The GW men’s basketball team came out with intense defense and strong offensive execution at the start of the first half against Massachusetts – the difference in the Colonials’ 78-72 win Wednesday night at the Smith Center.
In front of a crowd of 5,292 and a raucous student section, GW (17-6, 11-2 Atlantic 10) jumped out to a 24-5 lead in the game’s first eight minutes and held off the Minutemen.
Mike King led GW with 22 points, and Yegor Mescheriakov added 20 points and 12 rebounds. The Colonials survived a bad shooting night by Shawnta Rogers, who hit just four of his 16 shots from the field and one three-pointer.
GW withstood a strong comeback by UMass (11-14, 7-6 A-10) in the second half in which the Minutemen cut the Colonials’ lead to five on three different occasions. UMass trimmed a 10-point GW lead to five at 71-66 with 1:47 to play, but the Colonials hit their next four free throws to ice the victory.
Free throws played a big role in the game, as the two teams combined for 86 shots from the foul line. The Colonials hit 29 of their 45 attempts but missed 15 of 35 in the second half, including several in the final minutes.
“I thought UMass’ strategy once we got ahead big was to just start playing real physical and put us on the line,” GW head coach Tom Penders said. “And usually we make people really pay for that.”
The Colonials have won three straight games and 12 of their last 14. GW travels to Philadelphia Saturday to take on Temple, the A-10 East Division leader, at 2 p.m.