Foul trouble held last year’s leading GW scorer SirValiant Brown to a career-low nine shots Saturday night, but the Colonials proved in their 94-74 thumping of visiting Texas A&M University that they have the offensive weapons to score without Brown’s presence on the court. GW’s most valuable weapon in the regular season opener at the Smith Center was senior guard Mike King, whose 24 points was one short of his career high. King also finished with a game-high nine rebounds.
It was a team-type win, GW head coach Tom Penders said. I like the distribution in scoring. I like the performances from our freshmen. There were a lot of positives out there for an opening night and we faced adversity. It was tough to lose Val. And quite frankly, if (the officials) are going to whistle games like that all year, people are going to be protesting.
King and the Colonials took advantage of Texas A&M’s 31 fouls and outscored the Aggies 31-15 from the foul line. GW showed tremendous care for the basketball, committing just six turnovers in the game.
King received offensive support from Chris Monroe, who showed no signs of a slight concussion he sustained just a week ago. Monroe scored 21 points (4-of-16) with the majority of his points coming from the line (13), where he banged his way for a career-high 17 free-throw attempts.
They were calling the game tight, so I just took advantage, Monroe said.
In GW’s rotating starting lineup that had Monroe on the bench to begin the game, it only took 1:13 for the sophomore to enter. Monroe replaced Brown after he picked up two early fouls. Brown returned almost midway through the half and scored seven points in less than two minutes. But after drilling a three-pointer, Brown was called for a technical foul – his third foul of the game – for taunting Texas A&M guard Jamaal Gilchrist. Brown was benched with just five playing minutes in the half. He played a career-low 13 minutes overall.
The key stretch in the contest came in the final minutes of the first half. The Colonials and Aggies traded leads six times in the half, but GW found itself ahead 39-37 at the final official’s timeout with just under four minutes remaining. That’s when senior guard Bernard Barrow drilled two three-pointers to ignite a 16-5 run that gave the Colonials a 55-42 halftime advantage. The run saw a Monroe dunk and a Greg Collucci three-pointer with 4.5 seconds left that sent GW’s crowd of 4,289 into a frenzy.
We exploded at the end of the half, Penders said. We did some great things defensively, had a couple transitions. Bernard Barrow stuck a couple, which I thought was good. Bernard waited for his opportunity, kind of lulled them into thinking he wasn’t going to take the three.
Texas A&M never got to within single-digits in the second half, mostly because of King’s defense on the Aggie’s leading scorer last year, Bernard King. Bernard King took only seven shots in the game and was held to a quiet 14 points. Even when King was able to manage an inside lay-up with 13 minutes left and the Colonials leading 65-52, he couldn’t resist expressing his displeasure at the officiating. King was promptly given a technical foul and then proceeded to foul out with more than 10 minutes left in the game.
(Bernard) King got frustrated tonight and that’s something he really can’t afford to do, Texas A&M head coach Melvin Watkins said. But he allowed that to happen. He let the officiating get to his head and forgot that he had to continue to play.
While Bernard King sat on the bench, exchanging words with several GW fans, Mike King played a little give-and-go with Monroe, scoring seven straight points to give the Colonials an 83-63 lead with just over six minutes left.
I just try to come out and play as hard as I can every minute, King said. I was just trying to get the ball.
GW’s victory over the Big 12 Conference Aggies was the team’s 10th-straight season-opening win and was the team’s first game against Texas A&M in 26 years.
The Colonials will look to win their second straight game in the early season as GW hosts Old Dominion University Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Smith Center.