GW stumbles at finish line, falls to Xavier

Things just haven’t gone the right way for the GW men’s basketball team this season. And the Colonials’ eight-point overtime loss Saturday night to Xavier was no exception.

With less than seven seconds remaining in what became yet another Atlantic 10 classic between GW and Xavier, SirValiant Brown dribbled down the court, stepped just inside the three-point line and nailed what would have been his sixth field goal of the game. It would have also given the visiting Colonials a 64-63 lead with 7.7 seconds remaining in front of 10,250 fans at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati. But, seconds before Brown took the go-ahead jumper, the whistle blew and play was stopped. GW coach Tom Penders had called a timeout when Brown crossed half-court.

After the timeout, down 63-62, GW’s Patrick Ngongba was fouled with one second left on a desperation shot attempt at the top of the key. Ngongba picked up a loose ball on the perimeter after Brown lost it on the floor. After coming up short on the first free throw, Ngongba drained the second shot to send the game into overtime.

But that was the final point GW (9-12, 3-5 A-10) would score against Xavier (17-3, 8-1 A-10) as the host Musketeers shutout the Colonials in the five-minute extra period to take the game 71-63. Neither team scored a basket in overtime, but Xavier hit 8-of-10 free throws to secure the win.

Free throws played a major factor in the two games between the teams this season. The Colonials were outscored 28-10 from the line, managing just 10-for-21 from the stripe. But GW was able to stay close as the Musketeers missed 20 of 48 attempts. At the Smith Center Jan. 16, Xavier outscored GW 31-7 from the line en route to a 76-74 win.

The Colonials did not help themselves on the offensive end, shooting a dismal 30 percent from the floor (24-for-80). That included GW getting off to a 0-for-13 start to begin the espn2-televised game. Poor GW shooting enabled the Musketeers to jump out to an early 9-1 advantage.

GW’s three-guard front of Brown, Chris Monroe and Bernard Barrow kept GW close with seven steals and 13 forced turnovers in the first half. Xavier led 29-28 at the break. But the three Colonial guards shot a combined 9-for-44 (20 percent) from the floor for the game. Brown went 5-for-21, Monroe 3-for-12 and Barrow shot just 1-for-11 including a 1-for-9 day from behind the arc.

David West was Xavier’s star once again against GW, scoring a game-high 26 points and pulling down 21 rebounds in 43 minutes. The Xavier center became the first Musketeers player to record a double-double of more than 20 points and rebounds since 1990. West scored a lay-up inside with 10 seconds remaining to give the Musketeers the one-point advantage before the timeout call.

GW and Xavier were tied five times in the first half, and the Colonials sent the game to overtime despite falling behind 45-36 in the second half. But the Muskeeteers went nearly six minutes without a field goal, enabling the Colonials to go on a 17-3 run and take a 52-48 lead with less than nine minutes to play.

The Colonials entered Saturday night on their first two-game winning streak since late November. GW has lost five straight games at Xavier and travels to Temple Thursday night, where the Colonials have not won since 1995. GW has faced Temple only twice in Philadelphia since 1995 because of the old A-10 schedule format that saw the teams alternate sites each year. Under the new “home-and-home” format, all A-10 squads play each other twice each season, at home and on the road.

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