The Colonials stormed back and erased a 12-point halftime deficit to beat Providence College 83-77 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Saturday. The win, the Colonials’ third in which they trailed by 12 points or more at the break, moved GW to 7-3, its best start in five seasons.
Chris Monroe led all scorers with 23 points but fouled out, rendering him useless when Providence staged its own comeback with two three-pointers, a steal and a dunk with about two minutes remaining.
Providence’s Rob Sanders hit a three-pointer with just under two minutes remaining, cutting the Colonials lead 77-70. After a pair of Colonials free throws, another three-pointer for the Friars cut the Colonials lead to six with a minute to go.
A Greg Collucci turnover and foul led to two Providence free throws to cut the lead to four, 79-75 with 50 seconds remaining. A Friars steal and dunk by Ryan Gomes on the ensuing inbound pass made it 79-77.
T.J. Thompson was called for a charge on the Colonials next possession, giving the Friars an opportunity to take the lead. Friars’ forward Christopher Anrin, who went 1-for-7 on the day, missed an open three-pointer, ending Providence’s chances.
The win represents a surprisingly successful non-conference performance for the Colonials, who have just one more game before the Atlantic 10 season begins. Monroe has been GW’s clutch player, along with Collucci and freshman Tamal Forchion.
Saturday’s victory makes the Colonials 5-0 this season in games decided by six points or less. GW has won three in a row and six of its last seven games. During the three-game winning streak, the Colonials have beaten two teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season: Princeton and Providence.
Darnell Miller provided depth off the bench for GW, which only used seven players in 40 minutes. Miller hit 10-of-12 free throws, including GW’s final two points, and scored a career-high 16 points.
Jaason Smith added a season-high 19 points, 8 rebounds and a career-high 6 blocked shots.
Collucci built on seven three-pointers in a win last week by hitting 5-of-12 against Providence. He ended the afternoon with 20 points. He scored eight straight points for the Colonials cutting their deficit by four points, 50-46, midway through the second half.
Monroe hit a basket moments later while driving the lane. He was fouled on the play and made the ensuing free throws, cutting the lead to 51-49.
GW took its first lead of the second half, 55-54, with just under nine minutes remaining when Monroe was fouled while making a basket. That started a 22-9 run for his team, putting them ahead 74-63 with four minutes to go. That’s when Providence head coach Tim Welsh was ejected for arguing a shot clock violation that may have sparked the comeback for the Friars.
Ryan Gomes led Providence with 16 points and 8 rebounds.
This was the second time in three games that the Colonials held off a late run by their opponent. GW fended off the Princeton University Tigers late in the consolation game of the BB&T Classic last week.
And it was the second time in as many games that the Colonials came back from 13 points down. Against Old Dominion Wednesday, GW trailed 26-13, but won 68-64.