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Freshman guard Darian Bryant will transfer from the men’s basketball team, an athletics communications staff member confirmed Tuesday.

Bryant’s transfer was first announced on Twitter by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

Bryant averaged 1.2 points in 5.4 minutes per game during his rookie season at GW. He was pegged as a potential contributor at the beginning of the season but struggled to match his defensive skill on the offensive end. He shot 36 percent and, though he saw early minutes in several games, classmate Paul Jorgensen took over many of the minutes Bryant had been playing as the season progressed.

The Bowie, Md. product becomes the second member of the team to transfer following GW’s NIT second-round exit on Sunday. News that sophomore guard Nick Griffin would transfer broke Monday.

Their departures leave head coach Mike Lonergan with two extra scholarships to try to add a transfer or additional freshman recruit to the team next year or to award a current walk-on player.

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Sophomore shooting guard Nick Griffin has elected to transfer from the men’s basketball team.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted Monday that Griffin would transfer and an athletics communications staff member confirmed that the Rockville, Md. native would be leaving the program.

Griffin saw limited minutes in his two years with the program and was used as a three-point specialist. This past season, he averaged 2.6 points in 7.9 minutes per game after averaging 1.8 points in 4.8 minutes per game as a freshman when he shot 48 percent from beyond the arc. His three-point shooting percentage dropped to 36 percent during his sophomore year.

Griffin, who suffered from the lack of spacing on the court this season but struggled with inconsistency in his shot, was the only sophomore on the team and the sole player remaining from head coach Mike Lonergan’s 2013-14 rookie class. Then-freshmen Miguel Cartagena and Skyler White both transferred at the end of that season.

The departure of Griffin frees up a spot for Lonergan to go after a late, unsigned high school senior to join the class of 2019 or to try to land a transfer student. Lonergan signed Maurice Creek as a transfer from Indiana before the 2013-14 season and Tyler Cavanaugh out of Wake Forest last summer.

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Junior Joe McDonald makes a pass in GW's Feb. 18 loss to Davidson at home. McDonald scored 20 points against the Wildcats on Saturday in the GW loss. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Junior Joe McDonald makes a pass in GW’s Feb. 18 loss to Davidson at home. McDonald scored 20 points against the Wildcats on Saturday in the GW loss. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

In the final minutes of the game, junior Patricio Garino turned the ball over on two straight possessions. The second came when he badly misfired a pass to Kevin Larsen with less than three minutes to play, leading to a pair of free throws for Davidson’s leading scorer Tyler Kalinoski that stretched the Wildcats’ lead back to double figures.

The two points pushed Kalinoski’s point total to 11, making him the fourth Wildcat to reach double figures. Davidson has never lost this season with a quartet scoring more than ten, and continued the trend Saturday against the Colonials, who lost 77-66 on the road.

“I thought our guys had some fight in them today. This is a tough team for us to play in here, and then when they make all those threes and they definitely shoot the ball well at home and then there are 13 turnovers,” said head coach Mike Lonergan. “The turnovers are brutal.”

GW (18-11, 8-8 A-10) struggled with turnovers all night, giving Davidson (21-6, 12-4 A-10) 13 extra chances via lost balls which the Wildcats exploited for 22 points. GW scored just two points off four Davidson turnovers.

Garino’s giveaways halted a ten point GW run which cut the Davidson lead from 16 to six, punctuated by five straight points from junior Joe McDonald.

McDonald hit his fourth three pointer of the night with 4:25 to play to pull within single digits and force a Davidson timeout.

After the breather, the do-it-all point guard cut the lead to six after slapping the ball out of Jack Gibbs’ hands and taking it to the hoop himself. His layup gave him 20 points on the night, his final number, and McKillop asked for more time. McDonald added eight rebounds, with a 4-0 assist-to-turnover ratio.

“You have to be aggressive, they play a real packline defense so you’ve got to be confident in your shots,” McDonald said. “We had a lot of open looks, really our offense wasn’t what we were worried about.”

