Only about a thousand students braved the blizzard outside the Smith Center Sunday to see the GW men’s basketball team play Richmond, but those that made it soon found they were in for a treat. In a rare blowout in GW’s favor, the Colonials cruised to a 64-50 win to snap a three-game skid.
The Colonials (9-13, 3-8 Atlantic 10) have had trouble all season closing out games, but after building an 18-point lead early in the second half, GW never let Richmond (12-10, 6-5 A-10) get closer than 12.
“This was our best defensive game of the entire year,” GW head coach Karl Hobbs said. “One of the things I was proud of was that when we got the lead, we continued to play defense.”
That defense had Richmond shooting nearly as cold as the weather outside. The Spiders shot just 33 percent from the floor and only 22 percent from beyond the arc. They also shot just 10-for-21 from the free throw line.
Richmond started the season strong with wins over two ranked teams (Stanford and Xavier) but have now lost four straight and have slipped to third place in the A-10 West. GW remains in fifth place.
“Our offensive woes continue,” Richmond head coach Jerry Wainwright said, “and GW was opportunistic with our mistakes.”
Throughout the game, Richmond misses led quickly to GW baskets as the Colonials ran the floor.
“That’s our offense,” senior Chris Monroe said. “We get stops and transition baskets. Guys were running the floor with me and I had guys open a couple of times.”
It was Monroe, however, who often finished the fast break, leading GW with 14 points despite six turnovers. Sophomore T.J. Thompson added 10 points and six assists but had five turnovers himself. GW had 16 turnovers as a team, leading to 17 Richmond points.
Leading 24-22 with four minutes left in the first half, the Colonials went on a 9-2 run featuring two breakaways that culminated with Monroe baskets.
The first started when Thompson got a rebound and found Monroe in stride with a long pass that led to an uncontested dunk.
With less than 10 seconds left in the half, freshman Omar Williams grabbed a rebound and led a fast break that ended in a Monroe lay-up with one second remaining, giving GW a 33-24 lead heading into the locker room.
The second half began with more of the same for GW. The Colonials started the half with a 10-1 run that increased their lead to 18. Things went especially badly for Richmond junior Tony Dobbins during the stretch. After making a steal, the Spiders’ leading scorer beat three GW players down court for what appeared to be an uncontested dunk. The rim rejected Dobbins, however, and the GW faithful erupted. Minutes later, he missed a transition lay-up.
Dobbins averages nearly 13 points per game but only managed six against GW on 2-for-9 shooting. The other member of Richmond’s backcourt, Jeff Myers, also struggled. Despite averaging nearly 12 points per game, Myers had just three points on 1-for-8 shooting.
While the Colonials outplayed Richmond in the backcourt, they were just as successful around the basket, outscoring Richmond 30-14 in the paint. Freshman Pops Mensah-Bonsu had nine points and nine rebounds and classmate Mike Hall added nine points and eight rebounds. The Colonials shot 44 percent for the game and out-rebounded Richmond 39-33.
“The thing I’ve learned this year is you take it one game at a time,” Hobbs said. “Today, I thought we displayed 40 minutes of maturity defensively.”
Hobbs also said his team will need a big road win at Duquesne Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., when the Colonials will aim for their first conference road win this season.