Freeman beats buzzer, upsets men’s basketball

The GW men’s basketball team hit a mid-season bump in the road Saturday. Despite battling back from an 18-point deficit to Massachusetts, the No. 21 (Associated Press) Colonials eventually fell 76-74 to the Minutemen in overtime in front of 4,310 fans at the Smith Center.

While the loss was tough to take for coach Karl Hobbs and the Colonials (11-3, 3-1 Atlantic 10), he reiterated that his team is still a work in progress. UMass improved to 8-6 overall and 2-2 in the league with the win.

“We are a team trying to be there,” Hobbs said. “We are a team that is trying to be consistent. We are a team that is trying to make steps to become an NCAA team. That’s our goal and that’s what it’s always been. Teams lose basketball games. It’s not the end of the world.”

With 17 seconds remaining in overtime and the score tied at 74, GW sophomore J.R. Pinnock found himself at the foul line. Pinnock, an 87.5 percent free throw shooter, missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and after a UMass rebound and the subsequent offensive possession, the game looked headed for a second overtime.

But with just over a second remaining, Minutemen point guard Anthony Anderson fired a nifty pass to Rashaun Freeman, who converted the lay-up to give UMass a two-point lead with 0.4 seconds left and seal it. The forward had an outstanding game, scoring a game-high 27 points to go along with 15 rebounds.

“Rashaun Freeman is the best big man in the league,” Hobbs said. “He is an all-league player. Maxwell (20 points, 5 rebounds) is an all-league player. A lot of people talk about the talent we have but there isn’t a whole lot of difference in the talent between UMass and GW. There isn’t much difference in the experience.”

Pinnock led the Colonials with 15 points and junior Mike Hall added 14 points and 10 rebounds. T.J. Thompson, who leads the Colonials scoring, was held to seven points on 3-for-11 shooting. Thompson, who also leads the A-10 in three-point shooting, hit only one – which happened to be the trey that tied the game at 70 late to send the contest to overtime.

To get in that position, GW unleashed a 24-3 run to turn a 55-37 deficit into a 61-58 lead with 5:49 to go in the game. In the last minute and a half, the teams went back and forth before Thompson’s three tied the game with 27 seconds left.

Early on, the Minutemen helped control the Colonials’ up-tempo offense, holding GW to 29 points in the first half. A flurry of errors plagued the Colonials in the first and led them to the largest halftime deficit this season (10 points), which was also Massachusetts’ largest midway lead of the season.

“I thought their zone really controlled the tempo. We didn’t shoot the ball well against it,” Hobbs said. “At times we became a little frustrated because we couldn’t make jump shots and we normally make them.”

GW hits the road on Wednesday to face La Salle.

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