McDonald had a strong game the first time GW played Davidson this season back on Feb. 18, but there were more painful moments of déja vu for the Colonials as well.

The first time the two teams met, Lonergan talked about the need to play all 40 minutes of the game. The Colonials gave up eight straight points out of halftime in that meeting, and again struggled with lapses in defense. Before GW went on its final run, the Wildcats had pulled ahead by canning five straight threes.

GW scored 11 triples of its own, four each by McDonald and sophomore Nick Griffin, but the Wildcats splashed in 14 on 28 attempts.

“Last game we switched everything, this game we switched nothing,” Lonergan said. “It’s hard because they have four guys on the court, sometimes five, who can shoot. You really have to be focused on defense sometimes on five guys on the court so it’s a tough matchup.”

None of those three-pointers, however, would come from Jordan Barham who had a second strong game inside against GW. After going 7-8 for 15 points in the Smith Center earlier this season, he scored 17 points on 7-11 shooting at home, consistently torching past players who towered over his 6-foot-4 frame.

“Barham two games in a row just destroyed us,” Lonergan said. “It’s not for lack of effort, he’s just stronger than our 6-foot-8 guys but it’s frustrating because he’s taken over both games in the second half and he’s the guy that doesn’t shoot, it’s all just taking it down our throat and scoring.”

The turnovers, and allowing the Wildcats to increase their shooting percentage from 34.6 in the first half to 48.3 in the second, were too much to overcome even with 18 assists and a strong inside game for the Colonials. Behind a 16 point, nine rebound performance for Kevin Larsen, GW outscored Davidson 30-18 in the paint and outrebounded the Wildcats by ten.

Still, the one thing moves to the inside couldn’t do for the Colonials was get them to the free throw line, where they made just one of two shots. Davidson, meanwhile, was 17-21 from the charity stripe.

“I thought we could have gotten some calls in there, our 6-foot-10 guy is battling and we only shot two free throws the entire game, it’s frustrating,” Lonergan said. “Two to 21 and they’re a jump shooting team?”

The Colonials will try to rebound when they play their penultimate game of the season Wednesday at George Mason at 7 p.m.

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Rising up, Junior Kethan Savage shoots his first three pointer of the afternoon. Savage was 3 out of 4 from behind the arc. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Rising up, Junior Kethan Savage shoots his first three pointer of the afternoon. Savage was 3 out of 4 from behind the arc. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

It was 41 degrees and cloudy Saturday afternoon in the District, with light showers, winds from the southwest, and torrential downpour 3-pointers in the Smith Center.

The Colonials rained down 12 threes in a Homecoming beatdown of Duquesne on their way to a 74-59 victory.

Patricio Garino scored a game-high 20 points, Joe McDonald added 16, rookie Paul Jorgensen added a career-high 13 and Kethan Savage had a career-high eight of GW’s 17 assists on a night when guard play did it all for GW.

“We knew we would get open shots around the wings, but we also just talked about not settling,” McDonald said. “Kethan did a great job shooting the ball.”

GW hit four assisted 3-pointers to open the game. McDonald found Savage for the first, then Savage returned the favor twice, then McDonald stayed in the giving spirit with a dish to Nick Griffin who also hit for three.

Then Griffin put the Colonials up 15-9 with their fifth consecutive triple, this time doing it all by himself.

“They were going to pack it in which they did,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “Kethan and Joe shot well and they gave us open shots. We’ve been shooting better lately but you’re at home and you’ve got wide open threes and you’ve got to knock it down. We made more than I expected.”

Duquesne set in its two-three zone, and the Colonials, finding it unnecessary to bother trying to penetrate it, went up 18-9 with their sixth three in a row, this time from Jorgensen.

Jorgensen, for variety’s sake if nothing else, hit a reverse layup on the next possession after GW got numbers up ahead off a steal by Savage. Despite scoring just 24 of their points in the paint on a night when Kevin Larsen and John Kopriva scored a combined four points, GW shot 48.1 percent for the game while Duquense shot 44 percent.

