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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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Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald celebrate in GW's win in the A-10 quarterfinals | Hatchet File Photo

Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald celebrate during GW’s win in the A-10 quarterfinals last season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by contributing editor Mark Eisenhauer.

It’s prediction time for men’s basketball.

Sports Illustrated was the latest to release its annual preseason predictions, projecting the men’s basketball team to finish fourth in the Atlantic 10 conference behind Virginia Commonwealth, Dayton and Massachusetts.

The Colonials will finish the season with a conference record of 11-7, according to the predictions, which were released Wednesday.

Using a statistical projection system, Sports Illustrated also predicted that juniors Kethan Savage, Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald would lead the team in scoring, in that order. Savage’s projected 14.2 points per game places him at No. 72 in the nation.

Garino, who averaged 12.1 points per game last year, is projected to improve his average to 12.3. Larsen is projected to score 11.5, just 0.1 points better than his average last season. Following an offseason hip surgery, McDonald is expected to average 8.7 points and four assists per game.

The Colonials’ top scorers would be rounded out by sophomore Nick Griffin, projected to score 6.9 points per game, followed by freshmen Yuta Watanabe and Matt Cimino with 5.5 and 5.3 points, respectively.

Sports Illustrated’s projections follow a slew of other preseason lists released in recent months, and many favorably rank the Colonials for the upcoming season.

Matt Norlander of CBS Sports sees GW finishing third in the conference. In his conference preview, Norlander also projected Savage to be a top A-10 guard, placing him on the preseason All-Atlantic 10 Team.

Five other CBS Sports college hoops experts also weighed in with their projected A-10 conference rankings. Chip Patterson, Jerry Palm and Jon Rothstein each have the Colonials finishing second over Dayton and behind VCU, while Gary Parrish has GW finishing third and Doug Gottlieb slates GW to finish fifth.

Beyond the A-10 rankings and regular season standings, USA Today Sports’ Scott Gleeson placed the Colonials in the NCAA tournament field of 68, projecting them to repeat last season with an at-large bid as a No. 9 seed. Gleeson ranked GW as the No. 35 team, and also predicted Savage will be the Colonials player to watch.

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Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 11:00 p.m.

Rams get revenge, rain down threes on Colonials

It was a frustrating night.

With 43 seconds left to play, head coach Mike Lonergan innocently smiled and shrugged his shoulders at sophomore Patricio Garino. Lonergan had been ejected.

Ejected after watching his team go 0-8 from behind the arc in the first half.

Watching the Rams get wide-open looks and drain 13 threes.

Watching his team ultimately fall 92-75 and hand the Rams sole possession of second-place in the Atlantic 10 standings.

It was a frustrating night.

“I deserved that and I apologized to the referees,” said Lonergan, when discussing the second technical foul he received after yelling for a timeout. “We just kept turning the ball over and getting stripped. We had players playing positions that they’re not really used to. So it was just frustration and it was definitely a mistake on my part.”

Senior Isaiah Armwood throws down a dunk earlier this season. The forward scored 17 points Wednesday against VCU. Hatchet File Photo

Senior Isaiah Armwood throws down a dunk earlier this season. The forward scored 17 points Wednesday against VCU. Hatchet File Photo

The Colonials jumped out to an 8-4 advantage in the first five minutes, but wouldn’t hold the lead for much longer. Back-to-back threes from Melvin Johnson tied it at 10. And from there, it got ugly.

The Rams embarked on an 18-2 run fueled by the second foul on sophomore Joe McDonald. Freshman Miguel Cartagena was forced into the game to handle the ball, but two fouls and two turnovers on two consecutive possessions, and he was back on the bench, not to play the rest of the game.

“Our defensive intensity wasn’t there and we got down big,” Lonergan said.

Lonergan would make the smart decision to put Garino and graduate student Maurice Creek in the backcourt to bring up the ball, but in the end, VCU’s defense would get the best of GW.

The Colonials would commit 22 turnovers on 14 VCU steals. The Rams would more than take advantage, scoring 29 points off turnovers, compared to just 13 for GW.

“Our team had two assists and 15 turnovers at halftime,” Lonergan said frankly. “Then in the second half we did a much better job and started hitting some shots, but it [the pressure] tired us out and it was a tough game for us to not get production out of our bench.”

In the half’s closing minutes, GW went on a 10-1 run of their own with a chance to cut the lead to 10, but two Colonials turnovers led to five-straight points for the Rams, giving them a 45-28 halftime lead.

As snow fell outside, cascades of VCU threes poured down inside Siegel Arena on the Colonials. VCU would go 8-14 from beyond the arc in the first half and shoot 52 percent for the game.

Johnson led the barrage, scoring 21 points off the bench, while going 5-8 from three. Treveon Graham would add another three treys, scoring a game-high 25 points, while grabbing 10 boards.

“With the 1-3-1, for whatever reason, we didn’t do a good job of getting out on shooters and we didn’t have enough energy,” Lonergan said. “And give them credit, they made them. And they got some big offensive rebounds and kicked it out and hit some more open threes. So the three-point line really hurt us.”

