Men’s basketball nosedives in second half, falls to Auburn

Saturday, November 22

AUBURN, Ala. – It wasn’t as if the GW men’s basketball team surrendered its 15-point halftime lead to Auburn all in one fell swoop.

The Tigers’ Quartez Robertson scored off an offensive rebound to get Auburn going in the second frame. But one basket? That’s manageable. After all, GW’s large advantage at the break would lead most to believe they had some room for error.

But it was a discouraging sign of things to come.

“It happened right away,” Hollis said. “They came out pretty strong and then we started going on a downward slide.”

And GW continued to slide as a “deflated” Colonials team let their lead evaporate over the next 10 minutes, trading punches with the Tigers for a while before falling into a deficit they couldn’t reverse.

“It just snowballed,” Hollis said. “Then they started hitting shots and things upon things started adding up.”

GW had ridden a number of hot hands from beyond the arc in the first half, as five Colonials combined to hit 10 of 17 three-pointers. But they failed to get those same looks in the second half, and failed to convert them when they did.

They were outrebounded 24-10 in the game’s second period after enjoying a mild 16-13 advantage in that department before the break. Senior Rob Diggs and sophomore Xavier Alexander, the team’s first and third leading rebounders entering the game, were limited in minutes and playing style by their accumulation of personal fouls.

Head coach Karl Hobbs said he thought it came down to a physical battle that the Colonials were not able to win.

“It got down to a very physical, tough game,” he said. “And they were able to out-physical and out-tough us.”

Hollis led the team in scoring with 16 points, 13 of which came before halftime. His full scoring acumen was on display early, as he opened GW’s scoring a pair of drives to the hoop before hitting a jumper from the top of the key and behind the three-point line. But he made just one of five shot attempts in the second period and collected only one rebound.

Senior Noel Wilmore had 12 points on the afternoon, hitting four of six three-point attempts, but all four of those made shots and five of the attempts came in the first half. Wilmore was neutralized to the point of a non-factor as the game wore on — something Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo said he focused on.

For his part, Hobbs is focused on consistency, preventing that type of late-game letdown from happening again as the season goes on.

“It goes back to 40 minutes – that’s what I take away from this game,” he said. “We saw that we can be a terrific basketball team defensively as well as offensively. Now we’ve got to put ourselves in a position where we’re doing it for 40 minutes, not 20 minutes.”

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