Still, the first half was a defensive beatdown above all. GW doubled-up Duquesne 40-18 in the first half where they took 60 percent of the shot attempts.

“We played really good man-to-man defense. Patricio is a terrific defender. We put Joe on [Derrick] Colter and we put Kethan on [Micah] Mason, and then we put Patricio to be able to help off, usually he guards the best player but today I wanted him to be able to be our help guy so we made them take some bad shots, some contested shots,” Lonergan said.

The second half began just like the first, a top-of-the-key three by McDonald, followed up by a McDonald-assisted three from Savage.

But the rest of the second half wasn’t as dominant, though it didn’t matter as GW enjoyed a 36 point lead

Freshman Paul Jorgensen celebrates a 3-pointer in the Colonials win against Duquesne on Saturday. Dan Rich | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Freshman Paul Jorgensen celebrates a 3-pointer in the Colonials win against Duquesne on Saturday. Dan Rich | Hatchet Staff Photographer

with 13 minutes to go, the Colonials were outscored 41-34 and held without a field goal for nearly eight minutes.

“It was disappointing at the end but I told them in the locker room, that’s why some of the guys don’t play a lot,” Lonergan said. “Five years ago I would have left here in a bad mood but I get the bigger picture now.”

Colter found some looks against the man-defense to score nine of his 12 points in the second half. He was the only player for the Dukes to finish in double figures, though he got some help from the Duquesne bench that outscored GW’s reserves 30-25.

Sixth man Yuta Watanabe checked in at the first changing of the guard for Lonergan, the familiar “Yu-ta, Yu-ta, Yu-ta” resonating in the Smith Center with some extra emphasis after Watanabe sprained his ankle in GW’s last game against Fordham. Watanabe was limited to 15 minutes and three points and Lonergan said that he wasn’t 100 percent for the game.

But without Watanabe, the energetic Jorgensen had a breakout game. He broke the scoring drought with a layup with 2:10 remaining, and forty seconds later he was joined on the court by fellow rookies Darian Bryant, Matt Cimino and Anthony Swan and junior Ryan McCoy to close out the game. Duquesne had finally reached the fifty-point mark, but the faint smell of Red Auerbach’s cigar smoke seemed to have joined the Homecoming crowd in the Smith Center, where the Colonials have an unblemished record this season.

“I think we’ve played more focused now, we’ve focused on defense and we’re obviously making more shots. Our confidence is up.,” Garino said. “Away I think we’ve stayed a little more calm and used the experience we had to win the games.”

Momentum, experience and anything else will be welcome for the Colonials as they head on the road Tuesday for a 7 p.m. matchup at No. 16 VCU.

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Junior Joe McDonald recorded 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists in GW's 78-70 win over the 49ers at the Verizon Center on Sunday. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Junior Joe McDonald recorded 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in GW’s 78-70 win over the 49ers at the Verizon Center on Sunday. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

There’s no “I” in team.

Head coach Mike Lonergan rattled off the familiar cliché when describing his team’s success at the BB&T Classic, where they secured a 78-70 victory over Charlotte for their fifth win of the young season.

“I always tell our guys, ‘Hey, there’s no ‘I’ in team,’ and it really is true,” Lonergan said. “And we’ve got to play for each other because we have a chance to be a very good team, but we’ve got to take advantage of each of our strengths and hide our weaknesses, and we can’t do that individually.”

The fourth-year head coach said the Colonials “tried to do too much on [their] own” in their 58-54 loss to a still undefeated Seton Hall on Nov. 29. Up against former Atlantic 10 rival Charlotte on Sunday, GW proved just how important playing as a team can be.

In the eight-point victory, an evenly filled stat sheet and unselfish play helped GW overcome many of the struggles the team has faced so far this season.

GW had just seven assists in the loss to Seton Hall, while junior forward Kevin Larsen, the team’s go-to big man, scored just three points. But smarter passing got everyone involved Sunday, as the Colonials totaled 17 assists and the starting GW frontcourt combined for 17 points.

