The Colonials earned a win they needed against La Salle Sunday afternoon, given the blowout they were coming off and the challenge they now face. Xavier rolls into town Thursday in what is typically the fiercest game of the season with a history that goes back to Shawnta Rogers’s buzzer-beater four years ago. Nothing was on the line when the teams squared off last year, but this time an early conference lead is on players’ minds.
The win against La Salle was a confidence boost for GW, which four days before had taken an undefeated A-10 record to Dayton and found something of a reality check in an 83-59 loss.
The Colonials went 3-2 over winter break without the benefit of good shooting, instead relying as much as possible on defense and pure stamina. GW welcomed the return of Marquin Chandler with his fresh legs and his 6-foot-7 frame. Chandler has finished an 11-game suspension but now faces the challenge of finding his rhythm without proving a liability to the team.
GW 75, La Salle 72
The Colonials (10-5, 3-1) played most of Sunday’s win without production from center Jaason Smith. But the 6-foot-5 leaping center, undoubtedly Coach Karl Hobbs’s favorite player, pulled down his most important rebound of the season off a Chris Monroe free throw. Smith scored the go-ahead bucket, putting GW up 74-72 with little more than a minute to play.
By no means did that seal the win, but it did make things more difficult for the Explorers, who were receiving sub-par play from Rasual Butler, a top scorer averaging 23 points a game. Instead of going to Butler, who finished with 15 points on 3-of-17, or on an in-bounds pass with two seconds remaining, the ball went to forward Julian Blanks, who was 4-for-7 from long range. But Blanks missed the three-pointer.
“Both teams played with a sense of desperation, a sense of urgency,” Hobbs said after the win.
Marquin Chandler had a breakout game, tying Monroe for the team lead of 20 points. Chandler was dynamic down the stretch, scoring eight points of a10-0 run. Chandler was 8-of-10 from the field, and perfect from three-point range (2-for-2).
Smith finished with nine points and nine rebounds, and his six blocks made the Explorers’ (7-8. 0-3) penetration difficult.
Greg Collucci was playing on a bad ankle that Hobbs said he injured during Saturday’s practice. Collucci nailed one three-pointer in his 15 minutes of action but for the most part did little.
GW shot 45 percent on 27-for-60 shooting but improved from 39 percent in the first half to 52 in the second thanks to Chandler and Monroe
La Salle remains winless in the conference, but were a perfect16-for-16 from the free throw line.
Dayton 83, GW 59
Brooks Hall, Ramod Marshall and Keith Waleskowski combined to score 64 of Dayton’s 83 points en route to the 83-59 victory over the visiting Colonials. Hall set a career high in points, scoring 26, to lead all scorers. Waleskowski added a game-high 13 rebounds to his 18-point performance.
For the second consecutive game, Greg Colluci led the Colonials, scoring 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting.
The Colonials shot a paltry .295 from the field (18-for-61) and were out rebounded by the Flyers 48-34.
GW 74, Duquesne 50
The Colonials held Duquesne, the worst team in the A-10, to just eight second-half field goals, pummeling the Dukes by 24 points in its largest victory this season. All that while shooting just 38 percent.
Collucci led the Colonials with 21 points including five three-pointers. Three other Colonials scored double figures, including Monroe who was just 2-of-10 from the field.
Marquin Chandler, playing his second game after an 11-game suspension, notched 11 points and 11 rebounds in just 21 minutes.
GW 92, St. Bonaventure 86
GW played a four-guard lineup and shot nearly 50 percent from the field en route to a 96-82 home victory against St. Bonaventure Thursday night. The Bonnies, currently third in the A-10 East, feature the second leading scorer in the nation J.R. Bremer, but even he could not counter the performances of Chris Monroe, Jaason Smith and T.J. Thompson.
Monroe led all scorers with 29 and Smith rebounded from a poor outing against Charlotte last week with his best game of the season, totaling 22 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks.
Charlotte 97, GW 87
GW’s three biggest players fouled out in a 97-87 home loss to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte Friday evening, making it impossible for a five-guard lineup to overcome a 15-point second half deficit. The loss ends both GW’s three-game winning streak and its non-conference schedule (7-4).
-Stephen Bernard and Brian Costa contributed to this report.