Clutch free-throw shooting preserved a win for the Colonials Wednesday night as they squeaked by Boston University 79-76 at the Smith Center. Led by Chris Monroe and T.J. Thompson, GW overcame a five-point deficit at halftime and outplayed the Terriers for most of the second half.
The Colonials shot 50 percent in the game and scored 20 points from the free-throw line, which was just enough to overcome the outstanding play of Boston standout point guard Matt Turner. Turner scored 24 points in 30 minutes and was supported by small forward Paul Seymour, who scored 21 points off the bench.
Playing against Turner most of the game, freshman T.J. Thompson rose to the occasion with 19 points and 6 assists of his own, while Monroe took over in the second half scoring 17 of his 21 points.
With 1:15 remaining, Seymour tied the game at 76 with a three-pointer. After missing a three-pointer that would have given them the lead, the Terriers fouled Chris Monroe on the rebound. The junior forward came through again by making both penalty free throws.
Boston had another possession but missed another three-pointer and with just 11 seconds remaining put T.J. Thompson at the line. Thompson made one of two free throws to give GW a 79-76 lead.
With yet another chance to tie the game, the Terriers brought the ball down the court as the clock ran down, but GW’s smothering defense prevented a good look at the basket. As the buzzer sounded, Darnell Miller blocked Turner’s last-second heave, and the Smith Center crowd of 2,574 erupted.
The crowd was boisterous and enthusiastic throughout the game, which was the first glimpse of the men at home for students who missed the Auerbach Classic over Thanksgiving Break. After the game Hobbs thanked the students for their support.
Hobbs said Boston, where he formerly served as assistant coach, was the toughest rebounding team his Colonials have played. He attributed the Terriers’ 20 offensive rebounds to their talent in the paint.
GW made up for its lack of size with nine blocks, four of which came from Jaason Smith, who Hobbs said was “tremendous.”
After sloppy play in the opening minutes of the game, the intensity picked up and the game was closely contested for much of the first half. Boston took its biggest lead on a Matt Turner dunk with 2:09 remaining in the half that put them ahead 37-28. But GW battled back in the final minutes of the period, and a pair of free throws from Tamal Forchion with one second left cut Boston’s lead to 39-34 at halftime.
The Colonials received a scare with 6:56 left in the first period when, on a freakish play, Thompson landed awkwardly on his ankle after a missed shot and Forchion fell over him running back on defense. Forchion got up immediately, but Thompson remained on the floor in pain and had to be carried off the court. Thompson returned nearly two minutes later and played the rest of the game, showing no signs of serious injury.
GW Head Coach Karl Hobbs said he sat Monroe for an unusually long time in the first half because of overall ineffectiveness.
“He understands that if he doesn’t play defense and doesn’t rebound, we can’t win,” Hobbs said. Monroe grabbed all six of GW’s rebounds in the second half.
The Colonials (4-2) face the University of Connecticut in the opening round of the BB&T Classic at the MCI Center on Sunday at 3:30.