Sophomore Kethan Savage drives past a Rhode Island defender in GW’s easy win Saturday. Savage finished with 14 points. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor
For GW, there’s no place like home.
GW (13-3, 1-1) used one of its best first-half efforts and the energy of the home-court crowd to take down Rhode Island, 69-56. The win, its first conference win after a tough loss to La Salle Thursday, keeps the Colonials at a perfect 8-0 on the season at the Smith Center.
The Colonials were led by sophomore forward Kevin Larsen’s 17 points on 8-10 shooting in just 24 minutes of play. While the Rams struggled on offense, Larsen flourished, scoring six points in just the first three minutes.
“When I get off to a good start, it usually gives me a good game for the rest of the game,” Larsen said. “I was just trying to shake off the La Salle loss. I missed a lot of open layups and it had been bothering me since the game, so I was just trying to come in and score.”
Although only a 13-point win for the Colonials, at the half, GW was up by 24. The Rams had failed to score until the 13:50 mark in the first half – on a goaltending call – and didn’t actually find the basket until the 11:17 mark. But by then, it was a 19-4 GW lead.
URI shot just 24 percent from the field in the first, while committing nine turnovers that led to eight points for the Colonials. They were dominated on the boards 24-15, subsequently getting outscored by GW 26-10 in the paint.
At a timeout midway through the first, head coach Dan Hurley slammed his clipboard down to the ground in frustration. It would later reach a point, though, where he didn’t even need to say anything at all.
His URI squad just couldn’t get anything to fall, not reaching double digits until 1:43 left in the first half, while GW seemed to score on almost every possession. The stand out duo of Xavier Munford and E.C. Matthews was limited to a combined 15 points on 6-20 shooting.
“We knew this was a big game for us,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “We didn’t have a lot of turnaround time getting back late Thursday night after La Salle, so we just told our guys, there’s a good buzz around our program and there’s no shame in losing.”
The Colonials would lead by as many 32 points after starting the second half on a 6-0 run, but Lonergan admittedly said they tried to eat some clock down the stretch in the second half.
The Rams used that time to crawl back into the game, fueled by a season-high 16 points on 8-9 shooting from freshman Hassan Martin. But even as GW failed to knock down a three until 5:39 left to go in the game, the Colonials kept the lead at double-digits with their play in the paint.
“It’s really important for us to establish an inside game,” Lonergan said. “Mo Creek is going to get hot again that’s for sure, but we have to get the ball inside. It gets teams in foul trouble and gets us to the free throw line.”
Also finishing in double digits for GW were sophomores Patricio Garino, who finished with 14 points and five rebounds, and Kethan Savage, who also finished with 14. Senior Isaiah Armwood played a team-high 34 minutes, putting up 10 points, while bringing down 10 boards.
The Colonials again will have a short turnaround time until a very tough matchup with VCU on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Lonergan said the team will need to be confident and composed with the ball against the Rams’ havoc defense and find other ways to score of they struggle shooting the ball from outside.