In the closing seconds of GW’s victory over LaSalle, with the game’s outcome no longer in doubt, junior transfer Attila Cosby raised his hands to the ceiling of the Smith Center and mouthed, “Yes, yes, finally.”
Cosby’s elation sums up how the GW men’s basketball team, coaches and fans felt after the Colonials won their first Atlantic 10 game of the season and only their second contest during a tough winter break.
But the Colonials (7-9) struggled to put up similar performances in previous losses to the University of Tennessee, the University of Detroit-Mercy, the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Massachusetts and St. Joseph’s
GW’s 2-5 winter break included a post-game scuffle with Tennessee and a seventh place finish in the Rainbow Classic and a poor second half at UMass. One bright spot included the addition of 6-9 forward Cosby to the active roster.
In his seven games since becoming eligible to play, Cosby averaged more than 11 points and pulled down almost 10 rebounds a game. He has altered opponents shots and been a strong force for the Colonials underneath the basket.
SirValiant Brown, who shot 30-for-99 during the seven-game stretch and did not start against La Salle, will most likely come off the bench when the Colonials host Xavier Tuesday at 8 p.m.
GW 76, LaSalle 54
Saturday, Jan. 13
Led by Mike King and Chris Monroe, GW passed and defended its way to its first A-10 victory with a 76-54 home win over La Salle.
King and Monroe each had eight assists, contributing to the team’s total of 23 assists – and each played glove-like defense that helped limit the Explorers to only 19 second-half points and just six in the game’s final 13:21.
“The most improved defensive player on this basketball team is Chris Monroe,” Penders said. “Between he and Mike (King), that gives us two physical kids who can play defense.”
In addition to his career-high in assists, Monroe scored a game-high 22 points, including 4-of-7 from behind the arc. King finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.
When SirValiant Brown entered the game for the first time at the 8:14 mark of the first half, Brown subbed for Bernard Barrow at the point guard position, instead of playing his usual role of shooting guard. Penders said afterward that he did not start Brown because the guard had not been playing well.
“We’ve been working real hard with (Brown) in practice on being a point guard,” Penders said. “If Mike King is playing really well and staying out of foul trouble, we don’t need Val to play as much at the two. Val’s role may be changing.”
In his 23 minutes of action, Brown had no turnovers, did not force any bad shots and held Explorers point guard Julian Blanks to a scoreless performance.
St. Joseph’s 76, GW 71
Wednesday, Jan. 10
Midway through the second half of Wednesday’s match-up with St. Joseph’s, Brown commented, “We’re not going to let this one go this time.” But that proved to be wishful thinking as GW fell short 76-71. The loss at the Smith Center was the fifth time in six games the Colonials lost after leading with less than 10 minutes remaining.
“It’s consistently inconsistent,” Penders said. “It’s not one area you can point to. There are a lot of little things and it changes from game to game.”
The Colonials seemed to struggle most down the stretch and could not contain St. Joseph’s (12-3, 3-0) offense. St. Joe’s Marvin O’Connor had a monster night from behind the arc going 6-for-12 with a career-high 34 points.
The Colonials were unable to get their offense going. Shooting slumps for both Brown and Monroe continued as they combined for only 18 points on 6-of-26 shooting.
Mike King had a near-perfect shooting night for the Colonials, finishing with 17 points (7-for-8).
Attila Cosby, playing in his first game at the Smith Center, hustled his way to a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Massachusetts 76, GW 60
Saturday, Jan. 6
AMHERST, Mass. – Despite a GW halftime lead over Massachusetts in the Colonials’ A-10 opener, the Minutemen outscored GW by 28 points in the second half to climb to a 76-60 victory at the Mullins Center.
“The things that we were good at in the first half, we were bad at in the second half,” Penders said about the 28-point turnaround. “UMass was an entirely different team in the second half. We weren’t. We were a different team in the other direction.”
Led by hot shooting from Cosby and Brown, GW could do no wrong in the first half. Brown connected on four of his first five shots and Cosby put on an offensive display scoring 12 points on an array of foul-line jumpers and finger-roll lay-ups.
But nine minutes into the second half, the tide had turned and UMass (3-9, 1-0) led 48-42 after an overwhelming 26-5 run.
Monty Mack scored 17 of his game-high 28 points in the second half while Kitwana Ryhmer grabbed seven of his game-high 16 rebounds.