But the scoring didn’t stop there. Junior point guard Joe McDonald flirted with a triple-double, tallying eight rebounds, eight assists and 11 points on the day, and for the first time this season, all four starting juniors would score in double figures.

McDonald now leads the team with 6.9 rebounds per game, a rare statistic for a point guard, but he says rebounding is just another shared team responsibility.

“You know we’re missing Zeek, and you don’t want to put all of that pressure on Kevin [Larsen] and John [Kopriva],” McDonald said. “It’s not just me. Kethan [Savage] rebounds, Patricio [Garino] does, so it’s more a team effort.”

While McDonald has served as a rebounding guard all season, players moved outside of traditional roles in another way on Sunday. Instead of relying solely on their three-point specialists like Watanabe and sophomore Nick Griffin, who scored the only two threes in the Seton Hall loss, the Colonials saw improved three-point shooting Sunday, going a season high .500 from beyond the arc.

GW was able to get open looks for McDonald, Kopriva, Jorgensen and junior Kethan Savage who combined for five three-pointers on the day.

“We’ve been shooting very poorly from the three-point line this year. It’s no secret … but almost every three we took [today] was wide open. For us, five for 10 is excellent,” Lonergan said.

The Colonials also managed a season-high .750 shooting percentage from the line against the 49ers, led by McDonald who went 6-7, as five Colonials combined for 15 crucial points from the charity stripe.

The change may not be by accident or just a random switch. Lonergan said he was hoping the team would be 6-1 at this point instead of 5-2, calling the loss at Seton Hall a disappointment. He mentioned the presence of NBA scouts at practices as a distraction and said he may have been “too into” the team’s preseason pick as second in the A-10, which he discussed with the team.

“I just told the guys really after Virginia and Seton Hall that I don’t want to hear about the NBA and all that stuff. That stuff will come if you win games and play as a team,” Lonergan said. “Winning takes care of everything … These guys have got a lot of goals but the team goals come first.”

The work continues for the Colonials as they return to the Smith Center to take on DePaul on Thursday at 7 p.m.

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Updated: Nov. 27, 2014 at 1:19 p.m.

On the night before Thanksgiving, the Colonials (3-1) filled up on second-half points and saw five players carve their way to double figures, topping Longwood (2-4) after scoring 55 points in the second half.

But the game was not without its frustrations for head coach Mike Lonergan, as the Lancers hung around in the first half.

“I told my guys this is one film I’m not going to watch, and that’s hard for me,” Lonergan said.“I think we can be so good, but we just have to put our emphasis back on rebounding and on defense and not on scoring or individual things, and we’ve got to become a team again. Tonight was the first night, even our bench, I heard them saying ‘pass the ball.’”

Senior forward John Kopriva drives to the basket in an exhibition game earlier this season. Kopriva had a career night Wednesday as the Colonials topped Longwood 91-66. | Hatchet File Photo.

Senior forward John Kopriva drives to the basket in an exhibition game earlier this season. Kopriva had a career night Wednesday as the Colonials topped Longwood 91-66. Hatchet File Photo.

But while the pieces weren’t always clicking together, the 91-66 win did come with a special accolade for senior forward John Kopriva, sometimes the forgotten man in GW’s starting five, who had a career night with 19 points and six rebounds.

He passed his career total with a Kevin Larsen-assisted layup that made it 67-55 and got him a shot at an extra point, which he made. Kopriva was 6-9 from the line and was greeted by a standing, clapping group of teammates as he went to the pine with less than three minutes to play.

“I was feeling it for a little bit. Kev [Larsen] hit me right away to start it off and got a couple quick buckets and that always helps. You start getting into a rhythm. I’ve just gotta be able to do it again. It can’t be a one-time thing,” Kopriva said. “It felt good to put the ball in the basket.”

