GW Dominates St. Bonaventure in Atlantic 10 Opener
Men’s Basketball Writer
WASHINGTON – What a difference a week makes.
The Colonials followed up a disheartening performance in Georgia five nights ago by converting 12 of their first 14 shots and never looking back en route to an easy 78-59 victory over reigning Atlantic 10 Tournament champion St. Bonaventure in their Atlantic 10 opener at the Charles E. Smith Center.
Head coach Mike Lonergan raised eyebrows before the game when it was confirmed that he would be starting five newcomers: freshmen Joe McDonald, Kethan Savage, Patricio Garino, and Kevin Larsen along with redshirt transfer Isaiah Armwood. But his gamble paid off in a big way as the newcomers accounted for 44 of the Colonials’ 78 points. Armwood secured another double-double with a strong performance in which he scored 11 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Savage and Garino complimented each other well and each finished with 12 points.
“It was more a decision to bring Lasan [Kromah] off the bench off the bench and less a decision to start four freshmen,” explained Lonergan after the game. “Lasan had been struggling for a few games and we saw this as a chance to get him back in rhythm.”
If that was the thought process, then the coaching staff was certainly on to something, as Lasan Kromah responded positively with an impressive performance off the bench in which he scored 14 points on 5-5 shooting to go along with three rebounds. Senior guard Bryan Bynes also seemed to fill his bench role more effectively, finishing with nine points and three rebounds.
On a broader level, GW seemed to be extremely prepared for tonight’s matchup, giving many the impression that the tough non-conference schedule the Colonials faced ultimately benefited the team, even if some of the results were less than stellar.
“I feel like the team has learned from each game,” said Lonergan. “In that sense, the non-conference schedule did its job.”
For the Bonnies, Chris Johnson led the way with 17 points on 7-12 shooting. Yet, he was really the only St. Bonaventure player to find any sort of rhythm as the rest of the team combined to shoot 34 percent from the field. Demitrius Conger added 11 points and three rebounds for the Bonnies and Eric Mosley came off the bench to score 10 points in the losing effort.
However, St. Bonaventure can, at least, attempt to find solace in the prospect that they ran into a trap at the Smith Center on Wednesday night, expecting to face the GW team that shot 25 percent in Athens five nights ago and instead facing a GW squad that seemed to make virtually everything they put up. As for the Colonials, they have to be pleased with the way they responded from one of the most depressing losses in recent memory. The entire team clicked in all facets of the game offensively and defensively and there is no doubt that tonight’s game will give rise to some hope in the minds of Colonials fans everywhere.
However, the question continues to be one of consistency for this team. While this was a great way to tip off Atlantic 10 play in 2013, we have also seen similar performances from GW this season, with their games against Hofstra and Sacred Heart the first to come to mind. Their strong performance tonight quickly put away a decent St. Bonaventure team still trying to figure out how to fill the void left by Andrew Nicholson. But this same time of performance will not likely have the exact same results against their next two opponents, Xavier and Temple. Yet, the Colonials will have to, at least, approach and likely even exceed their performance tonight if they want to have a chance at pulling a couple of upsets in a row. But if the non-conference schedule had the desired effect Coach Lonergan claims, it should be an interesting pair of games in the next week for the Buff and Blue.
With the win, the Colonials move back to .500 with a record of 7-7. They now get set for a road showdown with Xavier in Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon. Tip-off is at 4 p.m. and you can listen to all the action on WRGW Sports-Colonials Radio Central.