some time. It started towards the end of the second half, when it became clear that GW would beat No. 1 seed Valparaiso to become the winningest team in program history at 28-10. Seniors McDonald, Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen would win their last game, the 136th they’ve spent together as teammates, 76-60.

“It’s been a long four years and right now I’m just so happy,” Larsen said. “We get to go out with a win and show that what we did really helped the program.”

Senior guard Joe McDonald cuts down the nets in Madison Square Garden. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior guard Joe McDonald cuts down the nets in Madison Square Garden. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

The party started right around the moment when Larsen hit his second three pointer of the night and McDonald swiped the ball from Valpo leading scorer Alec Peters and hit two free throws after getting fouled going down the court. GW led by 15 with less than six minutes left.

Yuta Watanabe started punching balls out of the air (OK, you call them blocks). The sizable GW crowd was screaming. Players waiting to get subbed into the game were coaching from the sideline.

“We couldn’t be happier to win this NIT Championship,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “Extremely happy, especially for our, I hate to always say our seniors, but this class has been great. But Tyler [Cavanaugh], all our guys, even our subs tonight had great minutes.”

As it turned out, Larsen, McDonald and Garino didn’t finish their careers in the game. They were subbed out with less than a minute to play, the result no longer in question.

“These guys, I wanted to leave a legacy,” Lonergan said. “We didn’t make the NCAAs and we were all heartbroken and it’s hard to bounce back but they bounce back. Every team we played including Hofstra was tough, and we got better each game. We played our best basketball end of March.”

For a time, it wasn’t that easy. Both teams came out pushing the ball inside, trading punches. Larsen scored the first five points for the Colonials with a layup and a three-pointer, but Peters got going with seven points in the first six minutes to keep things close.

After Peters hit a three-pointer to pull Valpo within one GW went on a 7-0 run, trapping and pressuring the Crusaders into three turnovers during the stretch. The Colonials took an 18-10 lead.

They went back and forth a bit, but just after Cavanaugh, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament after the game, made a three-point play put GW up 24-16, Valpo went on an 8-0 run of its own. It took just one minute. Two threes, five points for guard Keith Carter and two GW turnovers brought the score to 24-24.

Larsen had had enough. With Valpo driving to take the lead, he got position in the paint, readying himself for his sacrifice. The referee called the charge moments after Larsen’s body slapped onto the Garden hardwood and Larsen grinned.

Senior Patricio Garino and and Assistant Director of Basketball Operations Chris Holm lift head coach Mike Lonergan as he cuts down one of the nets at Madison Square Garden. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior Patricio Garino and and Assistant Director of Basketball Operations Chris Holm lift head coach Mike Lonergan as he cuts down one of the nets at Madison Square Garden. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

The Colonials got the ball back and, after a miss, Mitola grabbed an offensive rebound and chucked it to Larsen who found Garino open at the top of the key. Garino drained a triple.

“We had three years behind us and so many games before, I think we were calm the whole time and just confident in our games,” Garino said.

Still, the Colonials were up by just one, 32-31, at the half. It took a second-half push, driven by the team’s 1-3-1 defense, to run away with the game. For the second game in a row, the Colonials won by forcing their opponent to shoot threes and miss them – Valpo finished 8-of-28 from beyond the arc.

“It was the 1-3-1,” Larsen said. “It looked like we were back to sophomore year when the 1-3-1 was our go-to. I had a flashback to then, it kept them out of their comfort zone and it was that that got us the win.”

Overall, the Colonials held Valparaiso to 39 percent shooting and forced 14 turnovers. After his hot start, Peters never got close to his season-average of 22 points per game. He finished as the lone Crusader in double-figures with 15 points.

As the seconds ticked away on McDonald, Larsen and Garino’s careers, everyone smiled. It was the 136th game since the three became teammates. In games 132-135, the Colonials had fought for their lives, fought each time to play just one more game together. But there were no more games to play for this time. This time, the fight was over, and they were champions.

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Senior guard Joe McDonald hugs Associate Head Coach Hajj Turner after the Colonials defeated florida. GW will head to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday for the semifinals. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Senior guard Joe McDonald hugs Associate Head Coach Hajj Turner after the Colonials defeated Florida 82–77 at the Smith Center. GW will head to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday for the NIT semifinals. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Nursing a fragile 74–73 lead in the final minutes of an electric NIT quarterfinal Wednesday night, GW left Florida’s leading scorer Dorian Finney-Smith open for a three.

Head coach Mike Lonergan, turned away in frustration – it appeared lax team defense, a problem spot all year that had dissipated in GW’s last few games, had come back to haunt them.

