Sluggish Start Dooms GW in Home Loss to La Salle
Men’s Basketball Writer
WASHINGTON – Riding a three-game win streak and a surge of student excitement into a pivotal Atlantic 10 showdown with La Salle on their home floor, the last thing GW wanted to do was put forth a letdown performance. Yet, that is exactly what the Colonials did on Saturday afternoon, posting a flat effort in an 80-71 loss to La Salle at the Charles E. Smith Center.
Isaiah Armwood had a solid game, leading all scorers with 17 points to go along with nine rebounds in 36 minutes of action. Three other Colonials were in double figures, including Patricio Garino and Dwayne Smith, who posted 11 points each, and Kevin Larsen, who finished with 10 points. Lasan Kromah had 8 points and Joe McDonald posted 6 points despite struggling for most of the afternoon.
La Salle was led by guard D.J. Peterson, who scored 15 points off the bench on 5-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Ramon Galloway managed to finish with 15 points of his own despite shooting a disappointing 2-14 from the field as he went a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line. Forward Jerrell Wright gave the Colonials fits all afternoon, scoring 12 points and securing eight rebounds. The Explorers had three other players in double figures, including guards Sam Mills, Tyreek Duren, and Tyrone Garland.
It was an uphill battle for GW from the opening tip, as the Colonials quickly fell behind La Salle 12-3 in the first three and a half minutes of the game. The Explorers would extend their lead to as many as 15 points behind a strong first half from D.J. Peterson, 50 percent shooting from three point land, and 10 GW turnovers. The Colonials would attempt to chip away at the lead and went into halftime down 39-30.
The second half started very much like the first half, with the Colonials playing sluggishly and the Explorers taking advantage as La Salle built their lead to 20 with 8:44 remaining. GW mounted a valiant comeback effort from that point on, going on a 21-6 run over the next 5:40, capped off by back-to-back Isaiah Armwood three-pointers, to cut the lead to five with a little over three minutes left and send the sizable crowd into a frenzy. Unfortunately, that would be as close as the Colonials would get as made jumpers by Garland and Mills for La Salle would prove to be the final nail in GW’s coffin.
In a game that could have put the Colonials directly in the Atlantic 10 spotlight and sent a message to the rest of the conference, this was the worst possible performance GW could have put up today. The fear from many Colonials fans entering today was the possibility of the team coming out flat after garnering so much excitement from the student body about their chances going forward and unfortunately, those fears were realized at the Smith Center today. Up until the final eight minutes of the game, GW was dreadfully mistake prone, committing 15 turnovers in total and missing numerous defensive assignments that led to wide open three pointers for D.J. Peterson and company. This loss not only sets them back in the Atlantic 10 standings, it also defuses the momentum they had built up over their last three games.
However, there is no doubt, at least in my mind, that GW was beaten by a better team today. Let’s not forget that this is the same La Salle team that recently pulled off consecutive wins over Butler and VCU, both of which are nationally ranked. Their recent loss to Massachusetts at home may have given many GW fans the false sense that the Colonials were better than La Salle but, frankly, that just is not the case. La Salle (15-6, 5-3 Atlantic 10) could very well be dancing come tournament time in March and for GW to beat them in their next meeting on March 6th, they will have to put together a much more crisp and energetic effort than the one they put forth today.
For now, GW (10-10, 4-4 Atlantic 10) will look to regroup in their next game against a struggling Duquesne squad on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. and you can listen to the action on WRGW Sports-Colonials Radio Central at our alternate stream at wrgwsports.com.