He put it in six times on eight attempts from the field, even adding a three in the first half, which he followed with a trip to the line after grabbing his own offensive rebound.

Kopriva’s frontcourt mate, Larsen, also had a strong night after a quiet first half. Though the Colonials’ first play gave Larsen the ball inside on a pass from junior point guard Joe McDonald, the junior forward scored just four points before halftime.

But Larsen came out of the lockers with more aggression, getting to the line and having, as Lonergan said, “his way inside,” to finish the game with 16 points, three rebounds and four assists.

He smashed a two-handed dunk and followed up with a rare three-pointer – he had his first in the team’s season opener – jogging down the sideline flashing the three point symbol after draining the triple.

Larsen and the rest of the Colonials, however, could not contain Longwood center Lotanna Nwogbo. Nwogbo did the vast majority of the scoring for the Lancers, scoring a game-high 25 points. He didn’t miss from the field until late in the second half, ending the night on 10-11 scoring.

“It was his strength. It’s no secret we’re not really that big inside. He was able to post John up really close to the basket,” Lonergan said. “We were going to double him every time and we couldn’t get the double there quick enough. And he got his confidence early, he got to the rim.”

But Nwogbo was one of just two Longwood players to finish in double figures. Even players who did not reach double figures in scoring filled the stat sheet for GW, with McDonald adding 10 rebounds and seven assists to his eight points, grabbing some long rebounds but also often beating larger players off the glass inside. He helped GW out-rebound Longwood 40-29 in the game, with Lonergan putting him on triple-double watch for the season.

“I mean if he made his free throws,” Lonergan quipped. “I tell you what, he’ll get one [triple double]. Rebounds you would think the hardest thing and he’s been there a bunch of times.”

“Joe’s just manhandling people at 6-foot-1 so it’s fun to watch him,” he said.

McDonald’s backup, sophomore Nick Griffin, brought the heat from downtown, scoring 11 points in the game bolstered by 2-3 shooting from beyond the arc and a 5-6 mark from the free throw line. GW ended the game shooting nearly 52 percent from the field.

The Colonials also showed signs of improvement at the free throw line, shooting nearly 70 percent from the stripe, where they added 27 points to Longwood’s 11 on the Lancers’ 19 attempts.

Despite the win, Lonergan said he was not able to rest his starters as much as he had hoped while the game was still competitive. GW has a quick turnaround as team heads on the road to play Seton Hall on Saturday at 4 p.m.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Larsen’s first three pointer came in the team’s exhibition game this season. It was during the season opener. We regret this error.

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Much of the talk surrounding men’s basketball has been about how the team will try to replicate the success of last season, but in the season-opening win over Grambling State on Friday, the team showed that this year, they will do things a bit differently.

Last season, it took a foot injury to Kethan Savage to move Patricio Garino into the starting lineup. On Friday, the Atlantic-10 Preseason First Teamer led GW with a game-high 21 points in just 24 minutes of play, four points shy of his career record.

He dominated above the rim, went 3-3 from the free throw line, and also sunk two three-pointers on the night, a number only matched by sophomore Nick Griffin

“I felt confident the whole game,” Garino said. “I think at the beginning, I should have shot a couple of shots where I was open, but I think my feet were ready and I was in the right positions.”

Savage, too, showed expansion of his game, hitting a pair of smooth jumpers after getting the game started with a two-handed slam on a pass from Garino. Savage and Lonergan both spoke about his improved jump shot before the season, and the explosive shooting guard put it on display Friday night, perhaps making memories of last year’s departed leading scorer Maurice Creek fade away ever so slightly.

Garino and Savage also dominated on the other side of the court, with Garino leading the team with four steals and the two players sharing the team lead in blocks with senior John Kopriva.

Garino has always been a slasher and Kopriva a strong defender, but even when their play was not anything new or surprising, Garino said the home crowd on opening night gave the team energy.

“It feels great for us… just the atmosphere of the students hypes everyone up and gives us a little extra confidence in the game,” Garino said.