But the shot didn’t fall. Senior forward Kevin Larsen gobbled up the rebound, Lonergan called timeout.

Out of the break, with 54 seconds remaining, redshirt junior forward Tyler Cavanaugh nailed an open three off a dish from graduate student guard Alex Mitola that pushed the Colonials (26-10) to a four-point edge, and ultimately, an 82–77 victory over the second-seeded Gators (21-15) at the Smith Center.

“I thought our guys were energized, we had trouble keeping them off the glass and a couple of crazy turnovers off the press but man was it a hard-fought game and luckily we made big plays.” Lonergan said. “That last three that Tyler hit was huge. That’s definitely the guy I want shooting from that spot.”

Cavanaugh’s 23 points, 18 of which came in the second half, was a game-high. The Wake Forest transfer hit half of GW’s eight three-pointers on the night, helping the Colonials go 47.7 percent from the field as a team.

Before Cavanaugh’s offensive explosion, however, his front-court partner provided the spark. Larsen scored 14 points in the final frame and 19 total, dominating the glass with a game-high 13 boards to propel GW to a 40–35 edge against the 24th-best rebounding team in the country.

“I didn’t want this to be my last game so I gave it everything,” Larsen said. “I felt like I had more weight on them, the guys that was guarding me, so I felt like if I got two feet into the paint I felt like I would score every time so that’s what I tried to do.”

“I mean Kevin [Larsen] went on a tear,” Cavanaugh said. “When he plays like that no one can guard him, I tell him that every day.”

Redshirt junior Tyler Cavanaugh puts up a shot in GW's NIT quarterfinal win against Florida. Cavanaugh led the Colonials with 23 points against the Gators. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Redshirt junior Tyler Cavanaugh puts up a shot in GW’s NIT quarterfinal win against Florida. Cavanaugh led the Colonials with 23 points against the Gators. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

But their SEC foe did not make it easy for GW to punch its ticket to Madison Square Garden by forcing 10 turnovers and going 14-of-16 at the line with four players scoring in double-figures.

Freshman guard KeVaughn Allen registered a team-high 22 points, but his team went just 43 percent from the field due to, for the most part, solid GW defense, which Larsen noted as the key to the win.

“We just haven’t been able to [play good defense] consistently and that’s what kept us out of the Big Dance but today [the team] was more focused,” Lonergan said. “We’ve been practicing well, Joe [McDonald]’s been practicing great and I think he’s really stepped us his game which is what we needed.”

Senior swingman Patricio Garino guided the Colonials in the first half with 11 points and finished with 13. As his veterans were rolling, Lonergan got the bench active early.

Sophomore Paul Jorgensen and junior guard Matt Hart provided a crucial spark off the pine, combining for nine points in the first half. Mitola added five in the second half to bump the bench total for the game up to 14.

Allen led the Gators with nine points in the frame as his team’s offense racked up nine assists, and 13 on the night, taking advantage of six GW turnovers.

A back-and-forth half had the Colonials up by just one with just slightly more than 20 seconds remaining, but beating multiple defenders with a sweet drive to the rim, senior guard Joe McDonald pushed GW’s halftime to a slightly more comfortable 39–36 halftime edge.

The Colonials began the second half in foul trouble after being assessed four personals in the first three minutes, which helped the Gators regain multiple leads throughout the frame.

Sophomores Yuta Watanabe and Paul Jorgensen celebrate GW's win over Florida. The pair combined for 40 minutes of play. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Sophomores Yuta Watanabe and Paul Jorgensen celebrate GW’s win over Florida. The pair combined for 40 minutes of play. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Turnovers, off which Florida scored 14 points, also helped the visitors keep it close. A fierce press, especially in the last few minutes of the contest, led to fast transition buckets – like off a steal from Mitola right under the basket that cut the Gators’ deficit to 69–68.

“I was more disappointed we kept fouling, when we were trying to get our defense set we would bail them out,” Lonergan said. “And they were making their free throws and we weren’t so it got to be contagious.”

GW went an uncharacteristic 60 percent from the line as a whole, but with a 77–73 lead after Cavanaugh’s big three, he and Mitola combined for five clutch points from the stripe to close out the game.

The fourth-seeded Colonials now await an NIT semifinal matchup with second-seeded San Diego State in the World’s Most Famous Arena on Tuesday.

Graduate student guard Alex Mitola celebrates GW's NIT quarterfinal victory over Florida. Mitola scored five in 19 minutes off the bench. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Graduate student guard Alex Mitola celebrates GW’s NIT quarterfinal victory over Florida. Mitola scored five in 19 minutes off the bench. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

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