George Washington Colonials (11-3, 1-0 A10) vs. Saint Louis Billikens (8-6, 0-1 A10)
7 PM, Charles E. Smith Center, Washington, DC
Media Coverage: WRGW, 1500 AM, CBSSN
Announcer: Raynell Cooper
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The Colonials look to keep their unbeaten home record alive in their Atlantic 10 home opener tonight against defending regular season conference champion Saint Louis.
GW held on for dear life in the conference opener at Saint Joseph’s on Saturday afternoon, as they allowed a 20-point lead dwindle over the final six minutes. Kevin Larsen‘s hook shot with 6:54 left gave the Colonials a 53-33 lead over the Hawks, but that would be GW’s final made field goal of the game as St. Joe’s mounted a 27-11 run, only to fall short and give Mike Lonergan his first win at St. Joe’s in five opportunities.
Larsen and Kethan Savage combined for 31 points and 15 rebounds in the win as the Colonials extended their win streak to five. Yuta Watanabe also shined on national television with 12 points, his fourth straight game with double-digit points.
Tonight’s contest begins a stretch in which GW plays three of four within the friendly confines of the Smith Center. It should be a welcome stretch for the team, as they have played five of their last six games outside of the District, including their three-game triumph in Honolulu over Christmas.
The Colonials welcome a Billikens squad that is enduring a transition year under head coach Jim Crews after losing all five starters from last year’s regular season champion team to graduation. Saint Louis is coming off a 65-53 home loss to Rhode Island and ranks last in the A10 in scoring offense with 60.6 points per game. The Colonials and Billikens have one common opponent so far this season. Saint Louis lost at Wichita State back on December 6th by a final of 81-52 while GW knocked off the Shockers 60-54 on Christmas Night.
WRGW’s coverage with Raynell Cooper begins at 6:50 with tip off scheduled for 7 pm on gwradio.com.
Men’s Basketball Writer
WASHINGTON – Coming off a disheartening loss to Richmond on Wednesday night, the George Washington Colonials had the eighteenth-ranked team in the country on the ropes with seven minutes left to play on Saturday afternoon at the Charles E. Smith Center. However, they could not carry that lead home to the finish, ultimately falling to the Saint Louis Billikens 66-58.
Kevin Larsen led the Colonials in scoring, finishing with 14 points on 7-14 shooting to go along with four rebounds. Seniors Lasan Kromah and Dwayne Smith combined for 22 points off the bench, with Kromah scoring 12 and Smith scoring 10, while Isaiah Armwood grabbed 10 rebounds. Patricio Garino also had a solid game, finishing with a modest stat line of eight points, six rebounds, and four steals in the losing effort.
Saint Louis (23-5, 12-2 Atlantic 10) was led by junior forward Dwayne Evans, who finished with an impressive line of 22 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes of action. Kwamain Mitchell was also a thorn in the Colonials’ sides, using his speed and explosiveness with the ball to finish with 18 points on 6-12 shooting. Jordair Jett also contributed off the bench for the Billikens, finishing with 11 points on an efficient 3-5 shooting.
The game itself can best be described as a good, old-fashioned slugfest dominated by physicality on both ends of the floor. The teams were equal inmost facets of the game, with both squads shooting about 41 percent from the field. Saint Louis grabbed 34 total rebounds while GW garnered 32 of their own. The Billikens turned the ball over 16 times compared to the Colonials’ 14.
But the game was decided on three-point and free throw shooting. The Billikens made three more three-pointers than GW did in the win while converting on 21 of their 24 free throw attempts. Meanwhile, the Colonials made only eight of their 15 free throw opportunities, once again creating headaches for Mike Lonergan, the coaching staff, and the GW fans in attendance on Saturday.
Yet, despite their woes in those two crucial categories, GW weathered a few Saint Louis runs and led by three with 7:12 remaining, sending the 3,258 in attendance into a frenzy. But, a 14-3 Billiken run over the next four and a half minutes proved to be too much for the Colonials to handle as Saint Louis took firm control of the game and proved by they are the eighteenth-ranked team in the country and, arguably, the best team in the Atlantic 10.
However, GW has nothing to hang their heads about following a hard-fought loss to a team that is, quite simply, more talented than they are. In fact, they can take pride in the fact that they forced a Saint Louis team averaging only 11 turnovers per game entering Saturday to commit 16 turnovers on the afternoon. In addition, the Colonials’ 1-3-1 zone employed in early portion of the second half created many problems for the Billikens that took a while to remedy.
However, coming close can only provide you so much solace and for the Colonials, while they did play one of their better games of the season and proved to be a worthy foe for a highly talented Billiken team, it still was not enough to come out with a win. In fact, the loss, combined with Dayton’s four point win over Richmond, puts GW in an extremely precarious spot entering the final week of the Atlantic 10 season. Regardless of who wins the matchup between Charlotte and St. Bonaventure, the Colonials will be in a three-way tie for eleventh place, with one of those teams on the outside looking in. The Colonials still control their own destiny entering the final week, with two wins assuring them a spot in Brooklyn. However, they have set themselves up for a nail-biting final week.
GW (12-15, 6-8 Atlantic 10) will now prepare for their final road game of the season, a tough rematch from earlier in the season with La Salle (20-7, 10-4 Atlantic 10) at the Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia. Coverage starts at 6:45 with tipoff at 7 p.m. on WRGW-Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com.