Five players scored in double figures to rally the Colonials within three points of Rhode Island, but the GW men’s basketball team fell just short of a comeback as the Rams held on to win 77-72 in Kingston, R.I., Saturday night.
The loss was GW’s second straight, dropping the Colonials two games behind fourth place LaSalle in the Atlantic 10 West. GW, which is currently in fifth place, will need to finish in the top four to gain home-court advantage in the first round of the A-10 Tournament in March.
Two free throws by freshman Omar Williams cut GW’s deficit to 72-69 with just under two minutes remaining, but the Colonials could not overcome a 17-point Ram advantage in the second half, fueled by the second-largest home crowd in Rhode Island history (7,076).
GW Head Coach Karl Hobbs said the turning point in the game was when GW forced the Rams into a bad shot with about two minutes remaining in the game but could not come down with the rebound, leading to a second-chance basket for Rhode Island. GW was unable to get any closer than three points the rest of the way.
Senior Chris Monroe led the Colonials (8-12, 2-7 A-10) with 20 points and eight rebounds and sophomore T.J. Thompson added 14.
“I just penetrated a lot and the shots were there,” Thompson said, adding that his team still drew some positives from the loss. “We matured a lot. We were down a lot and we know we can come back.”
Freshman Mike Hall had 12 points and classmate Pops Mensah-Bonsu scored 11. Williams, the A-10’s Rookie of the Week, added 12 for GW and grabbed eight rebounds.
URI’s Brian Woodward led all scorers with 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting, while Lazare Adingono scored 19. Dustin Hellenga added 16 off the bench for Rhode Island (14-6, 6-3 A-10).
The Rams used a 19-6 run to open the second half, taking a 60-43 lead. Hellenga led the charge for Rhode Island, hitting a pair of three pointers during the run. GW clawed its way back into the game and managed to close the lead to three with Williams’ free throws.
But much like last Tuesday’s loss to Xavier, GW’s opponent was able to fend off the pesky Colonials as Rhode Island sunk five free throws in the closing minutes to seal the win.
The teams played a tight first half, with neither team able to gain a large lead. The Colonials were up 34-31 with just over two minutes remaining in the first half when the Rams went on a 10-3 run to close the half, giving Rhode Island the advantage going into the locker room.
The Colonials out-rebounded Rhode Island 34-25 and hit 19-of-21 free throws but were again hurt by turnovers. GW turned the ball over 15 times in the game compared to only 10 turnovers for Rhode Island.
The Colonials are back in action Wednesday as they travel to Dayton, Ohio, to take on the Flyers. Dayton (16-4, 8-1 A-10) beat the Colonials 71-61 in their first meeting of the season Jan. 18 at the Smith Center.
“We have to play physical,” Thompson said of GW’s next game. “We have to come out strong and maintain our focus and we should be OK.”