After suffering its first loss of the season to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the GW men’s basketball team took it out on American University three nights later.
The Colonials (3-1) had their best offensive showing of the young season against the Eagles after losing on the road to the 49ers.
GW is back in action at 4 p.m. Sunday when it takes on DePaul University at the MCI Center in the first round of the BB&T Classic.
GW 97, American 76
For the first time in the regular season, both the offense and defense clicked for the Colonials as they beat American 97-76 at Bender Arena Wednesday night.
Shawnta Rogers scored 25 points and notched a career-high 14 assists to lead GW past the Eagles (3-3), while Mike King scored 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds. The Colonials shot 50 percent from the field while AU shot just 38 percent.
“I thought our defensive intensity level was back where it was in our first two games,” GW head coach Tom Penders said.
GW took a 52-32 lead at halftime behind Rogers’ 20 first-half points. GW closed the half with a 21-10 run to take control of the game.
American came out with some intensity in the second half and cut the lead to seven at 61-54 with 12:51 remaining on a fast-break layup by Omar Vanderhorst. But GW answered with a 15-3 run keyed by the outside shooting of Rogers and Seco Camara and the post play of Yegor Mescheriakov, who finished with 19 points.
American stayed in the game with foul shots. The Eagles went to the charity strip 41 times and made 31 free throws, while GW took just 12 foul shots.
UNCC 76, GW 68
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The current advertising slogan for UNCC athletics is, “Not Now . The ‘Niners Are Playing.”
Perhaps after its performance Sunday night, GW wished the 49ers were not “playing,” because the Colonials would have had trouble hitting the broadside of Halton Arena in losing 76-68 Sunday night.
In suffering their first loss of the season to a team picked by most preseason prognosticators near the bottom of Conference USA, the Colonials threw up 30 three-point attempts, finding the range on only six. Senior point guard Shawnta Rogers was the worst offender, launching 14 from behind the arc, making only three, two of which came in the last 30 seconds, when the 49ers’ victory was well in hand.
At one point, the Colonials missed nine straight three-pointers, a streak highlighted by two airballs and one blocked attempt by Rogers. Inside the arc, the Colonials were passable, shooting 42.5 percent (17 of 40). Combined with the three-point shooting, the total field goal percentage was a comatose 32.9 percent.
After suffering his first loss at GW, first-year coach Tom Penders said the 12-day layoff since GW’s win over the University of Illinois Nov. 17 was a contributing factor to his team’s play.
“We haven’t played in a couple weeks,” Penders said. “A combination of that and I thought Charlotte looked very sharp. We never could quite climb the mountain.”
The Colonials were playing the second game of a five-game stretch that will take them away from the Smith Center for four weeks.
If the Colonials had trouble finding the net by themselves, the 49ers were no help. UNCC (3-1) blocked 10 shots, led by six from freshman Charles Hayward, who fought a bout with leukemia into remission last April. When the Colonials’ shots did leave their hands, they didn’t always make it to the hoop. GW chucked up six airballs, much to the delight of the sparse but vocal Thanksgiving-break crowd.
The Colonials took an 8-6 lead five minutes into the game, but in the process of scoring only 10 points in the first 10 minutes, GW fell behind 20-10. Behind the team’s 11-for-15 free-throw shooting and junior forward Francisco de Miranda’s 12 first-half points, the Colonials climbed within four at the half, 39-35.
Led by balanced scoring and fairly good execution, the 49ers opened up a 55-41 lead with 13:02 left in the second half, and the game was essentially over. The Colonials, scoring only in spurts that UNCC always answered, could get no closer than six the rest of the way. The Colonials dropped in 10 points in the final 56 seconds, but the 49ers answered with seven free throws to preserve their large cushion.
“We got outhustled today,” de Miranda said. “We had opportunities to win, but we didn’t. They just worked harder than us. The layoff hurt us. We see teams that have played six, seven games. We’re only on our third game. We can definitely learn a lot from this game if we take it to practice.”
GW was led in scoring by Rogers (15 points), who played the entire game. De Miranda’s team leading nine rebounds were complemented by 5-of-7 shooting for 12 points. Freshman Albert Roma started his second straight game, but after winning the opening tip, he committed two fouls in 75 seconds and went to the bench.
Penders said he thought de Miranda has raised his level of play after a foot injury sidelined sophomore forward Anxton Iturbe.
“Francisco’s stepped up,” Penders said. “He’s doing a good job. When we get Iturbe back, we’ll have a nice rotation with Iturbe, Francisco and Patrick (Ngongba).”