The Colonials led Massachusetts by as many as eight points in the second half Saturday while senior Chris Monroe became just the second player in GW history to score 2,000 career points, but the GW men’s basketball team still found a way to lose.
GW (6-10, 0-5 Atlantic 10) mustered only one field goal in the final nine minutes, handing the Minutemen (7-11, 1-5 A-10) a 75-70 comeback win and spoiling the excitement of 3,698 in attendance at the Smith Center. The loss was the sixth straight for GW, which has now lost more than five games in a row in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1989-90.
“The game came down to our inability to take care of the basketball,” GW head coach Karl Hobbs said. “And when we needed to get critical stops, we didn’t get them.”
Monroe, the A-10’s co-Player of the Week, led the Colonials with 28 points on 9-for-18 shooting from the field and 9-13 shooting from the free throw line.
“I’m really proud of the way (Monroe) played today,” Hobbs said. “I thought he played with a lot of energy, a lot of heart, and he made shots when he had to.”
Monroe reached 2,000 on a jumper off the glass with 9:49 left in the game, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd minutes later when the milestone was announced during a timeout. Monroe is only the second Colonial to reach 2,000 career points and now needs 223 points to tie the Colonials’ all-time record, set by Joe Holup in 1956.
After the game, Monroe said his achievement was bittersweet.
“It’s good that I got (to 2,000 points),” he said. “It’d have been sweeter if I had a win.”
After Monroe’s milestone basket and with GW’s first conference victory apparently on the way, the Colonials’ offense broke down. GW shot 1-for-10 in that final nine-minute stretch and could not stop Massachusetts from rallying. A lay-up by Gabe Lee with just less than four minutes remaining gave Massachusetts a 67-66 lead that they would hold the rest of the game.
The Colonials were only down 69-67 with 43 seconds left and Massachusetts in possession. But Hobbs elected to foul, allowing Anthony Anderson to sink two free throws that sealed the game for the Minutemen.
UMass hit its final six free throws down the stretch to hold off the Colonials, who scored just five points in the last nine minutes of the game. “I thought that down the stretch, we just didn’t execute,” Hobbs said. “More importantly, we just had some critical, critical turnovers.”
Freshman Michael Lasme had a career-high 24 points to lead Massachusetts, while Lee added 15 points and nine rebounds.
“The kid Lasme, who hasn’t really put up numbers for them, comes in and gives them 24,” Hobbs said. “We’ve got to do a better job of not letting guys that normally don’t get points come in and have a great day against us.”
The teams traded baskets throughout the first half with UMass never leading by more than three and the Colonials never leading by more than four. GW entered the locker room up 41-40.
A dunk by sophomore Tamal Forchion opened up the scoring in the second half, giving GW a 43-40 lead. The teams traded baskets for the next three and a half minutes until GW started to pull away. A Monroe dunk after a Thompson steal with less than 13 minutes remaining in the game gave the Colonials their largest lead of the game, 57-49.
GW failed to capitalize on a 41-34 rebounding advantage, leading to a 27-9 advantage in second chance points. Hobbs said he was happy with efforts of Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Mike Hall, who combined for 23 points and 17 rebounds.
“I thought both guys worked extremely hard, particularly on the offensive glass,” he said. “And that’s really encouraging to see.”
GW shot 38 percent from the field during the game (25-for-66), including 13 percent from behind the three-point line (2-for-16). The Minutemen hit 49 percent of their shots.
Mensah-Bonsu said the team will have to work to regain its confidence after the loss.
“After a loss, your confidence is always down,” he said. “But like coach says, we just have to keep our heads up, bounce back and be a little more persistent, and think about the next game.”
That next game is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., when GW hosts Saint Joseph’s at the Smith Center.