The GW men’s basketball team kept Dayton’s Sean Finn in check for the majority of Wednesday night’s game, holding the 7-foot, 240-pound center to only 12 points. But when the Flyers needed him most, Finn came through to help his team to a 74-66 victory in front of 12,558 at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio.
With the Flyers leading 63-58, Finn got the ball in the low post, dunked it and was fouled by GW sophomore Pops Mensah-Bonsu. Finn, who only played 21 minutes because of foul trouble, made the free throw to complete the three-point play and give Dayton a 66-58 advantage with 1:30 left on the clock.
Freshmen Ricky Lucas and Carl Elliott both scored with under a minute to go, but Dayton converted its free throws late to seal the game.
“Quite simply, we lost to a more mature team,” GW head coach Karl Hobbs told WRGW after the game. “Their seniors made big plays. We had opportunities to close out their lead but we didn’t finish plays off.”
A win would have put the Colonials (9-7, 3-1 Atlantic 10) in first place in the A-10 West, but the loss, combined with Duquesne’s win over Rhode Island, puts them in a tie for second place with the Dukes. Both the Colonials and the Dukes are behind the Flyers, who are off to a 5-0 start in the A-10 (15-3 overall).
With most statistical categories even, the game’s outcome came down to free throws. Dayton dominated from the charity stripe, converting 17 of 25 free throws (68 percent). The Colonials converted three free throws on just nine attempts.
Elliott and sophomore Omar Williams each had 12 points for the Colonials, who shot just under 43 percent from the field for the game. Sophomore Mike Hall continued his strong work on the glass, pulling down 10 rebounds in 30 minutes of work to go along with eight points.
The Flyers could not pull away in the first half, and as a result the Colonials went into the break trailing only 37-34. Dayton shot 40 percent from the field in the first, while GW shot 39 percent.
Leading 37-34, the Flyers began the second half on a 9-2 run to open up a 46-36 lead. The Colonials cut the lead to single digits on numerous occasions, but Dayton always had an answer.
Dayton will travel to the Smith Center Feb. 18 for a re-match against the Colonials, who have now lost to the Flyers six times in a row. Hobbs said the second meeting will not be any easier for his team, despite the change of venue.
“Their team is still going to be older, better and more experienced than us,” he said.
Next up for the Colonials is a home game against Duquesne (8-8, 3-2 A-10), a team that upset Xavier earlier this year and split two games with GW last season. Tip-off is Saturday at 4 p.m.