LAHAINA, HAWAII-The GW men’s basketball team traveled 5,000 miles last week to find out just how well it could compete against the best teams in the country.
The results proved inconclusive.
The Colonials won two of three games at the Maui Invitational Nov. 24-26, but finished fifth out of eight teams and did not play well in their opening-round loss to the University of Kentucky.
GW left the island paradise with a 5-1 record on the season, but the Colonials were flat in their first match up with a ranked team, a 70-55 loss to the Wildcats. The Colonials now have lost their last five games against ranked opponents.
GW Coach Mike Jarvis said he was disappointed with his team’s showing offensively against Kentucky, but was pleased GW was able to come back and get two solid wins.
“At the end of the year when the NCAA Tournament is looking at teams, obviously it helps to have quality wins against quality conferences,” he said.
GW 60, DePaul 46
GW clinched fifth place with a 60-46 win over a DePaul team that couldn’t shoot straight Nov. 26.
The Blue Demons launched 57 shots against GW, only 17 of which found the basket. DePaul shot 30 percent overall and scored only three points in the entire second quarter. The tournament used an NCAA experimental four-quarter game format.
Senior center Alexander Koul led GW with 17 points, five rebounds and three blocks. Koul controlled play in the lane against one of the smallest teams in Division I. DePaul regularly plays four guards and its tallest player, Ayinde Avery, stands 6-9.
GW took control in the second quarter, outscoring the Blue Demons 13-3. DePaul shot seven percent from the field in the quarter, hitting only one of 15 shots. The Colonials led 24-19 at halftime.
GW coasted in the second half behind Koul and forwards Pat Ngongba and Yegor Mescheriakov. Ngongba scored 12 points and Mescheriakov added nine. Point guard Shawnta Rogers had eight points, eight assists and five rebounds.
DePaul never made a serious run in the second half, as GW steadily built a lead. Star Blue Demon guard Jermaine Watts scored 16 points, but shot a miserable 6 of 19. Willie Coleman was DePaul’s only consistent shooter, hitting 6 of 12 shots, including four three-pointers. Coleman finished with 16 points.
GW 76, Boston College 64
A day after a horrible offensive performance against Kentucky, GW was again flat in the opening minutes of Nov. 25 game with Boston College. Midway through the first quarter, the Colonials trailed 12-5. That’s when Seco Camara entered the game.
Camara got hot and so did GW, while Boston College proceeded to go nearly eight minutes without a field goal. Camara hit four three-pointers as part of a 20-1 run by the GW reserves, which put the Colonials ahead 25-13 two minutes into the second quarter. Camara tied his career high with 12 points.
“We relaxed when their subs came off the bench,” BC Coach Al Skinner said. “In that second quarter they were responsible for a good number of their points and gave them a tremendous lift. We didn’t have the defensive intensity we needed.”
“We play a lot of people and obviously, if you get significant contributions out of them like we did tonight, then that’s a big difference,” Jarvis said. “But they’re different teams. I don’t think anyone is going to have that kind of run against Kentucky this year.”
GW led 39-24 at halftime, but Boston College, led by Mickey Curley’s scoring, closed the gap. Curley scored eight of his game-high 25 points in the third quarter as the Eagles got within four points of GW at 52-48 with 1:49 left in the quarter.
The Colonials responded. Ngongba was fouled on a layup and made the free throw to complete a three-point play. On the final play of the third quarter, Andrei Krivonos penetrated and fed Ngongba for a dunk to give GW a 60-50 lead. The Colonials cruised from there to the 12-point win.
GW rebounded from its poor offensive showing against Kentucky to shoot 47 percent, including 7 of 15 from three-point range. Jarvis said his team’s offensive execution was much better.
“Our ball movement was a lot better. It’s a funny game, many times it’s just about confidence,” Jarvis said. “They were different shots tonight. Last night we had closer shots, but they were harder shots. Tonight, because of their zone, we got some wide open looks at the basket.”
Kentucky 70, GW 55
GW’s opening round loss to Kentucky was a folly of offensive errors on Nov. 24. An Alexander Koul shot missed the rim by two feet and bounded off the backboard. Yegor Mescheriakov dropped the ball on a fast break. The normally sure-handed Shawnta Rogers dribbled the ball off his leg out of bounds.
The Colonials shot 34 percent and gave the ball away 21 times. GW shot an anemic 19 percent in the first half as Kentucky built a 16-point halftime lead.
“I wish a few more shots had fallen,” Jarvis said. “Our defense, on most nights, would have been good enough to make this a close game. I wasn’t pleased with our offense – we have a lot of work to do on it.”
“We did a good job of contesting shots and limiting their second chances,” Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith said. “Our concentration was to limit Koul’s touches and really make Rogers work to bring the ball up.”
Kentucky’s defense never gave GW breathing room. Koul was surrounded by three defenders every time he touched the ball. The senior was hounded into 3 of 7 shooting and eight points. The Colonials outside shooters never got their shots to fall, until a GW run late in the fourth quarter cut the Kentucky lead to 62-49, but it was too little too late.
Jarvis credited the Kentucky defense, but said his team’s poor offensive showing was more a lack of execution by the Colonials.
“We were missing shots around the basket, and I would say that’s more us than them,” he said.