Guard Shawnta Rogers’ steal and four free throws in the final minute lifted the GW men’s basketball team to a 71-67 win over St. Bonaventure in its final regular season game Saturday at the Smith Center.
With the win, GW (22-7, 11-5 Atlantic 10) clinched second place in the A-10 West Division and guaranteed itself a first-round bye when the A-10 Tournament begins Wednesday in Philadelphia. The Colonials will face the winner of Wednesday’s Massachusetts/Virgina Tech first round game Thursday at 2:30.
Forward Pat Ngongba and reserve Seco Camara had 14 and 15 points respectively, but it was Rogers and senior Andrei Krivonos who won the game for GW in the final minute.
The game was tied at 67 with 20 seconds remaining. St. Bonaventure (16-13, 6-10 A-10) had possession and was setting up for the winning basket when Rogers stripped the ball from Bonnies’ guard Tim Winn.
Rogers (18 points) got to the loose ball first, and Winn grabbed Rogers’ jersey to prevent a breakaway and a game-winning layup for GW. Winn was called for an intentional foul, which sent Rogers to the free throw line for two foul shots with seven seconds left – and then gave the ball back to GW.
Rogers made the two free throws to put the Colonials ahead 69-67. GW got possession, and Rogers was fouled again and made two more free throws to seal the win, 71-67.
The Colonials had led for the last 17 minutes of the second half before David Capers’ three-pointer gave St. Bonaventure a 67-65 lead with 20 seconds left. However, Krivonos was fouled during the shot. The officials ruled that Capers made the shot before the foul, but Krivonos was sent to the free throw line and made two foul shots to tie the game at 67.
“There isn’t anybody, besides Shawnta, who I would rather have at the line at the end of the game than Andrei Krivonos,” GW coach Mike Jarvis said.
Senior Alexander Koul played only seven minutes and scored three points in his final game at the Smith Center. Koul committed three fouls in the first half, including a technical. He was called for his fourth foul 17 seconds into the second half and didn’t play the rest of the game.
However, the 6-8 Ngongba made up for Koul’s absence, set career-highs with 14 points, 3 steals and 2 blocks, tied a career-high with nine rebounds and even made a three-pointer. Camara added 15 points in 23 minutes, including three three-pointers.
“Their bench did a great job of giving them some fire,” St. Bonaventure Coach Jim Baron said. “Camara and Ngongba really stepped up.”
“I’m proud of Pat, who didn’t quit even when he was sitting on the bench,” Jarvis said. “His best days are still ahead of him.”
Rashaan Palmer led St. Bonaventure with a career-high 31 points and kept the Bonnies in the game in the second half.
GW led 31-29 at halftime, but the game was tied at 47 with 8:30 remaining. Then Camara fed Mike King for a layup, Yegor Mescheriakov (11 points) made a jump shot and Camara made a three-pointer. In all, GW scored seven straight points and led 54-47 with seven minutes remaining.
However, Palmer led the Bonnies back. Palmer converted a layup and was fouled. He made the free throw to bring St. Bonaventure within 54-50 with 4:45 left. A minute later, Palmer hit a jump shot to cut the Colonial lead to 58-55.
GW led 62-61 when Mescheriakov fed Ngongba for a dunk. But James Singleton answered for the Bonnies, intercepting a Mescheriakov pass and going the length of the court for a layup to cut GW’s lead to 64-63 with a minute remaining.
“St. Bonnies is an excellent basketball team,” Jarvis said. “I predict that whoever they play (Wednesday) in Philadelphia is going home. But it won’t be us.”
It was the final home game for not only Koul and Krivonos, but also seniors Darin Green and Rasheed Hazzard.