Perhaps one day the GW men’s basketball team will play a game with its full complement of guards.
But despite the long-awaited return of junior guard Mike King, the Colonials went back to square one Wednesday night when freshman guard Chris Monroe was ejected five minutes in, and the remaining shooting guards – King and freshman SirValiant Brown – spent too much time on the bench with foul trouble to help GW overcome a sizzling St. Joseph’s squad that hit 14 of 24 three-point attempts.
The Colonials dropped to 6-10 (0-3 Atlantic 10), producing in only mid-January the first 10-loss season for the Colonials since the 1996-97 season and giving GW its first 0-3 A-10 start since the 1992-93 season. In addition, the Colonials gave up 100 points for only the seventh time since 1978, and for only the fourth time in two decades of Atlantic 10 play. St. Joe’s had never scored more than 82 points against the Colonials, and had not scored 100 against anyone since 1992.
From the start, it was an offensive game, which played both to GW’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness. With 14:52 left in the first half, GW held an 11-8 lead in front of the 3,012 fans at the intimate Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse in Philadelphia. Then, Monroe got entangled with sophomore center Damian Reid of St. Joseph’s. Monroe has been involved in several on-court altercations this season. However, this was easily the most severe, and it ended with both players being ejected.
This brought King into the game for the first time, and he quickly picked up two fouls. Meanwhile, the Colonials and the Hawks traded buckets until GW held its last tie at 25-25. With eight minutes left in the first half, a hot SirValiant Brown, who had 12 points in the first half, picked up his third foul, soon went to the bench and never was a factor again, finishing with 18.
With three-and-a-half minutes left in the first half, St. Joe’s broke open a tight 37-36 game with a 10-0 run over the next 90 seconds to take a 47-36 lead. Junior guard Bernard Barrow (13 points in the first half, 15 overall) then hit a three and sparked a GW run that closed the gap to 47-43 at the half.
In the first half, St. Joe’s hit eight of 14 three-pointers, while GW made only three of 13.
The second half saw Brown and Barrow fade offensively, but other players took turns stepping up their games and produced GW’s most balanced offensive attack in recent memory. In the first 10 minutes, St. Joe’s extended its lead, but GW kept it close as junior forward Antxon Iturbe scored seven of GW’s first 16 points. As his scoring ended, sophomore forward Jason Smith stepped to the plate with a career game, scoring 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting (including a 2-for-3 performance from three-point range for a player who had never even attempted a three in a game before). He also added nine rebounds (five offensive) and two blocks, but only shot 3-of-7 from the free-throw line.
With St. Joe’s up 77-67, King picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench, but Smith immediately made a bucket and drew the foul (but missed the free throw), then buried a three to fuel a run that drew GW within five at 79-74 with eight minutes left. A putback by freshman Arthur Andrews kept GW close at 81-76 with seven minutes left, and Jason Smith recorded his second block to keep the momentum in GW’s favor as King returned to the game.
But St. Joe’s was not rattled, and began to pull away, building an 88-78 advantage by hitting their 13th three of the night with four minutes remaining. When GW closed the gap to 88-80, St. Joe’s final dagger came when a missed free throw was rebounded and converted into St. Joe’s last three-pointer. GW could not get within nine for the remainder of the night, while Brown and King both fouled out in the last two minutes.
Sophomore guard Marvin O’Connor led St. Joe’s with 24 points, including four three-pointers. St. Joe’s guards outshot GW’s guards 19-of-36 to 18-of-47.
GW shot 43.8 percent overall, while St. Joe’s shot 53.4 percent. GW has now given up 94, 82 and 102 points in three A-10 contests.
The Colonials now go to Dayton for a game Saturday at 2 p.m. The Flyers have defeated the University of New Mexico, the University of Kentucky and Xavier to go to 12-3, already better than last year’s 11-17 mark. The Colonials will be trying to avoid their first 0-4 A-10 start since the 1989-90 season.
– Athletic Director Jack Kvancz said Wednesday that Patrick Ngongba has no shot at getting this year of eligibility back under the medical hardship rule, as he played in over 20 percent of GW’s games this year.
Ngongba’s only shot at more eligibility after this year, which he will now miss after having surgery on his shooting hand, will be if he can meet the requirements of his partial qualifier situation. His status will be resolved when he finishes his work at the end of the semester.
The University will, after this season, petition the NCAA to get Jason Smith an extra year of eligibility to make up for the games he missed last year after suffering a hernia.
– Kvancz said that for next year’s schedule, GW is already committed to go to the University of South Florida, and a home-and-home series with the University of Texas A&M is trying to be arranged. There is also an effort underway to revive the Red Auerbach Classic, which opened the season from 1992 through 1998.
– Kvancz also confirmed that in the wake of Virginia Tech’s imminent departure from the A-10, the conference will drop divisions next year, which will mean that the 11 remaining teams will still play 16 games, but not against all of the teams in the conference. Kvancz said that the league will iron out the schedule at the spring meeting in May.
Kvancz, who was once against adding a 12th team unless it was a school that would raise the league’s profile considerably (such as DePaul University), is now ready and eager to take any good school so that divisions can be restored. Kvancz said that there’s probably eight or 10 candidates but not one who has jumped up. He added that if the league waits much longer, it will be at least two more full seasons until a 12th school could join league play.