The GW men’s basketball team’s 1997-’98 season was a memorable one.
The Colonials tied a school record for wins with a 24-9 record, finished second in the Atlantic 10 and returned to the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence. For the Colonials and their fans, the season had many great moments and several disappointments. Here are a few:
12/8/97 – Junior Seco Camara sank the biggest shot of his career against 17th-ranked Maryland in the championship game of the Franklin National Bank Classic. Camara’s three-pointer from the right wing with a minute remaining clinched the win for GW. It was the Colonials’ first win over a ranked team in two years.
1/14/98 – Freshman guard Mike King was the hero of GW’s thrilling 78-73 overtime win over 18th-ranked Xavier at the Smith Center. GW had lost Yegor Mescheriakov to an ankle injury and trailed 57-49 with six minutes remaining. King, who had just become academically eligible for the second semester, entered the game. He scored GW’s next eight points, but the most enduring image was of the 6-5 guard making two free throws to tie the game with no time remaining. “I knew he was money,” Shawnta Rogers said of King after the game.
2/7/98 – GW defeated St. Joseph’s for its first win on Hawk Hill in seven years. The win was the Colonials’ seventh in a row and improved their record to 20-3. The following day, the Associated Press ranked GW 17th in the nation, the school’s highest ranking in 42 years.
3/6/98 – The Colonials outscored Temple 16-2 during the final five minutes and stunned the Owls 78-64 in the semifinals of the A-10 Tournament in Philadelphia, Pa. GW overcame a poor finish to the season to reach its second-ever A-10 Tournament Championship game. The Colonials outrebounded and outhustled the Owls all game.
“I’m very proud of our team,” GW Coach Mike Jarvis said. “I do have a special group of kids who learn from adversity and losses.” The win was GW’s 24th of the season, tying the school record set in 1954-’55.
12/24/97 – GW fumbled away its first match-up against a quality opponent, losing 70-55 to the ninth-ranked University of Kentucky in the first round of the Maui Invitational. In its first-ever game with the Wildcats, GW committed 21 turnovers and shot 19 percent in the first half in one of its worst offensive performances of the season.
1/10/98 – Massachusetts brought GW back to reality with a 31-point drubbing at the Mullins Center. The loss snapped the Colonials’ eight-game winning streak. “This was sort of like a hit on the head, maybe we know who we are again,” Jarvis said after the game.
3/7/98 – GW fell short of winning its first A-10 title, losing to Xavier in the championship game. GW turned the ball over 20 times and committed 29 fouls. The Musketeers sealed the win with several dunks in the final minutes, expanding their lead to as many as 15 points.
3/13/98 – The Colonials were badly outplayed in a season-ending 74-59 loss to Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Lexington, Ky. After a stellar regular season, GW played one of its worst games of the season. “Every ending is a new beginning and tonight we just began the 1998 season,” Jarvis said.