When the GW men’s basketball team began this season, most of the hype surrounding the squad was focused on senior Maureece Rice.
After somewhat disappointing performances in four of the Colonials’ first five games (Rice sat out during a loss at the University of Maryland Baltimore County for breaking an unspecified team rule), Rice finally showed why expectations for the guard were so high during a 79-38 victory over the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
Rice scored 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting, including nine points from behind the arc in 29 minutes.
UMES could not cover Rice but his shots also appeared to be much more fluid than in previous games.
“He really shot in rhythm. He looked good shooting them,” Coach Karl Hobbs said of Rice’s performance. “We need him to start to begin to build some momentum with his shooting.”
No players were made available to media after the game.
Since sophomore Travis King injured his knee, Hobbs has used Rice as the primary replacement as point guard. But against UMES, freshman Miles Beatty shouldered most of the ball-handling duties, freeing Rice up on the wing. Not only did this allow Rice better looks at the basket but it also gave him more opportunity to focus on hitting his shot.
Beatty’s shot also looked like it is making progress. Though he only had eight points on 3-for-6 shooting, he looked less timid in stepping into his jumper and more comfortable on the floor. His control with the ball looked erratic at times. At one point late in the game, he tried to dribble around three hounding defenders, ending in a turnover.
The Colonials (3-3) have been plagued by turnovers all season, and against the Hawks (1-8) it was no different, with GW coughing the ball up 19 times. But unlike against previous teams, Hobbs said the turnovers were not “bad turnovers” because they did not turn into opponents’ points. UMES had just six steals, hinting to the fact that the Colonials appeared to have been playing sloppy offense.
Because of the lopsided score and the listless opponent, Hobbs was able to play around with his lineup. Fourteen different players saw floor time, including 28 minutes for junior Wynton Witherspoon, who had 11 points. But the one player who was conspicuously missing was junior Cheyenne Moore. Hobbs said after the game that Moore got banged up in the shoot around, but he said he was not entirely sure what Moore had injured – guessing it was his knee.
The Colonials, who had returned to Smith Center for the first time since Nov. 14, now go on the road again to face Virginia Tech Sunday in Blacksburg, Va., at 5:30 p.m.