The game clock read 0:00. His teammates watched from the bench and more than 3,000 fans chanted his name as Chris Monroe stood at the foul line. The senior made his first shot, missed his second, paused to take a few dribbles and sunk the third, ending his career at the Smith Center with a swish and, more importantly, a win.
Saturday’s free throws marked a cinematic end to the Colonials’ 77-61 victory over Fordham and came after referees called the Rams for a foul on Monroe’s three-point heave at the buzzer. When his last shot dropped through the net, the Colonials ran onto the court to congratulate Monroe before following him up into the bleachers to celebrate with students.
“I was just like, ‘I don’t want to let the fans down by missing my free throws,” Monroe said. “After I made the first, I got a little too confident and missed the second, but I finished with the last one.”
The crowd had been chanting Monroe’s name all afternoon, starting when he came out to warm up before the game. About 15 minutes before game time, the half-filled student section began cheering loudly for every shot Monroe made during GW’s pre-game shoot-around.
“The fans were amazing,” Monroe said. “It was just amazing to hear them cheering my name. I think they were standing the whole time.”
The praise continued during the senior day ceremony before the game, when head coach Karl Hobbs and Athletic Director Jack Kvancz honored Monroe, his mother and grandmother with a framed jersey at mid-court.
“I wanted to make sure he finished off his career the right way so he would have great memories of this building,” Hobbs said after the game. “And I thought the students were terrific.”
During the Colonials’ player introductions, freshman Mike Hall and sophomore T.J. Thompson each wore one of Monroe’s No. 4 practice jerseys in his honor.
Once the game started, though, the focus turned to knocking off the Rams, as the Colonials needed the win to clinch the fifth seed in the Atlantic 10 West. Monroe, who typically scores more in the second half, had eight points by halftime and scored another seven before Hobbs removed him from the game with 1:07 left.
Fans gave Monroe another standing ovation as he walked off the court and as he sat down, the crowd began cheering “We want Chris.” Hobbs responded by calling Monroe off the bench and allowing him to play out his final home game, an appropriate finish for someone who has played in all 116 GW games over the past four years.
“I was a little nervous at the end because I wanted to take Chris out so he could get his proper standing ovation, and then the fans wouldn’t let me keep him on the bench,” Hobbs said. “As a coach, I’m getting nervous about him twisting an ankle or something, but you have to listen to (the fans), because sometimes they know more than the coach.”
After sinking two of the last three foul shots, Monroe finished with 17 points in the game, bringing him to within 23 points of GW’s all-time scoring record.
If the Colonials lose Monday night at Massachusetts, the game will be his last in a GW uniform, which leaves the scoring record largely dependent on the Colonials’ fare in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Monroe is averaging 20.1 points per game this season but has not scored more than 21 in his last 10 games.
“All the wonderful things that happen to Chris are going to be a by-product of the team,” Hobbs said. “A lot of talk is about him getting the record. Well, I know one guaranteed way he can get the record – just go win three more games. Winning takes care of a lot of things.”