Penders rides King and Brown to 500th win in home opener

The GW men’s basketball season already has been predictably unpredictable.

After earning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors after the first two games in the Top of the World Classic, freshman SirValiant Brown dropped in 31 points in GW’s heartbreaking 93-92 loss to the University of Houston in the third-place game Nov. 21.

GW returned to the continental 48 and defended its now 14-game home winning streak by upsetting the University of South Florida Saturday night behind junior Mike King’s 20 points (on 7-of-11 shooting), eight rebounds, six steals and four assists. Brown, meanwhile, added 33 points and was again named A-10 Rookie of the Week. The Colonials (2-3) took to the road Tuesday and scored only 28 points in the first half en route to a disappointing 95-77 loss, despite another 33-point explosion from Brown.

Brown’s 26.8 points per game average leads the A-10 and is fourth in the country, but first among players who have played more than two games.

For his part, Coach Tom Penders notched his 500th career victory Saturday night on his third try, as he maintained his place as the 16th winningest active coach. GW women’s coach Joe McKeown holds that same distinction on the women’s side.

The Colonials are under .500 after five games for the first time in 11 years (since the 1-27 season in 1988-’89). They have played a difficult early season slate. Seven of the first eight games are away from the Smith Center – the first time since 1964 that GW has opened with such a schedule.

The games get no easier as the Colonials head down the street this weekend for the fifth annual BB&T Classic, being held for the third time at the MCI Center. GW, which faces Seton Hall University Saturday at 1 p.m., won the championship two seasons ago after upsetting Maryland, but the Colonials dropped both games in last year’s tournament (see preview box, p. 21).

Ohio 95, GW 77
Tuesday, Nov. 30

The Colonials faced another stiff challenge from another favored opponent. This time the game was on the road, and the 20-point halftime deficit was too much for GW to overcome.

Ohio University (3-0), playing at the Convo in Athens, Ohio, in front of 5,118 fans, took a 48-28 lead into halftime and never looked back at the Colonials’ lackluster effort. The Bobcats were led by 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting (6-of-7 from behind the arc) from Sanjay Adell. Shaun Stonerook had 16 rebounds for the Bobcats.

Sanjay Adell had one of the best halves of basketball I have ever seen in all my years of coaching, Coach Tom Penders said in a GW Sports Information press release.

GW’s SirValiant Brown scored 33 (23 in the second half) while no other Colonial hit double digits. Point guard Bernard Barrow had seven assists (no other player had an assist) and six steals. Forward Antxon Iturbe led the team with nine rebounds.

GW attempted 21 more shots than the Bobcats but hit three fewer. Ohio, which lost at GW last year 76-65, shot 60.7 percent in the first half and 58.8 percent for the game (12-of-21 on three-pointers).

Freshman Chris Monroe started for Mike King because King had been late for a weightlifting session.

GW 88, South Florida 76
Saturday, Nov. 27

Things had fallen so far so fast that even the boys in Vegas thought that the Bulls of South Florida (0-1) would storm into the Smith Center and beat the Colonials in their home opener. That would have denied Tom Penders his 500th victory and ended GW’s 13-game home winning streak.

For a half, the prognosticators were proven right. After GW ran out to an 18-9 lead 10 minutes into the game, the Bulls, favored by many to win their Conference USA division, went on a 23-3 run in the next five minutes. Despite some runs by the Colonials, South Florida led 41-34 at the half.

SirValiant Brown, who missed his first nine shots after Dorien Brown started for him because he was late to a film session, went for 22 points in the second half. Along with one of Mike King’s best games as a Colonial (20 points on 7-11 shooting, four assists, six steals, and a game-high eight rebounds), GW broke a 46-46 tie with a 33-15 run in the decisive second half. That brought Penders his 500th victory and kept him undefeated as GW’s coach at the Smith Center.

We just looked like we were determined to win the basketball game in the second half, Penders said. I’m very, very pleased to (win 500) at GW. These people believe in me.I hope to get them at least a hundred more.

I think we mentally lost our focus defensively, said USF Coach Seth Greenberg.

Uncharacteristically for GW, USF took nine more shots than the Colonials but was outshot 46 to 38 percent in the game. USF’s 14 steals were one short of the GW record for an opponent.

The physical game, which was marred by extracurricular activity on the court and a brawl in the northwest corner during the second half, saw the Colonials attempt a school record-tying 49 free throws. SirValiant Brown shot 16-of-19 from the line, tying Mike Brown’s Smith Center record for made free throws.

SirValiant Brown scored 33 points on 7-of-22 shooting and attempted a school record-tying 15 three-pointers, converting on three.

He makes a lot of bad shots, Greenberg said.

Senior guard Mark Lund also saw five minutes of action and hit four key free throws down the stretch to set a new career high with four points.

About 4,000 fans saw the Thanksgiving break game. The entire student section was filled with fans from the community.

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