Thursday night at the Smith Center, senior point guard Shawnta Rogers scored a career-high 36 points, leading the GW men’s basketball team to its fifth straight victory, an 81-69 win over Dayton.
Rogers hit six three-point shots, tying the Smith Center record for the most three-pointers in a game.
Rogers’ first points came 40 seconds into the first half as he picked up a loose ball after a turnover by Dayton forward Coby Turner and left everyone in the dust for an easy layup.
After an offensive rebound, one of six for sophomore forward Patrick Ngongba, and an assist from sophomore guard Mike King, Rogers cashed in with his second field goal, a pull-up jumper. Rogers drove the lane and stopped on a dime. Dayton guard Edwin Young looked back and Rogers was already in the air, the shot on its way.
Once Young was forced to back off to contain Rogers’ drive, the 5-4 guard got a high pick, pulled up from the arc and sunk his first three-pointer at 17:44.
Dayton subbed in guard Andy Metzler to cover Rogers, but Metzler had no more luck than Young. At the perimeter, Rogers hesitated on his dribble, went left, crossed over to his right, and then crossed over quickly back to his left, taking a step back. Metzler nearly fell over, and Rogers drained his second three at 14:20 as the crowd of 4,172 dropped their jaws and cheered.
After turning the ball over, Rogers compensated with another three at 12:53, on an assist by sophomore forward Antxon Iturbe. Rogers scored five points in the rest of the half, as the Colonials struggled offensively, allowing Dayton back into the game.
Coming out of halftime with a one-point lead, the Colonials pounded the ball inside on consecutive trips down the floor. The strategy opened up the offense again for Rogers’ outside shot later in the game.
“We came out in the second half and just pounded the ball inside time after time after time after time,” said GW head coach Tom Penders. “And then Shawnta stung them when they started to forget about him.”
Rogers went on a tear at 15:35, and started to carry out this strategy, hitting his fourth three-pointer. Within four minutes, Rogers scored 12 points, including two transition layups, an off-balance fade-away jump shot, and his fifth three-pointer, a bomb from well beyond the arc. With 11:48 left in the game, Rogers already had 30 points, and GW led 54-44.
At 9:17, Rogers went on the bench with 31 points after making a free throw. Rogers was noticeably tired, hunched over the press table during an official timeout at 7:51, but was back in the game at the whistle. Rogers hit another free throw at 6:42, but was stuck at 32, one point short of his career high of 33 points set against Siena College earlier this season.
Then with 3:21 left in the game, Rogers gave the crowd what it wanted to see. Rogers sunk his record-tying sixth three-pointer, and with a pumped fist and a smile, broke his career high, and was now at 35 points. Rogers closed out his scoring at 36 with one last free throw.
“He’s worth the price of admission,” Penders said. “I think everybody can identify with him. He’s a confident kid with absolutely no arrogance. He’s a wonderful kid, he’s what college athletics should be all about. Every coach should have an opportunity to coach someone like that, and I’m just glad that I had the opportunity to coach him.”
“My stroke was there tonight, so I was just taking it,” Rogers said after making 6 of his 8 three-point attempts to go along with 5 assists, 5 steals and 4 rebounds.
“Shawnta’s role is to get 30, play great basketball, and make me look smart,” Penders said, laughing. “That’s his role.”