Cosby, who was treated for back spasms during halftime, led the Colonials with 19 points and nine rebounds while Brown, who finished with 16 points, connected in just one of his final 10 shots (5-of-15 overall).
Charlotte 84, GW 73
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – GW opened the new year with its sixth loss in seven games, falling to the UNC-Charlotte 84-73 at the Halton Arena.
Brown scored 20 points (8-for-17), including four three-pointers. Cosby was the reason why the Colonials stuck with the 49ers. Cosby, who finished with seven points and 10 rebounds, slowed Charlotte’s Rodney White (25 points) in the second half forcing him away from the basket. White scored only eight points on 2-of-7 from the floor in the second half.
The Colonials trailed 68-55 with 7:17 to play, but outscored the 49ers 14-0 to regain the lead at 69-68 three minutes later. During this span Cosby had a follow-up dunk, a steal and, most importantly, altered four Charlotte shot attempts.
“He’s coming along,” Penders said. “He’s not confident in his offense yet, but defensively and on the boards, he’s given us a lot. He gives us a presence inside that we have not had before. I like the potential of the ball club now with him out there.”
The 49ers finished the game on a 16-4 run to find victory. Cam Stephens ended with 14 points and 10 rebounds for Charlotte.
GW 64, Manhattan 59
Saturday, Dec. 30
Monroe scored 20 points as GW snapped a five-game losing streak to
finish in seventh place at the three-day Rainbow Classic with a 64-59 win over Manhattan College at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. Tennessee won the Classic defeating Hawaii 69-58.
GW led the entire game and by double digits for most of the second half before the Jaspers (3-7) scored five points in the closing seconds of the game to make the margin respectable.
Cosby put the Colonials ahead 60-46 on a spin move and lay-up with 4:16 to play. He finished with 10 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and three blocks to help the Colonials overcome 24 turnovers. SirValiant Brown added 19 points on 7-of-18 from the floor.
Durelle Brown led the Jaspers with 17 points while Bruce Seals and Dave Holmes each scored 16.
Detroit-Mercy 63, GW 50
Friday, Dec. 29
The Colonials dropped their fifth consecutive game to Detroit-Mercy 63-50 in the second round of the Rainbow Classic. In a game that followed a near brawl against Tennessee from the night before, GW shot only 29 percent and Brown, who had been averaging 20.7 points before to the Rainbow Classic, went 1-for-12 from the field.
The game was close until late in the second half, when Detroit (9-4) went on a 9-2 run.
Chris Monroe – the only bright spot for GW in sunny Hawaii – scored 17 points, while Cosby was limited to six points on 3-of-11 from the field in his second appearance for the Colonials.
Tennessee 91, GW 82
Thursday, Dec. 28
Coming off a 17-day layoff, the Colonials were on the losing end of a high-tempered and foul-plagued contest against then-No. 6 Tennessee in front of 7,265 fans in the opening round of the Rainbow Classic. GW fell 91-82.
The game was the much-anticipated debut of 6-9 junior transfer Atilla Cosby. Penders had said he thought Cosby could help GW play with any team in the country.
GW stayed with Tennessee for the entire game, overcoming a 49-46 halftime deficit with a 14-0 run to grab a 64-57 lead on two of Monroe’s game high 27 points. Tennessee countered the GW spurt with a 13-0 run to regain the lead 70-64 with 7:54 to play.
Ultimately, GW could not overcome severe foul trouble. GW kept sending Volunteer players to the line. Tennessee scored 45 points on foul shots.
“Our kids scrapped,” Penders said. “But we didn’t play as well as we’re capable of playing. We hung in there and had a chance to win the game, but it just didn’t go our way.”
GW trailed by only four points after freshman Greg Collucci nailed a three-pointer with minutes left. GW was losing 85-81. Two Ron Slay free throws and an ensuing miss from Brown sealed the win for the Volunteers. The Vols closed the game with 23-of-27 free-throw shooting.
The game’s physical play reached its peak when Monroe was called for a technical foul when he knocked Tennessee’s Tony Harris out of bounds while going for a steal. A few minutes before, Brown and Tennessee’s Charles Hathaway were charged with double technical fouls. The intensity carried over after the game and led to a near post-game brawl in the arena’s hospitality area.
“They were all supposed to eat in the hospitality room,” said Tennessee coach Jerry Green, according to The Washington Post. “It was a good idea at first, but maybe it wasn’t such a good idea – especially not after when two teams just got through beating up on each other.”