GW wins free-throw battle

Entering Saturday’s game against St. Bonaventure, GW ranked fourth in the Atlantic 10 in free-throw percentage. But in their past seven contests, the Colonials had been outscored by their opponents from the line. The team went 2-5 in that stretch.

GW broke that streak in its 76-68 win over the Bonnies Saturday, outscoring St. Bonaventure at the line. GW shot 27-for-30 from the charity stripe, while St. Bonaventure shot 19-for-25.

Chris Monroe, who matched his career high in points with 28, hit 15-of-16 from the line. GW established an inside game and attacked the basket often, which resulted in free throws. St. Bonaventure head coach Jim Baron said free throws made the difference for GW.

“They only missed three free throws the whole game and that just kept them ahead,” Baron said. “As we were trying to come back they just made their free throws.”

In the first half GW got to the free throw line only three times but in the second half they went 27 times.

“They just called a tighter second half,” GW head coach Tom Penders said. “We were trying to attack the basket in the first half, too. I thought the first half was called beautifully.”

Penders has been watchful of officials calls, especially after visiting Xavier earned 50 foul shots to GW’s eight in the Jan. 16 game at the Smith Center. The Musketeers outscored the Colonials 31-7 from the line, but only won the game by two points.

“In 13 non-league games we had eight more free throws than our opponents,” Penders said. “In our first six conference games we shot 108 fewer than our opponent and we’re not doing anything differently. And those kind of stats just blow my mind.”

The last time the Colonials got to the free throw line 30 times was Dec. 30 in GW’s 64-59 win over Manhattan College in Hawaii. It was also the last time GW outscored their opponent from the line.

Penders said he hopes Saturday’s game was the beginning of more calls going in GW’s favor.

“Sometimes it’s the breaks of the whistle and so you go through streaks where you’re not getting any whistles, and maybe that’s it,” Penders said. “Maybe the officials will start respecting or have started to respect Val (Brown) and Chris (Monroe) a little bit more.”

The Colonials next game will be Feb. 3 against Xavier as the team will look to avenge their earlier loss. And if the Colonials expect to win at Xavier, where they have lost four straight, GW will need to get to the line and hit its foul shots.

“If we shoot 50 free throws and they shoot eight, I’ll guarantee we’ll win by more than two,” Penders said.

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