St. Bonaventure’s four-game winning streak came to a crashing halt Saturday evening as the GW men’s basketball team defeated the visiting Bonnies 76-68. In the process, the Colonials began a modest two-game winning streak. The last time GW won two straight was back in November, when the Colonials defeated Howard and Boston universities. The victory was the Colonials’ 10th straight win over the Bonnies at the Smith Center. GW (9-11, 3-4 Atlantic 10) coupled solid defense with great free-throw shooting to down their conference foes (12-6, 3-3 A-10).
“We played stifling defense for 40 minutes,” GW head coach Tom Penders said.
For the first time in eight games, and for the first time in A-10 conference play this season, the Colonials outscored their opponents from the foul line. The Colonials shot 27-for-30 in the game, led by Chris Monroe (15-for-16). The Bonnies were 19-for-25 from the line.
“They went to the free throw line and made their shots,” St. Bonaventure head coach Jim Baron said. “That is a big part of it. As you’re trying to fight back, they are continuing to increase their lead.”
The Colonials opened up the second half by going on an 8-0 run over the first 4:48 of the period, which effectively took the Bonnies out of game. Despite a couple St. Bonaventure runs, GW never allowed their opponents to get within four. Sophomore SirValiant Brown scored twice in the eight-point stretch for the Colonials and finished the game with 19 points on 6-of-16 shooting.
“Our defense was outstanding (at the start of the second half),” Penders said. “It was smothering. It was perfect.”
The Bonnies missed four straight shots and turned the ball over three times. The missed shots for the Bonnies epitomized their shooting woes, as they shot under 35 percent from the field for the game (22-for-63).
Baron said he believed that turnovers made the difference during the early second half stretch.
“We turned the ball over a couple of times, and they converted on it,” Baron said. “We said going in that (GW) is going to make runs. The key is you have to score too.”
From there on, the Bonnies chipped away at the Colonials’ lead, moving to within four points with 9:08 remaining in the game when Marques Green hit a lay-up to cap a St. Bonaventure 8-0 run.
The Colonials responded by scoring seven of the next nine points to increase their lead back to nine with 7:20 remaining. That stretch was capped off by an acrobatic shot in the lane by Brown, who was fouled on the play. He then sunk the free throw.
Again the Bonnies cut the GW lead to five with 3:09 remaining, but again the Colonials had the answer, increasing the lead to eight after sophomore Chris Monroe hit two free throws and junior Albert Roma added two more.
The first half saw the Bonnies jump out to an early 8-2 lead in the first three minutes, which would be their largest lead of the game. The Colonials took their first lead of the game on a three-pointer by Monroe (13-10) with 14:25 remaining in the first half.
It wasn’t until the final two minutes of the half that the Colonials opened a lead that they would never give up. The Colonials took the 31-29 lead on a jumper made by senior Antxon Iturbe, which started a 7-1 run that GW used to take a 36-30 into the locker room.
Penders credited his team’s strong effort in all aspects of the game, especially rebounding, defense and free throw shooting.
“I just had to decide who to put in when and where,” Penders said.
Monroe led the Colonials in scoring with 28 points (6-for-11) tying his career high, which he set against Duquesne last Tuesday. Brown added 19 for the Colonials while Mike King led the team with seven rebounds.
Junior J.R. Bremmer scored 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting to lead the Bonnies while Peter Van Paassen added 15.
The Colonials will look to add to their modest two-game winning streak and move to an even 4-4 in A-10 play Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when they travel to Xavier. The game will be televised on espn2.