Three-and-a-half weeks ago, Duquesne handed GW its third home loss in a row with a 94-89 smacking at the Smith Center.
Wednesday night at the Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh, GW returned the favor as two teams headed in opposite directions found an outcome they’ve suddenly grown to expect.
By virtue of the 84-76 victory in front of 3,807 fans, the Colonials (9-11, 3-4 Atlantic 10) won their third in a row for the first time all season – while the Dukes lost their fifth in a row (third in a row at home) to further sour an A-10 season that saw the Dukes open a surprising 2-0.
Much of the trouble lately for the Dukes (8-12, 3-6 A-10) stemmed from an inability to start games well, and Wednesday was no different as the Dukes committed eight early turnovers and allowed freshman Chris Monroe to score 14 first-half points. The Colonials led 34-21 with four minutes left in the first half.
Duquesne then switched to a zone defense that stopped the Colonials’ running and allowed the Dukes to score 12 unanswered points, leaving GW with a 34-33 halftime lead. Still, it was an improvement over the 59 first-half points GW had allowed to the Dukes Jan. 8.
Monroe struggled with foul trouble the rest of the game, but freshman guard SirValiant Brown and sophomore forward Jason Smith, who made his second straight start, more than picked up the slack.
Duquesne went to the free-throw line moments into the second half and tied it at 34 but could not make both shots to take the lead. Brown then put GW back on top with a long three-pointer. In the midst of the ensuing 16-4 run, Brown added two more long three-pointers and GW led 50-38 and were hardly threatened again. When the game got tight, and GW led only 52-48, Smith drained a long three as GW had an offensive answer for every Duquesne run.
In the last minute of the game, the margin tightened from 12 to six as GW missed six of seven free throws until Brown and senior Mark Lund closed out the Colonials’ scoring with four free throws in the last 13 seconds.
When the game was over, Smith had scored 14 in the second and 18 overall while Brown had added 27 in the second and 36 overall, tying the record for an opposing player at the 11-year-old Palumbo Center.
Brown also set the Palumbo opponent’s records for field-goal attempts and makes. Together, Brown and Smith scored 41 of GW’s 50 second-half points.
Brown continued his recent hot shooting and fired at a 50 percent clip for the first time all year, going 12-for-24 and 5-of-7 from three-point range. He also shot 7-of-9 from the line and grabbed six rebounds.
Smith added team highs in rebounds and blocks, with nine and four, respectively.
Junior point guard Bernard Barrow had his best game in assists, as he tied Shawnta Rogers’ Palumbo Center record for all players with 13.
By virtue of 20 offensive rebounds, the Dukes fired 77 shots to GW’s 63 but connected on three fewer. Duquesne’s leading scorer, sophomore swingman Wayne Smith, was held to four first-half points and a quiet 15 overall before fouling out in the last minute.
With an average of 25.3, Brown again leads the nation in scoring. With 505 points in 20 games, he is already setting his sights on the GW single-season scoring record of 723 points in a year, set by Bob Tallent in 1968-’69. Joe Holup (’56) holds the GW career record with 2,226 points.
The game marked GW’s first A-10 road win and only the second win overall (Clemson University, Dec. 22). GW has now won six straight at Palumbo. The Dukes have not swept GW in a season since 1990.
After starting 0-4 in the A-10, the Colonials will bring their three-game winning streak to the Smith Center Saturday for a match-up with Xavier.
Two years ago at the Smith Center, the Colonials beat then-No. 18 Xavier 78-73 in overtime. The two teams will be meeting Saturday for the first time since last season’s 77-74 GW victory on Shawnta Rogers’ three-pointer at the buzzer. The up-and-down Musketeers are coming off a 65-64 overtime victory at home Wednesday vs. Dayton.