After scare, Colonials tackle Fordham

Men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs got frustrated last night. His players were not sharp, and it almost cost them.

“Everybody is fighting now,” Hobbs said after the GW men’s basketball team beat Fordham 80-70 in a tight contest. “It’s that time of year when you make too many mistakes in a ball game, you’re losing.”

The Rams (10-13, 6-6 Atlantic 10) are a young club, a similar squad to the Colonials during Hobbs’ first three seasons. At times, Fordham out-hustled GW (16-5, 8-3 A-10), but in the end experience prevailed, as the Colonials needed a 14-0 run in the middle of the second half to outlast Fordham.

Hobbs was especially angry with his team’s defense. GW allowed the Rams to shoot 45.8 percent from the field.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Fordham because they remind me of us last year in terms of their style, their ability to put points on the board,” Hobbs said. “We just can’t allow a team to score so easily on us in our building, particularly in the first half. They got in a really nice momentum. I think for us, we came out scoring so quickly, I think we got caught into just scoring.”

Senior T.J. Thompson led five players in double digits with 19 points, including several big shots down the stretch. Thompson also passed Mike King on GW’s the all-time scoring list to move to 19th place. Sophomore J.R. Pinnock and juniors Omar Williams and Mike Hall each had 11. Hall also ruled the boards, grabbing 12 rebounds in the win.

Junior Jermaine Anderson led Fordham with 18 points (4-for-7 from three-point range) while freshman Bryant Dunston had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Dunston is a five time A-10 Rookie of the Week.

GW entered the second half trailing 39-35, after Fordham went on a 5-0 run before the break. The Rams were able to extend their lead to 55-45 with 12:38 left in the game after going on a 16-6 run. Fordham looked like the more energetic team at that point, fighting for rebounds and loose balls.

However, the Colonials charged back with 14-0 run to go up 59-55 with 7:45 left. The Rams did not make a field goal from 12:38 to 5:07, when Dunston made a lay-up to cut GW’s lead to 62-60. It was the closest they would get the rest of the way.

GW was able to extend its lead to 65-60 with 4:36 remaining when Pinnock hit an open three-pointer from the corner. No Fordham defender was near the guard at the time.

“That was a huge shot,” Fordham coach Dereck Wittenberg said. “You have to expect that. That’s an example of a young (team’s) mistake.”

The Rams’ inability to connect from the free throw line (9-for-22) crippled them down the stretch.

“The free throws were the difference,” Wittenberg said. “If we hit them, it would’ve been a different game.”

For the second game in a row, the Colonials were able to start quickly with a three-pointer by senior T.J. Thompson. His shot sparked a 7-0 GW run, which Fordham quickly broke with four quick threes, all by Anderson. Anderson, along with Dunston, combined for their team’s first 14 points. The Colonials were able to take control for a period, going up 24-16 on a Thompson three with 11:18 remaining in the half. But Fordham dominated the rest of the half, outscoring GW 23-11 to take a four-point lead at the break.

Wittenberg is in a similar position that Hobbs was in during his rebuilding years with GW, with a bevy of inexperienced players who excel in spurts but struggle late in games.

“We have come a long way in a very short time,” Wittenberg said.

Hobbs agreed.

“We knew they had a terrific shooter,” Hobbs said of Anderson. “We knew Dunston is as good a player as any is in the league.”

The Colonials return to action at home on Saturday against the Duquesne Dukes at 2 p.m.

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