The building was set particularly abuzz with one of the least familiar sights of the game when Kevin Larsen splashed in the first three-pointer of his career from just outside the top of the arc, though Larsen made sure to say after the game that fans should not expect him to be launching shots from long range on a regular basis.

“It was the first three I’ve made and it felt great, but I’ve got to find other ways to score points like getting down one-on-one in the post,” Larsen said. “But Joe made a great pass and I was like ‘Oh, well,’ so I shot it and it went in.”

Larsen was otherwise himself: He commanded the paint and tallied a team-leading nine rebounds and was the second-highest scorer in the game with 15 points, all in just 26 minutes of playing time.

Larsen also guided the team to 49 total rebounds to Grambling State’s 24. He said rebounding was an area of concern coming into the season, but was pleased to see almost everyone contributing to the statistic.

The Colonials also focused greatly on free throw shooting this offseason, after losing their best shooter in Creek and finishing with a dismal 65.2 percent from the line last year.

Although the Colonials finished 66.7 percent from the line as a team Friday, the two top scorers showed improvement, with Garino going 3-3 and Larsen 6-6.

Despite facing an opponent far less formidable than most teams the Colonials will encounter this season, the performances of the starters bode well for GW. If this year’s squad can continue to score in different ways, breaking last year’s mold could actually prove to be a good thing.

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Updated: Nov. 14, 2014 at 10:47 p.m.

No sooner had a new banner, this one with “2014″ emblazoned under previous NCAA tournament years, been hung from the Smith Center rafters than Patricio Garino was feeding Kethan Savage for a slam dunk in the season opener Friday.

Those were GW’s first official points of the 2014-15 season in the beginning of what would be a 92-40 win over Grambling State, marking the Colonials’ largest margin of victory since 1999.

Just under 20 minutes of game time later, when Tigers guard Chase Cormier missed his second free throw, Garino secured a 16-15 edge in scoring over the Tigers’ entire offense in the first half. GW went on to trounce the Tigers, outscoring them 50-18 in the paint, 22-4 off the fastbreak and 24-1 in points off of turnovers.

“I thought we came out ready to play, and I think our upperclassmen and our juniors in particular were very focused no matter who their opponent is,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “It was a good game for us, for our freshmen especially, they don’t have to go into Rutgers Sunday as their first game playing major minutes.”

Garino was unstoppable, laying and dunking balls in off the fastbreak and making two three pointers on three attempts. Sixteen of his points came in the first half before he saw limited minutes in the second half of the blowout.

Lonergan put all five freshman in around the four-minute mark and let them play out the remainder of the game. For the record, they outscored the Tigers 9-4, with Paul Jorgensen making an aggressive swipe and several layups off the break and Yuta Watanabe hitting a three.

Darian Bryant held the ball as the crowd stood and the clock wound down to zero with GW’s future on the court. But make no mistake, the present did the winning for the Colonials against the Tigers.

“Darian plays well, he finds a way to get some baskets. Yuta I think had one of his best games,” Lonergan said. “They’re getting used to playing with each other as well.”

Lonergan nearly secured his goal of having four players score in double figures, as Savage added 12 to Garino’s game-leading 21, while Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald chipped in 15 and 8, respectively. Larsen led the game in rebounding with nine, and GW would beat Grambling State off the glass 49-24.

Junior guard Kethan Savage played 24 minutes in GW's season opener against Grambling State on Friday, seeing his first competitive action after fracturing his foot last January. Savage tallied 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists as the Colonials breezed past the Tigers 92-40. Francis Rivera | Senior Staff Photographer

Junior guard Kethan Savage played 24 minutes in GW’s season opener against Grambling State on Friday, seeing his first competitive action after fracturing his foot last January. Savage tallied 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists as the Colonials breezed past the Tigers 92-40. Francis Rivera | Senior Staff Photographer

“[Rebounding] was a big focus because we had a size advantage again like last week,” Larsen said. “So it was like one of the priorities going into the game, dominating on the glass, which has been a big question mark for the whole summer since [Isaiah Armwood] left. So it was a great feeling to show that we can all rebound.”

