Colonials fall hard at Xavier, again

Instead of avenging last month’s one-point loss to Xavier, the GW men’s basketball team fell flat Wednesday night. But this time, it wasn’t close.

The Musketeers handed the Colonials an 81-62 loss in front of 10,250 fans at the Cintas Center. Xavier repeatedly broke GW’s half-court trap and began the second half with a 17-3 run to open a 23-point lead that did not dip below 14 points the rest of the way.

Sophomore J.R. Pinnock’s 13-point, four-rebound performance was the lone bright spot for the Colonials. Senior T.J. Thompson, who was noticeably slowed by a flu-like illness, went 3-for-9 from the field, scoring eight points. Freshman Maureece Rice and juniors Omar Williams and Dokun Akingbade each had eight points in the loss. Junior Pops Mensah-Bonsu had a quiet game, scoring seven points and pulling down four rebounds. Sophomore Carl Elliott and junior Mike Hall each scored five.

Junior Brian Thornton (career-high 29 points, 9 rebounds) dominated the paint. He repeatedly was left open by the trapping Colonials, who had no answer for him down low. Freshman Stanley Burrell, who buried the Colonials with a last second three-pointer in the teams’ first meeting, scored 16 points, including four treys. Freshman Josh Duncan also had four three-pointers and 14 total points.

The Musketeers shot a scorching 59.3 percent from the floor in the second half compared to GW’s 41.4 percent. The Colonials were outmatched physically, as Xavier out-rebounded the Colonials 41-28. The Musketeers had 15 offensive rebounds which they converted into 14 second chance points.

After trailing 38-30 at intermission, the Colonials came out cold, managing only one field goal in the first six minutes of the second half. GW’s defense was no match for Xavier’s surging offense, which helped the Musketeers build a 56-33 lead with 13:47 remaining in the game. Pinnock had 11 second half points and pulled GW to within 14 points with 4:57 remaining, but GW could not get over the hump.

GW’s half-court trap was completely ineffective, as Xavier’s ball movement continuously found open men down low and on the perimeter. By game’s end, the Musketeers scored 34 points in the paint and hit nine three-pointers.

The first half was close, as neither team could pull away early. Omar Williams’ free throw gave the Colonials a 26-25 lead with 6:35 left, but Xavier soon took over. Thornton’s dunk and Burrell’s trey put their team up 30-26 at the 5:22 mark, and Xavier proceeded to go on an 8-4 run to go into the break up by eight points.

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