GW’s Comeback Effort Falls Short in Loss to #14 Butler
Men’s Basketball Writer
WASHINGTON – For a little over 30 minutes of action, the outlook was bleak for GW in their matchup with #14 Butler at the Smith Center. The Bulldogs were, by no means, dominating the Colonials, but they were managing to get big shots at opportune moments, evidenced by a string of back-to-back jumpers by Butler’s renowned guard Rotnei Clarke to put the Bulldogs up 17.
But then, like magic, the Colonials awoke in resounding fashion.
Hard-nosed defense and timely baskets pulled the Colonials to within three with 10 seconds to play, but in the end, GW came up short in their comeback effort, falling to Butler 59-56 on Saturday afternoon.
Many factors had to swing in the Colonials’ favor just for them to even get as close as they did, but it seemed as though those factors swung all at once.
It started with the foul trouble that Butler’s big men Andrew Smith and Erik Fromm encountered late in the second half. Fromm was the first to foul out with 6:48 remaining on a questionable call in which GW guard Joe McDonald ran directly into Fromm, drawing the blocking foul from the referees. With Fromm out of the game, the onus fell on Smith to pick up the rebounding slack for the Bulldogs, but he quickly fouled out himself with 4:52 left, leaving Butler coach Brad Stevens in a predicament.
In addition, Butler’s free throw shooting also went south down the stretch, thanks in large part to the misses of Roosevelt Jones. Jones, who managed to have a solid day from the field, scoring 12 points on 5-10 shooting to go along with seven rebounds, kept the Colonials in the game thanks to a disappointing 2-9 from the charity stripe. He accounted for seven of the Bulldogs’ eight missed free throws on the afternoon.
But even despite the fact that Butler allowed GW back into the game, the Colonials still had to seize the opportunities presented to them and that they did. Hard-nosed defense combined with timely baskets and the benefit of being in a one-and-one situation for the final 9:33 of the game, allowed GW to slowly embark on a 25-11 run to end the game.
Yet, with a little over two minutes to go, it still seemed as though Butler could run the clock out and head home with a win. However, the aggressive defense of the Colonials forced Butler into turnovers and inexplicable mental mistakes and, as a result, GW cut the lead to one behind a pair of McDonald free throws with 44 seconds to play.
A tough foul call on Lasan Kromah and subsequent Kellen Dunham free throws for Butler gave the Bulldogs a three point lead with 23 seconds to go. The Colonials followed with two chances to force overtime, the first of which was an errant Joe McDonald three-pointer that failed to hit rim. However, an inbound violation on Roosevelt Jones gave GW another chance to tie the game. But McDonald’s attempt to draw a foul combined with a scramble for a loose ball that allowed the clock to run out sealed the Colonials’ fate.
Despite the close loss, GW can look back at the final stats and see several bright spots. Forward Isaiah Armwood bounced back from a rough first half to finish with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes. Lasan Kromah also was a spark plug off the bench, scoring 10 points and forcing three steals on the defensive end. McDonald was the only other Colonial in double figures, finishing with 10 points of his own. Patricio Garino also got it done on both offense and defense, chipping in nine points and seven rebounds while blocking two shots before fouling out with under two minutes left. As a team, the Colonials managed to fight back in the rebounding category, losing the battle by only five rebounds after being outrebounded 30-19 in the first half.
Yet, despite the perseverance and energy they displayed down the stretch, GW will look back at their three-point and free throw shooting as the main reasons for their defeat. The Colonials finished with a field goal percentage of just under 28 percent, shooting 1-12 from beyond the arc while going 21-30 from the free throw line. In a game where the margin for error was so small, these details become magnified even more and unfortunately for the Colonials, they just didn’t go their way.
Still, GW fans can be encouraged by the fight the Colonials showed down the stretch in the second half. It’s this type of fight that GW will have to replicate in order to have a chance of pulling an upset next week, when the Colonials (11-11, 5-4 Atlantic 10) make the short trip south to Richmond to face Shaka Smart’s formidable VCU squad.
That game can be heard on WRGW Sports-Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com. Coverage starts at 7:15 p.m. next Saturday with tipoff scheduled for 7:30.