Though Larsen spent most of his minutes inside, he hit a three pointer after Grambling State missed a free throw with seven minutes to go in the first half, which made it seem unclear if the Tigers would reach double digits in the first frame. GW George walked through the aisles of the Smith Center’s stands with unusual confidence.

While GW got scoring from many places, the Tigers had just two players in double figures. Those players, forwards A’Torri Shine and Richard Freeman, were the only two players to score more than four points with Shine’s 11 and Freeman’s 13.

One of the few dark spots for GW was the team’s fifth starter, forward John Kopriva, who was held without a field goal and scored just one point off four free throw attempts, though Lonergan praised his defense in the game. Kopriva also added three rebounds.

“He’s gotta make his free throws, it’s just a mental thing,” Lonergan said. “He didn’t really have many other opportunities.”

Guard Nick Griffin suited up for GW after missing the Colonials’ exhibition win over Bloomsburg the week before with a minor injury, which Lonergan said at the team’s media day was to his foot.

He was silent in the first half but scored eight points in the second frame, including two of GW’s six three pointers.

Griffin ended the game tied with Watanabe and Jorgensen for the most points off the GW bench, which outscored Grambling State’s supporting cast 35-11.

Lonergan cautioned that the rookies will have to get used to fewer minutes, starting with the team’s first official road game at Rutgers on Sunday at 7 p.m.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported the number of points scored by Richard Freeman. He scored 13 points, not 14. We regret this error.

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Junior guard Kethan Savage rocked the Smith Center with a dunk in the opening seconds of play Saturday, marking the start of an 89-47 trouncing of Bloomsburg (Division II) in GW’s only preseason exhibition match.

Despite committing 21 turnovers, the Colonials shot 66 percent from the field compared to the Huskies’ 24.2 and out rebounded Bloomsburg 51-27 en route to the 42-point victory.

“I thought we got a lot out of the game [and] did some good things. It was definitely sloppy, we had 21 turnovers, but I thought we were ready to play,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “We played a lot of guys and it definitely added to why it was sloppy, but I’m happy because no one got hurt and we got to get our freshmen a lot of minutes.”

Junior guard Patricio Garino led the Colonials with a team-high 16 points, followed by junior forward Kevin Larsen and freshman guard Darian Bryant who each totaled 13 points on the day.

Larsen led the way with 11 points in the first half, in which the Colonials shot 62.5 percent from the field and outscored Bloomsburg 46-22.

The second frame was nearly identical, with GW outscoring the Huskies 43-25 and shooting 71.4 percent from the field.

Freshman forward Yuta Watanabe makes his first basket in the Smith Center in an exhibition match against Bloomsburg on Saturday afternoon. Watanabe totalled 8 rebounds and 12 points in his debut for the Colonials. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Freshman forward Yuta Watanabe makes his first basket in the Smith Center in an exhibition match against Bloomsburg on Saturday. Watanabe totalled eight rebounds and 12 points in his debut for the Colonials. Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

The team’s five freshmen came out strong, contributing a combined total of 37 points, led by Bryant and freshmen Yuta Watanabe, who totaled 12 points and led the team defensively with three blocks.

“I think individually [the freshmen] did some good things. I thought Yuta played very very well… he’s got long arms and he’s a very good defender,” Lonergan said. “He’s really talented. I think as these guys get used to playing with Yuta and he gets used to playing with them, he’s going to be a lot better a few months down the road.”

Senior forward John Kopriva led the first half with six total rebounds, also scoring a total of 11 points, which he will need to continue to do for the Colonials to find success this season. Kopriva also showed off a jumper he and Lonergan said was improved and shot 5-6 from the field.

Kopriva was able to find space when Larsen drew the majority of attention in the post. Freshman Matt Cimino, however, was the team’s leading rebounder, battling his way through the paint for 10 rebounds, including four off the offensive boards.

