Monty Mack scored a game-high 24 points to lead visiting Massachusetts to a 64-56 victory over GW, sweeping the regular season series in front of 4,107 fans at the Smith Center. The loss hurts GW’s chances of earning a first-round bye in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The seventh-place Colonials (12-15, 6-8 A-10) find themselves in a three-team battle for a fifth-place bye with Dayton and St. Bonaventure. The Colonials face the Bonnies on the road Wednesday night and finish the regular season with a home game against Temple this weekend.
Saturday’s game was a forgettable one for GW, a game in which the Colonials never led. The five GW starters – Mike King, SirValiant Brown, Bernard Barrow, Antxon Iturbe and Albert Roma – combined for four baskets in the game. Sophomore Chris Monroe led GW’s offense with 22 points off the bench on 7-of-12 shooting. Attila Cosby also came off the bench, recording nine points and 12 rebounds. Brown scored just eight points (1-for-9 from floor), with five coming from the foul line.
“I’d like to give (UMass) a little credit,” GW head coach Tom Penders said. “They played great defense and they really, really made us work for everything. I could sit here and say that was the worst game we ever played, but I believe in giving credit to the other team.”
Coming fresh off a dominating win against Fordham, the Colonials stepped on the court with UMass (13-12, 11-3 A-10) but never showed up. GW made seven baskets (7-for-24, 0-for-8 from three-point range) and scored just 19 points in the first half. It was the team’s worst offensive first half at the Smith Center in 20 years.
Mack shined halfway through the second half when he scored 12 points over a four-and-a-half minute span to increase UMass’ 31-25 lead to 47-35 with 8:15 remaining. Mack nailed two foul-line jumpers, one long-range two-pointer with his foot on the three-point line, and two three-point baskets.
“They had the X-factor in Monty Mack,” Penders said. “His little run there was the difference in the game.”
UMass coach Bruiser Flint said outside shooting made up for poor play in the paint.
“We were trying to go inside but the big guys missed a few layups,” Flint said. “So I said, `You know what, go with the girl that always brings you to the dance.’ I said, `Look, I’m calling your plays, forget about all the other stuff.'”
GW made the contest slightly intriguing when it came to life in the final two minutes and cut an 11-point deficit to six points, 58-52, with 37 seconds to play. Brown and Barrow hit three-pointers in that stretch – their only baskets of the game. But UMass’s Jonathan DePina was solid from the line, making eight consecutive free-throws in the final minute to thwart the GW comeback.
“I always tell them that the last two minutes in the game is point guard time,” Flint said. “You’ve got to control the team and step up and make foul shots. And that’s what (DePina) did.”
The Colonials trailed by as many as 15 points with 7:05 remaining when Jackie Rogers’ dunk gave UMass a 49-34 lead. GW trailed 27-19 at halftime and got to within six points on six different occasions throughout the half, but never came any closer.
Mack scored a game-high 28 points back on Jan. 6 when UMass overcame a 12-point deficit to defeat the Colonials 76-60 in GW’s A-10 opener at the Mullins Center. The game marked the start of GW’s downward slide as the Colonials then lost two of their next three – a five-point game to St. Joseph’s and a two-point contest to Xavier – and have never recovered.