The GW men’s basketball team remained undefeated at home this season with a pair of weekend victories over Atlantic 10 foes Duquesne and Fordham at the Smith Center.
The Colonials also extended their winning streak to four games and have now won nine of their last 10 to improve to 13-5 on the season, 7-1 in the A-10.
GW will be on the road this week when it visits La Salle Wednesday and Virginia Tech Sunday.
GW 76, Fordham 63
The unthinkable happened once this week when Fordham defeated Massachusetts in the Mullins Center for its first-ever A-10 road win in 27 tries.
And it looked like the unthinkable might happen again when the Rams visited the Smith Center Sunday and a took a 38-32 lead into halftime.
But the Colonials went on a 19-6 run over the first eight minutes of the second half and cruised to a 76-63 victory.
“You need to have games where you have to come from behind,” GW head coach Tom Penders said. “I don’t like them, I mean I don’t like to go through them. But at halftime basically I just told our guys, I said at the four-minute mark – after the first four minutes – I expect it to be tied.”
Shawnta Rogers hit a three-pointer with just 13 seconds gone in the second period, as the Colonials began to chop away at Fordham’s lead. Three of Yegor Mescheriakov’s game-high 27 points came from the top of the key to pull GW within one at 41-40. The Colonials took the lead on a layup on an in-bounds play to freshman Andry Sola, who provided 15 points and three three-pointers in the game.
Mescheriakov capped the run by using a screen to dunk on the right baseline and give GW a 51-44 lead.
The Rams (8-10, 2-7 A-10) would narrow GW’s lead to five at one point but GW extended its lead to double digits to put the game out of Fordham’s reach.
GW 109, Duquesne 57
When GW’s walk-ons are in the game with three minutes left, something special is going on.
And when the final buzzer sounded, something special had happened. The Colonials set a record for margin of victory at the Smith Center Thursday by defeating Duquesne by 52 points in GW’s highest offensive output of the season.
“Today, shoot, they played better than (the University of) Maryland played against us,” said Duquesne head coach Darelle Porter, whose team lost to the Terrapins 81-47 Nov. 23. “I told our guys this was the best team we played this year, the way they played tonight.”
The Colonials led from start to finish, but didn’t start putting Duquesne (4-14, 0-7 A-10) away until late in the first half. Leading 36-28 with a little more than six minutes left before halftime, the Colonials rattled off 12 unanswered points. They would eventually take a 55-36 lead into intermission behind 22 first-half points by Yegor Mescheriakov
“I felt personally like I owed Duquesne because I had a horrible game at the beginning of January,” said Mescheriakov, referring to his nine-point performance in an 80-54 victory in Pittsburgh Jan. 2.
Duquesne was successful containing Shawnta Rogers offensively in the first half, limiting him to six points, but the 5-4 guard beat the Dukes in other ways.
“We took Shawnta Rogers away (in the first half) because he hurt us in the first game, but he just did other things, he had eight assists in the first half,” Porter said. “He made it happen for them tonight. He got Mescheriakov involved.”
“Shawnta really looks for him (Mescheriakov), which I’m happy about,” Penders said. “It used to be I think he looked more toward Mike (King). I’ve had a lot of talks with Shawnta, about even if Yegor’s passing up shots – sometimes Yegor’s too unselfish. You’ve got to keep going to him.”
GW put the game further out of reach with an 8-0 run to start the second half and would hold the Dukes to just four points over the first 12 minutes of the half. And while Mescheriakov’s scoring tailed off in the second half as he finished with 27 points, Rogers picked up the slack by scoring 18 of his 24 points after halftime, including four three-pointers.
As the Colonials’ lead was pushing 50 points with 7:23 left to go, Penders took out his starters, with Mescheriakov four points short of his career-high of 31 points.
“He’s going to save the 30-pointer for when it counts,” Penders joked after the game.
And after walk-ons Mark Lund, Sam Anyan and Daniel Soares got on the floor with three minutes left to play, 13 of the 15 players suited up for the game had scored.
“The kids all know their roles, they all know what they’re supposed to be doing and tonight was an example of how well we can play,” Penders said. “But I still feel we have a lot of room to get better.”