Stan van Gundy may have put it best, saying, the Colonials Wednesday just needed everyone to be named Larsen and Garino.

Guard Maurice Creek hits a jumper earlier this season. Creek scored 17 points Wednesday, coming alive in the second half. Hatchet File Photo

Guard Maurice Creek hits a jumper earlier this season. Creek scored 17 points Wednesday, coming alive in the second half. Hatchet File Photo

Although maybe not his best statistical night, recording a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, sophomore Kevin Larsen was instrumental inbounding the ball and serving as an additional outlet on the press break. Garino, who scored 16 points with four rebounds and five assists, was often the one receiving the inbound pass from Larsen and showed that his recent time at the point was paying off.

With the help of Creek and senior Isaiah Armwood, they would fight back against the Rams in the second half, cutting the lead to as few as five points. Freshman Nick Griffin hit the team’s first three with 15:35 to play and finally shots began to fall, as Creek found his groove from beyond the arc as well.

Creek would finish with the night with 17 points on 6-12 shooting, 4-6 from three. The Colonials would go 6-10 form behind the arc in the second half. Armwood finished with 17 points and seven boards, fouling out with two minutes left to play. The Colonials would shoot 53 percent for the game, exemplary of their strong second half.

Free throws continued to plague GW, though, especially as they got within striking range of the Rams. Missed front ends of one-and-ones ended seemingly positive possessions and gave the ball right back to VCU. The Colonials would go 11-20 on the night from the charity stripe.

“We’ve got to start making free throws. I thought that was huge, when we we’re down five and seven,” Lonergan said. “In the second half, we had players go up there, but we were 3-10 with missed two one-and-ones. When you leave nine points at the line in the second half, that’s really frustrating.”

A slam dunk by Juvonte Reddic with just over a minute to play put an exclamation point on the Rams victory – their 20th of the season and 18th straight at home.

GW will look to bounceback in another big conference game this Saturday, when they face off against Massachusetts, who suffered its third loss in five games Wednesday.

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Isaiah Armwood goes up against Duquesne defenders Wednesday night. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant News Editor

Isaiah Armwood goes up against Duquesne defenders Wednesday night. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant News Editor

Maybe it was the broken rim. Or GW’s dominance in the paint. Either way, it made for a statement win for the Colonials.

After a highlight-reel slam by Duquesne’s Ovie Soko, Smith Center staff would be forced onto the court to fix what appeared to be a crooked rim.

A ladder and a level later, second-half play would continue, but Duquesne’s ability to score would not. GW would embark on a 17-8 run over the next nine minutes to grab the win, 71-57. The Colonials would not trail once in the entire game.

“I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half. We definitely didn’t shoot as well from three and we struggled from the free throw line, but our inside guys played another strong game,” head coach Mike Lonergan said.

The big question coming into the game was whether or not Lonergan would get playing time out of his injured stars: Joe McDonald and Maurice Creek.

Patricio Garino dribbles past a Duquesne defender at the Smith Center on Wednesday. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Patricio Garino dribbles past a Duquesne defender at the Smith Center on Wednesday. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

That question would be answered with both suited up in warmups and McDonald eventually in the starting lineup. Creek would enter the game at 15:31 in the first half, but not look himself, scoring just one point over 21 minutes of play.

McDonald wouldn’t have that big an impact either – 3 points and a team-high six assists – but both their presences on the court seemed to add an energy and speed that just wasn’t there in the Dayton loss Saturday.

“I think it helps with some of our role players, it kind of takes the pressure off them, even if they just see those guys,” Lonergan said of having McDonald and Creek back tonight. “I knew Nemanja [Mikic] would play much better. Whenever Maurice is playing, Nemanja is much better and he just can’t be our first or only option from three.”

GW would ultimately win the game with its dominance in the paint and quick hands on the defensive end. Led by a double-double performance from senior forward Isaiah Armwood, the Colonials would outscore the Dukes 36 to 26 in the paint and outrebound them 42-37.

There must have been some grease on the ball from all the $1 hot dogs Wednesday, as possession seemed to change hands after every few dribbles. The two teams would combine for 30 turnovers, 15 each, but GW would take advantage of those opportunities, outscoring the Dukes 16-10 in points off turnovers.

In the first half, it was raining threes for both teams. Duquesne would enter into Colonial territory as the worst three-point defense in the Atlantic 10, but they would also bring with them the conference’s hottest shooter: Micah Mason.

Mason, who came in shooting 61 percent from three, led all scorers at the half with 11 points, draining 3-4 from behind the arc. He would go scoreless, though, the entire second half.

GW combated with its three-point duo of Mikic and freshman Nick Griffin. Both hit two threes for the Colonials in the first half, Griffin’s coming on back-to-back possessions, as GW extended its first half lead to 15.

The Colonials would lead by as many as 19 in the game, up 30-11 with 7:48 left in the first, but that large lead wouldn’t last as the Dukes would end the half on a 19-6 run.

“That was probably the first half time I went off a little bit today, trying to be a lot more positive because we have a mature team, an experienced team,” Lonergan said. “But that was definitely disappointing to be up by 19 at home. We kind of blew it because of some breakdowns.”