Free throws, an area of concern for the Colonials last season, did not see much improvement Saturday, as GW only shot 60.7 percent from the line. Lonergan attributed some of the misses to early season jitters, but said that accuracy at the line is still a work in progress for his squad.

“I think some of our freshmen were nervous and missing some free throws there, but I think we’ve improved at least in practice and the drills we’re doing… but today, definitely it’s a disappointing number, especially being at home,” Lonergan said.

Junior guard Patricio Garino goes up to net in an exhibition match against Bloomburg on Saturday afternoon. Garino scored 16 points as the Colonials topped the Huskies 89-47. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Junior guard Patricio Garino goes up to net in an exhibition match against Bloomburg on Saturday. Garino scored 16 points as the Colonials topped the Huskies 89-47. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Overall, players said the rout left them feeling positive going into the regular season after waiting to get back on the court together in competition.

“It feels good honestly to play the whole team at the same time in one game,” Garino said. “I can’t wait honestly. I think we have a great team and now all the freshman have a little feeling about the game, and now I think they’re going to be a little less nervous.”

Still, not everyone got in on the fun: Junior Ryan McCoy and sophomore Nick Griffin did not dress for the game due to minor injuries, though Lonergan said both would be evaluated and could practice this week. He said they could possibly play in the season opener against Grambling State, but that it would depend on their availability for practice and if they could get enough time to tune up before getting into a game.

With or without them, the Colonials will try to carry over their dominance and work out some of the kinks and turnovers before getting back on the court when it counts. They will play their first regular season game against Grambling State next Friday at 7 p.m. in the Smith Center.

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Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in a game last season. Hatchet File Photo.

Kethan Savage goes up for a dunk against VCU in a game last season. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by contributing sports editor Mark Eisenhauer. 

1. John Kopriva looks more offensive-minded

Senior forward John Kopriva was a big offensive presence during Saturday’s scrimmage, often taking open mid-range jump shots and settling for the occasional 3-point shot. Kopriva was also good for an occasional slam, including one “dunk” that could have been labeled the play of the game. The 6-foot-8 senior will need to contribute in his final season, and from the looks of it, he is ready to take on a bigger offensive role after averaging just 1.8 points per game last season.

2. Kethan Savage has not missed a step

Junior Kethan Savage looks better than ever. A fractured left foot sidelined him for most of the second half of last season, but Sports Illustrated has already projected he will be one of the nation’s top scorers this year. And the foot surgery doesn’t appear to have undercut the explosiveness and agility Savage showcased last season. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard seems to have worked on improving his jump shot, and he confidently knocked down multiple jumpers Saturday.

3. Darian Bryant managed on the perimeter

Head coach Mike Lonergan has repeatedly called freshman Darian Bryant the most game-ready newcomer of his class. Lonergan played the Bowie, Md. native primarily on the perimeter during the scrimmage, allowing him to use space when driving to the basket. Bryant, who was the most aggressive freshman of the group Saturday, could be a solid option from the bench for Lonergan to rest junior Patricio Garino.

4. Swan could be the surprise of the freshman class

The hype keeps building for this year’s freshmen class, with high expectations for players like Yuta Watanabe and Matt Cimino. But freshman Anthony Swan’s stars shined brightest on Saturday as he hit a number of 3-pointers that got the small crowd in attendance buzzing. The freshman also showcased his ability to drive to the rim, rebound and sink multiple mid-range jumpers.

5. Nick Griffin did not participate in Saturday’s action

The Class of 2017 went unrepresented at the scrimmage, with guard Nick Griffin, the team’s sole sophomore, sticking to the sidelines. Griffin, who will likely be called on to fill the statistical void in point production left by alumnus Maurice Creek, is suspected to have sat out the scrimmage because of a minor injury.

Griffin averaged 4.8 minutes per game last season and hit 14 threes in 29 attempts.

Junior Ryan McCoy was also not suited up for Saturday’s scrimmage.

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