Men’s Basketball Writer
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – After 37 minutes of back-and-forth basketball at the Barclays Center on Thursday night, it seemed as though George Washington was on the verge of pulling out another hard fought victory over the sixth seeded Massachusetts Minutemen in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Championship. However, over the final three minutes, the Colonials watched their season unravel right before their eyes as UMass used a 13-4 run to steal the win by a final score of 77-72.
GW had four scorers in double figures, including Isaiah Armwood, who secured his ninth and final double-double of the season with an impressive 16 points and 13 rebounds. Lasan Kromah finished with 11 points off the bench while Joe McDonald scored 10 points of his own. Yet, it was Kevin Larsen who led the team in scoring with 17 points to go along with seven rebounds.
However, it was Larsen’s travel in his own backcourt with 2:33 left that began the downward spiral for the Colonials, who, until that point, had been engaged in a tug-of-war with the Minutemen for control of the game. GW seemed to have taken control in the moments before, grabbing a five point lead with 3:53 remaining. However, the Minutemen stayed in it thanks to consecutive three-pointers by Trey Davis. Larsen’s turnover allowed UMass to gain possession and take the lead on a Chaz Williams’ with 2:24 to play.
The Colonials would fight back, briefly taking the lead on two occasions. However, UMass would respond immediately in both cases by exploiting GW’s fatigue that resulted in porous defense. Chaz Williams’ fastbreak layup with 1:18 left would give the Minutemen the lead for good, as the Colonials had, by that point, run out of gas and could not find an answer.
UMass finished with four players of their own in double figures, led by the aforementioned Williams, who scored 16 points to go along with eight assists and four rebounds. Trey Davis and Terrell Vinson added 14 points each and Raphiael Putney scored 12 in the win, which secured for them a meeting with third seeded Temple on Friday night.
As for GW, the Colonials’ season ended tonight in the most bitter way imaginable, as they let UMass escape with a win despite outplaying the Minutemen in most categories. GW outrebounded UMass 50-32, including 25-13 on the offensive glass. They outscored them in points in the paint and second chance points and even had a better free throw percentage than their opponents. However, their 0-8 line from beyond the arc and their 18 turnovers resulting in 14 UMass points stand out glaringly in a game that GW had every opportunity to win.
But instead, it is yet another close loss and a bitter ending to the season for a team whose 2012-13 campaign will undoubtedly be defined by missed opportunities. Look out on Sunday for a full recap of the Colonials’ season, featuring the highs and lows of yet another basketball season in Foggy Bottom.