The GW men’s basketball team knew coming into the BB&T Classic that DePaul University had one of the top freshman classes in the country.
But the Colonials found out that the Blue Demons have more than three star freshmen on the roster, as DePaul’s role players led them to an 87-79 victory at the MCI Center.
GW limited DePaul’s leading scorer, freshman Quentin Richardson, to just two points in the game, although he did suffer a sprained ankle in the first half that slowed him for the rest of the game. And while fellow freshman sensations Lance Williams and Bobby Simmons combined to score 33 points, four other players scored in double figures for a DePaul team that gets the majority of its points from its freshmen.
“They (DePaul) played with a lot of maturity,” GW head coach Tom Penders. “They wouldn’t crack, and we made some runs at them.”
The turning point in the game came at the midway point of the second half on a series of bizarre plays. With 10:15 remaining and GW trailing 63-56, sophomore Mike King knocked the ball out of a DePaul player’s hands before he had made the in-bounds pass, which resulted in two technical foul shots for DePaul. At the 9:38 mark, Penders complained to the referee that Shawnta Rogers was fouled in the act of shooting. The referee called another technical foul, and DePaul’s Kerry Hartfield sank two more free throws for a 67-56 lead. A second technical was called for more complaining by Penders, and he was ejected from the game.
“Both teams thought they (the technicals) were totally unwarranted,” Penders said. “Shawnta Rogers ran in front of our bench and went for a jumper and had his arm almost taken out of its socket and there’s no call. I said `That’s a foul.’ Technical foul.” Penders said he said nothing profane to the officials and that he made no comments that are not made in the course of any college game.
Another made technical free throw extended the Blue Demons’ lead to 12 at 68-56. GW would cut the lead to six points on two occasions but would get no closer down the stretch.
GW was led by Yegor Mescheriakov’s 26 points, including 20 in the first half on blistering 9-of-10 shooting. But he would make just two field goals in the second as GW struggled offensively.
“We said at halftime that we needed to double down on him,” DePaul head coach Pat Kennedy said. “We couldn’t stop him. But what I think I saw more than anything until I see the tape is that he didn’t get the ball that much.”
Junior Francisco de Miranda also turned in a solid performance with 17 points and six rebounds in only 15 minutes of playing time. But the rest of the Colonials didn’t show up on the offensive end. Rogers and King each scored 11 points, but Rogers hit just four of his 18 shots, while King hit just five of his 15 shots.
“Our first key to victory was to really try and slow down Shawnta Rogers,” Kennedy said. “We had seen their American University game and I told our players inch-for-inch, if he gets cooking he is devastating.”
The Colonials shot 41 percent from the field but shot just 19 percent from three-point range, including 1 for 8 by Rogers.
The game was a back-and-forth affair until midway through the first half. DePaul led 23-22 when it went on a 13-2 run led by seven points from guard Rashon Burton to take a 36-24 lead.
In the first game of the day, No. 2 University of Maryland defeated No. 5 Stanford University, 62-60. The Colonials will play Stanford Monday at 6 p.m. in the consolation game at the MCI Center, and Maryland and DePaul will square off in the championship at 8:30 p.m.