UMass ends GW win streak

The GW men’s basketball team showed during the past month that last season’s lessons were well learned.

Throughout GW’s disappointing 15-14 season of 1996-97, Coach Mike Jarvis stressed that his young team still was learning how to win. In the last month, the more experienced Colonials have been winning games in bunches.

A Dec. 8 upset of then 19th-ranked University of Maryland sparked GW’s eight-game winning streak. The winning streak ended Saturday in Amherst, Mass. with a 31-point loss to Massachusetts. Despite the loss, the Colonials (13-3, 2-1 Atlantic 10) are off to their best start in 44 years.

Jarvis said the loss to UMass shows GW still has learning to do. He said that after an eight-game winning streak, his team forgot it has to do more than just show up to win. “This was sort of like a hit on the head. Now maybe we know who we are again.”

The Colonials won their first two A-10 games, topping La Salle and Duquesne at the Smith Center. GW faces 17th-ranked Xavier at home Wednesday in one of the most important conference games of the season.

UMass 79, GW 48

AMHERST, MASS. – GW’s eight-game winning streak came to an abrupt end with a 79-48 loss to UMass at the Mullins Center Saturday.

GW had soared to a 13-2 record, its best start since 1953-54, before running into the Minutemen (9-5, 3-0 Atlantic 10).

UMass dominated the Colonials in the paint on offense and defense. GW was outscored inside 47-28, out-rebounded by 12 and had eight shots blocked. Jarvis said in past games against UMass, GW had been able to control the inside game. That wasn’t the case Saturday.

“We didn’t do what we had to do and that was to establish an inside game,” Jarvis said. “We allowed their big men to basically push us around and dominate the boards.”

UMass senior Tyrone Weeks was a force inside with 14 rebounds and a career-high five blocks. He said he was motivated because GW had beaten the Minutemen twice in the Mullins Center during his career.

Weeks and junior center Lari Ketner kept GW center Alexander Koul in foul trouble the entire game and held him to just six points and a single rebound.

“We wanted to get Koul in foul trouble,” said Ketner, who had 21 points and five rebounds. In the second half GW was forced to play forwards Antxon Iturbe and Francisco de Miranda against Ketner because Koul was on the bench with four fouls.

GW trailed by 15 points at halftime, 40-25. UMass dealt GW the finishing blow midway through the second half with a 13-0 run and the Minutemen cruised through the rest of the game.

UMass jumped out to an early lead in the first half on tremendous outside shooting against GW’s zone defense. The Minutemen shot 54 percent from three-point range for the game and 63 percent from beyond the arc in the first half. UMass guards Monty Mack and Charlton Clarke blitzed the GW zone for five three-pointers in the first 20 minutes.

Jarvis said he used the zone to take away mismatches posed by UMass’ offense and to give Koul, who has been bothered by an injured ankle, a chance to get into the flow of the game.

The game was already slipping away in the first half when the Minutemen went on a 7-0 run while GW point guard Shawnta Rogers rested for two minutes on the bench. Rogers did not score in the second half and finished with 10 points and just one assist.

“Shawnta took too many shots,” Jarvis said of his point guard, who made just three of his 14 shots. He added that Rogers did not play selfishly, but that he was trying too hard to help the team win.

Prior to the game, the Minutemen raised a banner commemorating their trip to the NCAA Tournament last season. UMass Coach “Bruiser” Flint said this win was revenge for GW’s victory in the A-10 Tournament last year, which put UMass’ invitation to the NCAA Tournament in jeopardy. “We owe them,” he said.

GW 90, Duquesne 68

Junior Shawnta Rogers scored 16 points and 11 assists and freshman Mike King made his GW debut in a 90-68 win over Duquesne Jan. 7.

Yegor Mescheriakov and Alexander Koul added 14 and 12 points respectively as GW held the Dukes to 37 percent first-half shooting and built a 23-point lead. The Colonials shot 53 percent in the first half and led 47-24 at halftime. GW had the game well in hand throughout the second half, coasting to its eighth consecutive win and 2-0 in the A-10.

King, a 6-5 shooting guard who just became eligible for the second semester, debuted with seven points in six minutes of playing time.

King, from Lake Clifton High School in Baltimore, was named to the Baltimore Sun’s All-Metro first team as a senior. King signed a letter of intent in April, but did not meet the NCAA’s minimum academic requirements and spent the first semester in prep school. Jarvis saved GW’s final scholarship for King, who became eligible for the second semester by getting a qualifying score on the SAT.

GW 78, La Salle 68

La Salle shot 33 percent in the second half, and GW held off the Explorers to win its A-10 opener Jan. 4.

La Salle scored on its first possession of the second half to take a 38-37 lead. However, the Colonials responded with 54 percent second-half shooting and slowly pulled away for the win.

Koul led the Colonials with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Mescheriakov add 17 points and 7 rebounds.

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