RICHMOND, Va. – As ice and snow blanketed the ground of the University of Richmond campus, the GW men’s basketball team couldn’t stay warm. The Colonials suffered their second loss in three games Saturday afternoon, a 70-59 defeat at the hands of the Spiders.
The Colonials’ sloppy play induced a season-high 26 turnovers and a season-low 59 points. As the Colonials advance further into their Atlantic 10 schedule, head coach Karl Hobbs has made clear that the high expectations placed on his team will not be met if they do not start playing better.
Saturday, Hobbs said the team could not adjust to the Spiders’ defensive pressure, which stifled GW down the stretch.
“I thought clearly we had some plays we forced. We didn’t do a good job making adjustments,” Hobbs said. “We kept trying to make the home run play and we didn’t settle down and take the shot. We tried to do things at 99 miles per hour and we just need to settle down and execute the things we need to do offensively.”
GW (12-4, 4-2 A-10), the 11th highest scoring team in the nation, experienced troubles with offensive production, shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Colonials’ top two scorers combined for eight points, as senior T.J. Thompson scored three and junior Pops Mensah-Bonsu had only five.
Mensah-Bonsu, who played just 17 minutes against the Spiders, has shot 4-for-13 from the floor in the last two games after breaking his nose on Jan. 15. Thompson left the game with a leg injury and later returned.
The Spiders were able to tone down the Colonials’ scoring machine, forcing them into their weaker half-court set. Although never letting their deficit jump to above 11 points, the Colonials were not able to spark a run to put themselves in their comfort zone.
In the first half, GW was always one scoring splurge away from taking the lead. The Spiders led by four points with 11:41 remaining in the half when Mike Hall hit a three-pointer to put the Colonials down by one. But Andrea Sandoval (12 points) responded with a lay-up to increase the lead to three points. Carl Elliott (12 points) hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 20 with 10 minutes remaining in the half, but the Spiders went on a 14-6 run to enter the intermission with a 34-26 halftime lead.
Hobbs’ team left the locker room at halftime to tackle their second largest halftime deficit of the season. After Kevin Steenberge (15 points) connected to increase the Spiders’ lead to 10, the Colonials responded with an 8-0 run, their largest of the game, to cut the lead to two points. The Colonials took the lead on a Mike Hall jumper with 12:17 remaining, but that was the Colonials’ last taste of success, as the Spiders outscored them by 11 points in the last eight minutes of the game.
The Colonials’ schedule does not get easier, as they face perennial league powerhouses Xavier, Dayton and Temple in their next three games. Hobbs said the Colonials must regain their focus to get out of their mini-slump.
“We have to do the things we’ve been doing and maintain a level of focus and intensity,” Hobbs said. “Since I’ve been here at GW, the teams we have coming up have been losses. We have yet to win a game at Richmond. We have our work cut out for us. We are probably the fourth best team in the league now.”
Xavier will visit Foggy Bottom Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. game. The Colonials trail the Musketeers in 17-8 in the all-time series.