Alex Ellis/photo editor
BOSTON – Karl Hobbs walked swiftly down the court Friday night, ready to give Boston University head coach Dennis Wolff a congratulatory handshake. Nearly 5,000 Terrier fans were on their feet screaming after BU junior Corey Lowe made a layup in the final seconds of regulation play.
There was just one problem. The game wasn’t over.
“I thought we had lost the game,” GW’s men’s basketball coach said. “I’m walking down to shake Dennis’ hand, and Dennis looked at me like, ‘I think Karl has lost his mind.'”
In fact, Lowe’s basket had tied the game at 51 and sent the GW men’s basketball team to its first overtime in two and a half years. Five minutes of basketball later, GW had squeaked out a 63-58 victory in a game that seesawed wildly near the end.
Lowe’s layup at the end of regulation may not have won the game for BU, but it nearly ripped the heart out of GW’s overtime play nonetheless. Two free throws from Lowe and a three-pointer from John Holland gave the Terriers a quick five-point lead and a raucous fanbase. With three minutes to go in the extra period, GW senior Wynton Witherspoon made a momentum-shifting block, igniting a 13-2 run that gave the Colonials the victory.
“I think that was the game changer,” Hobbs said. “I thought Spoon . did a great job down the stretch.”
Witherspoon led the Colonials with 13 points, but it took effort from nearly every buff-and-blue jersey to earn the win Friday. GW had jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first half but played downhill from there, committing 26 turnovers over the course of the game and watching team leaders Rob Diggs and Damian Hollis combine for two points in the first period. In their stead, it was up to reserve Hermann Opoku (7 points) and freshmen Tony Taylor and Aaron Ware to pull the Colonials together mentally when their big names couldn’t produce.
“That’s part of our depth,” Hobbs said. “We’ve gotta play those guys, we’ve gotta get them ready.”
Of course, Hollis and Diggs would end up being factors as time dwindled in regulation, and GW may not have been able to pull through without them. Hollis made a crucial steal with just a over a minute to go that gave GW the lead before Lowe’s game-tying layup, and Diggs had 10 of his 12 points and 13 of his 14 rebounds in the second half and overtime.
But while GW did win their third-consecutive season opener, it was clear the Colonials are a work in progress. Sloppy ball-handling combined with a dismal 55 percent shooting clip from the free-throw line put GW in the hole, and without some Terrier miscues that deficit may have been too much to handle.
“Between the missed free-throws and the turnovers, we were very fortunate to win this game,” Hobbs said. “It came down to guys making key plays down the stretch and getting key rebounds.”