McDonald’s Late Jumper Lifts GW Past Rhode Island
Men’s Basketball Writer
KINGSTON, R.I. – Freshman guard Joe McDonald’s clutch jumper with nine seconds left propelled GW to a big 66-65 victory over Rhode Island at the Ryan Center in a wild, back-and-forth game that had 19 ties and 20 lead changes.
Isaiah Armwood led the Colonials in scoring with 13 points on 6-9 shooting to go along with five rebounds while fellow big man Kevin Larsen also found himself in double figures with 10 points and four rebounds. Patricio Garino and Nemanja Mikic had eight points apiece and Bryan Bynes added six points off the bench in the winning effort.
But it was the aforementioned Joe McDonald who ultimately keyed the Colonials’ victory. While his final stat line of 12 points, three assists, and two rebounds may seem pedestrian, he came up with crucial plays down the stretch that allowed GW to come back from a five-point deficit with five minutes to play. The comeback started when, following a missed Garino jumper, McDonald drew a charge on Rhode Island guard Mike Powell as he attempted to complete a fast break with a layup that would have extended the Rams lead to seven. After an Armwood layup and GW defensive stop, McDonald came through again with a huge three-pointer that tied the game at 61 with 3:08 to go. The next three minutes were a back-and-forth struggle as both teams traded the lead. Xavier Munford’s layup with 37 seconds left put the Rams up one and set up another late game situation for the Colonials. During this season, GW has consistently found ways to botch these types of possessions, but tonight would prove to be different as McDonald knocked down a huge jumper to put the Colonials up for good. Munford had a chance to win it for Rhode Island but his three-pointer rimmed out and a put back layup attempt was blocked by Kevin Larsen at the buzzer to preserve the win for GW.
Munford had 20 points in the losing effort while Nikola Malesevic and Andre Malone added 16 and 14 points respectively for the Rams, who were looking to follow up their huge upset on the road over Saint Louis four nights ago with a win at home tonight.
However, it would be GW who would follow up a big win of their own over Massachusetts four days ago with another big road win tonight. They showed a lot of toughness and perseverance in their effort at the Ryan Center, engaging in a physical battle that saw them stay within at least five points of Rhode Island the entire night. Furthermore, over their past two games, they have showed a mental toughness that had eluded them the entire season, first holding off a late UMass charge in Amherst on Saturday and then, tonight, engaging in a back-and-forth contest where a string of even one or two empty possessions could have been the difference.
Yet, the biggest takeaway from tonight’s game for the Colonials has to be their execution of a late-game situation, execution that has proven to be evasive for GW prior to tonight. For a team that has had to endure a couple of gut-wrenching late-game defeats at home (Kansas State and Temple), this late-game win has to be a confidence and momentum builder for a team in the thick of the pack in the Atlantic 10. It is up to the Colonials to now build on this last second win and take that momentum back to Foggy Bottom for yet another crucial matchup with a formidable opponent.
That formidable opponent is the Charlotte 49ers (16-3, 4-1 Atlantic 10), who will visit Foggy Bottom on Saturday afternoon to face GW (9-9, 3-2 Atlantic 10) fresh off a big win of their own over Butler. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. and you can listen to all the action on WRGW Sports-Colonials Radio Central.