Colonials bounce back

After his team lost all four games of its winter break road trip, junior guard T.J. Thompson sounded happy to be playing at the Smith Center again.

“We’ve been on a little slump,” he said after his team defeated Temple 78-60 on Wednesday. “So it was important to get this win to break the ice, get our momentum back and see where we’re at.”

The Colonials (8-6, 2-1 Atlantic 10) kept the momentum going Saturday by defeating Massachusetts 76-61 at the Mullins Center in Amherst, Mass. The win was the first for GW on the road since Nov. 21, when the Colonials opened the regular season by defeating the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

The Colonials began the trip with a loss to Old Dominion University Dec. 20 and a loss to Fairfield University Dec. 23 in which GW led by eight points with 30 seconds to play but lost in overtime. GW finished the trip with losses to two nationally-ranked teams, University of Texas and St. Joseph’s.

“Our problems have come from our defense,” GW head coach Karl Hobbs said. “Forget our offense, because we’re averaging 72 points per game. If you look at all the games that we lost, we scored points in those games, but guys who don’t usually score a lot have hurt us.”

The Colonials improved on their defense Saturday with a 76-51 win at Massachusetts. GW, led by junior Tamal Forchion’s season-high 17 points, held the Minutemen to 37.5 percent shooting while connecting on more than 54 percent of its own shots.

“Anytime we win on the road, it’s a real good win,” Hobbs said. “And the best thing about (Saturday) was we were able to put together two good defensive halves.”

The Colonials outscored the Minutemen 16-2 in fast break points and dominated the inside, outscoring UMass 40-28 in the paint.

GW jumped out to a 12-0 lead early in the game and built a 44-20 lead at the break by shooting nearly 56 percent in the first half. The Minutemen went on a 17-4 run in the first seven minutes of the second half to cut the GW lead to 48-37, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way.

Wednesday, Jan. 7
GW 78, Temple 60

Before traveling north to UMass, the Colonials were able to do something they had not done since 1996 – beat Temple. Thompson scored a team-high 21 points and dished out six assists in his team’s first A-10 win of the year.

Thompson gave Temple fits all day, especially from the perimeter, where he connected on five three-pointers.

“We put up on the board, ‘Recognition,'” Temple head coach John Chaney said. “Which means recognizing that there is a guy running around out there with a knife, with a gun, with a bat. His name is T.J. (Thompson).”

GW shot more than 48 percent from the field and held Temple to less than 37 percent shooting.

The Colonials trailed 34-29 at halftime but dominated after the break. GW began the second half on a 25-8 run and took a 54-42 lead with 13:02 left in the game. The Owls cut the lead to 63-56 with 6:35 left, but the Colonials ended the game on a 15-4 run.

Saturday, Jan. 3
St Joseph’s 90, GW 81

St. Joseph’s guard, Jameer Nelson, could not do much last January in his team’s 74-68 loss to the GW men’s basketball team. In that game, the eight-time A-10 player of the week scored only eight points on 2-for-10 shooting.

Almost a year later, Nelson got some payback by racking up 29 points. Like most of last year’s game, the first half was very close, as the Hawks went into the break, up 46-42. St. Joe’s began the second half on a 15-9 run to build a 61-51 lead and withstood a GW run, eventually extending its lead to 82-70 to seal the game.

Monday Dec. 29
Texas 88, GW 72

The nationally-ranked Gonzaga University Bulldogs used a strong inside attack to defeat the GW men’s basketball team, 96-91, in early December. Nearly a month later, another Top 25 opponent followed the Bulldogs’ example to produce a much more lopsided result.

The No. 19 (Associated Press) University of Texas Longhorns outscored GW 44-16 in the paint in their victory over the Colonials in Austin, Texas, and Texas’s domination carried over to other aspects of the game as well. Texas had a 45-31 advantage on the boards and shot more than 53 percent from the field, 15 percent better than GW’s 38.1 percent for the game.

Tuesday, Dec. 23
Fairfield 75, GW 67

Two of GW’s biggest problem areas this year, holding onto leads and the ball, hit a low point in the overtime loss to the Stags. The Colonials led by 17 with less than nine minutes remaining and by eight with just 30 seconds left but still managed to lose, turning the ball over 25 times in the process.

Fairfield guard Terrence Todd hit a three-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining that tied the game at 65-65 and capped off a 22-4 Fairfield run to force overtime.

Saturday, Dec. 20
Old Dominion 72, GW 62

Following the trend this season, the Colonials squandered an early lead and had trouble taking care of the ball. GW had a 26-16 lead with 8:02 left in the first half but went into the breakup 35-34 and finished the game with 22 turnovers. Old Dominion shot just under 49 percent for the game and more than 59 percent in the second half, which helped the Monarchs build a commanding lead over the Colonials (40 percent shooting for the game).

Wednesday, Dec. 10
GW 76, Towson 57

The Colonials got off to their best start since the 1997-98 season with the win. Towson shot nearly 40 percent against GW, a number Hobbs said needs to be whittled down to about 36 percent or 37 percent in order to win consistently.

“I’ll worry to death about the things that went wrong in the game tonight,” he said. “We’re not a good basketball team yet.”

-Brian Costa contributed to this report.

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