GW would return the favor in the second half, though, possibly with some help from the biceps of Soko.

Soko, Duquesne’s leading scorer, would record a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, but ultimately do minimal damage to GW, going just 7-13 from the line.

Garino would lead the way for the Colonials, scoring 11 of his game-high 17 points in the second half. Three others would finish in double figures for Lonergan – Armwood with 14, Larsen with 13 and Mikic with 11 – but that wasn’t what impressed the head coach most.

“We had 23 assists on 26 baskets,” Lonergan interjected. “Everyone will talk about four guys in double figures, but I like seeing a lot of guys with multiple assist games, because we’re a very unselfish team and if we reverse and share the ball, we’re pretty good.”

GW will defend its now 11-0 record at the Smith Center Saturday when they face off against Fordham at 4 p.m.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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This post was written by Hatchet sports editors Sean Hurd and Nick Ong.

You know it’s a blowout when six different Colonials score in double figures.

You know it’s a blowout when only one GW starter needed to play more than 20 minutes.

But, most importantly, you know it’s a blowout when athletic director Patrick Nero offered up free hot dogs if GW scored over 100 points.

Sophomore forward Patricio Garino dunks during Tuesday's 94-50 win over Delaware State. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer

Sophomore forward Patricio Garino dunks during Tuesday’s 94-50 win over Delaware State. Aly Kruse | Hatchet Photographer

GW came up just short of the century mark in its 94-50 win against Delaware State Tuesday night, but the Colonials’ bench nearly outscored the entire Hornets team, netting 48 points.

By the end of the first half, 10 different players had scored and by the end of the game, every Colonial had grabbed at least one rebound.

“Some of our bench guys were a little shaky in the first half, but it was nice to be able to play them extended minutes,” Lonergan said. “To be able right now to have Patricio [Garino], Nemanja [Mikic] and John [Kopriva] coming off the bench, that’s really good for us.”

The blowout was sophomore Patricio Garino’s first game on the Smith Center floor this season and the forward looked like he hadn’t lost a beat. Garino went 4-6 from the field, totaling 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists in 19 minutes of play – reminding the home fans of his explosive ability to run the floor and get to the rim.

“I’m getting close [to 100 percent], but I think – coming back for a home game after two games not playing – I think it feels pretty good,” Garino said. “I didn’t have a good time being on the bench or on the sideline at practice. I totally hated it, but I’m glad to be back and I want to do whatever it takes to make my team better.”

As a whole, the Colonials dominated in every statistical category, putting on their best overall performance of the season to improve to 4-0 for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

Six GW players finished scoring in double figures, with senior forward Isaiah Armwood leading all scorers with 17. GW would end the game shooting 60 percent from the field, going 35-58 with 25 assists.

GW also continued their success from behind the three-point line, shooting 58.8 percent on the night – their highest mark this season. Entering the game, Delaware State (1-3) had held opponents to 18.8 percent shooting from long range.

While graduate guard Maurice Creek was once again lights out, going 3-3 from the behind three-point arc, a new Colonial came through as another long-range threat: freshman Nick Griffin. The 6-foot-2 guard, who Lonergan tagged as a “zone buster,” shot a perfect 4-4 from beyond the arc Tuesday.

“Coach always talks about ‘Know your role,’ and he always tells me when I have open shots to shoot the ball,” Griffin said. “I’m just glad my teammates were able to find me out there and I was able to knock some shots down.”

Griffin would finish the game as the Colonials’ second-highest scorer and minutes eater, with 14 points and 21 minutes played.

The Colonials took ownership over the paint as well, outscoring the Hornets 44-18 there. Throughout the game, GW was scoring basket after basket down low, driving into the paint at will, and on multiple occasions finding either Armwood or sophomore Kevin Larsen for a crowd-pleasing slam. GW would out-rebound the Hornets by 17, 41-24.

The Colonials held  Delaware State to just 19 points in the first half off 28 percent shooting. It wouldn’t get much better for the Hornets, who would finish the game 14 points below their season average of 64.

Lonergan said after the game that he wanted to disrupt the Delaware State offense that likes to “shorten the game, run the clock and run the shot clock down.”

“We wanted to come out and force the tempo, play at out pace,” Lonergan said. “We tried to come after them with man-to-man, then we put our one-three-one on and stretched it out a little, and just got them to play a little faster than they usually do.”

The Colonials are in the best position possible before making the trip to California for the Wooden Legacy Tournament. With an undefeated record and ample time before their opening round matchup against Miami, Lonergan said he is focused on getting his team prepared both mentally and physically for what is sure to be the Colonials’ biggest weekend of 2013.

“I mean, you’d like to not have a break when you’re playing well,” Lonergan said. “But it’s a good time for us to have a break right now and take the trip out there to prepare.”

This post was updated on Nov. 20, 2013 at 12:05 a.m. to reflect the following

Correction appended
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the last 4-0 start for the Colonials was the 2006-07 season. They actually started 4-0 during 2009-10.

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