The Buff jerseys may look silly but the GW men’s basketball team might want to wear them more often.
For the second straight game, the Colonials wore the gold garb and for the second straight game, they won. This time, it was a 59-53 victory over Richmond in front of 3,129 at Smith Center that gave GW consecutive wins for the first time since its first two games of the season in early November.
The Spiders were tied for second in the Atlantic 10 before entering the contest and GW sat second from the bottom. Richmond, which plays a slow-paced Princeton offense style, came out shooting and jumped out to an early 10-point lead. It was a level of poise that GW head coach Karl Hobbs said the team has lacked this season that kept Richmond from running away early with the game.
“In the past we would get discouraged,” Hobbs said after the game. “But today, our attitude was if ‘we’re not going to score, then you’re not going to score.'”
The Colonials (8-14, 4-8 A-10) relied heavily on its defense to keep them in the game. Though the Spiders (14-11, 7-5 A-10) are not a high-scoring team – averaging 64 points per game entering the contest – GW was able to dictate the pace of most of the second half using a trap that left Richmond disjointed.
“What we really wanted to do was go to half-court traps and then fall back into our own zone defense,” Hobbs said. “We didn’t want to be chasing them.”
The Colonials have done a lot of chasing this season, as they have found themselves behind in the second half of most games. But against the Spiders, they were able to catch up with 10 minutes left in the game, and Richmond was the team left struggling to even the score.
Strong free-throw shooting down the stretch, coupled with the Spiders missing some key shots, is what allowed the Colonials to come away with the edge. Sophomore Damian Hollis had 14 of his 16 points in the second half, the second-straight game where the forward has been pivotal in the win. This time, Hollis picked up when junior Rob Diggs, who had 18 points in the first half, was held to two points after the break.
But it was Diggs who almost single handedly kept GW alive in the first half.
“I know that in the past, we’d get discouraged when we didn’t score,” Diggs said. “I just tried to keep us on the boards and keep us energized.”
“He’s a terrific player, very strong,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said of Diggs. “He just had his way too much in the first half.”
Both teams struggled greatly from the field, neither shooting better than 37 percent. GW made six field goals in the second half and missed all 12 of its three pointers, the first time the program has failed to score from downtown since February 1999.
Hobbs said part of winning is catching a break down the stretch, which GW did against Richmond, as the Spiders missed three of their last four shots. The Colonials may have caught another with Dayton’s fall from grace over the past month. The Flyers lost to No. 10/12 (AP, ESPN/USA Today) Xavier Sunday afternoon and now sit half a game ahead of GW. The Colonials defeated Dayton Feb. 9 and hold the tiebreaker if the two teams finish the season tied.
GW next faces Rhode Island Wednesday 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Smith Center.