Despite Comeback, GW Falls to Memphis in NCAA Tournament (AUDIO)
In their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2007, the George Washington Colonials were unable to advance past the second round, losing their first game to the Memphis Tigers Friday night 71 to 66 in Raleigh, N.C.
Senior guard Joe Jackson hit a free throw 30 seconds into the game and Memphis never looked back, never trailing for the final 39 and a half minutes of the game.
Graduate transfer Maurice Creek had a 3-point attempt fall short with 3 seconds to go that would have tied the game at 69. The air-ball ended a disappointing night for Maurice Creek, finishing with 9 points and shooting 2-13 from the field.
“I caught the ball cleanly,” said Creek after the game, “it just didn’t fall. I thought I got a great look.”
Sophomore forward Kevin Larsen and senior forward Isaiah Armwood combined to score 37 of the Colonials 66 points. Armwood led all scorers with 21 points and 5 rebounds while Larsen finished with 16 points and 4 rebounds.
In the first half, George Washington fell back early, thanks to outside shooting and offensive rebounds by Memphis. Tim Riordan and Jeff Pawling worried about offensive rebounding in their pregame report.
Early in the game, GW used a strategy of getting the ball down low to Kevin Larsen, and he took advantage of his size advantage to score easy baskets. Larsen finished the half 5-5 from the field
The Colonials trailed 31-26 at half time. In the first half, Memphis was led by 3 first half 3-pointers Chris Crawford, who finished the game with 9 points. In the intermission, Riordan and Pawling thought that GW would need to get back to pounding the paint to lower the deficit.
George Washington came out of the intermission hot, getting the deficit down to 2 points at one point. Memphis began to pull away once again because the Colonials began to struggle from the free throw line.
The Colonials were able to close the gap over the final 10 minutes, correcting many of the mistakes they made earlier in the game. GW rode a 14-3 run down the stretch to have two shots to tie the game with under a minute left to play. Nemanja Mikic missed his 3-pointer off the front of the rim, and Maurice Creek missed the rim on his. Memphis was able to hold on in the end, to send the Colonials home early by a score of 71-66.
The Tigers were led offensively by impressive efforts by senior guards Dominic Dixon, Jr. and Joe Jackson, who scored 19 points and 15 points respectively. David Pellom, who transferred to Memphis after 4 seasons at GW, scored 4 points and grabbed 2 rebounds in 14 minutes.
Creek had to leave the game early in the first half for several minutes before returning to the game with 10 new stitches above his eye.
The game ended a surprising season for the Colonials. After being picked to finish 10th in the Atlantic 10 pre-season poll, GW used a balanced offense, a stingy defense, and wins over Creighton and VCU to earn the 3rd seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament and an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament.
After the loss, Colonials Head Coach Mike Lonergan was already looking forward to the future. “I told the guys we don’t want to be one-hit wonders. We want to be back next year.”