St. Joe’s hands men 11th straight loss

PHILADELPHIA-Wednesday night at Saint Joseph’s, the GW men’s basketball team went about proving once again that they can play with any of their Atlantic 10 opponents. It’s the nagging matter of beating them that’s the problem.

GW matched its third-place hosts over the opening 20 minutes, entering halftime trailing by only four, a surmountable lead in the run-heavy game of college basketball. But while the second half opened with a run, the Colonials found themselves on the wrong end of the burst, allowing the Hawks to open a double-digit lead they parlayed into a 66-58 GW defeat, their 11th straight.

“The first five minutes of the second half – that’s where we lost the game,” head coach Karl Hobbs said of a stretch that provided the Hawks enough of a cushion that they were never truly threatened for the remainder of the game.

The next five minutes weren’t any kinder for GW (6-13, 0-7 A-10). After a three-pointer by senior Noel Wilmore shortly before the 15-minute mark, the Colonials went nearly four and a half minutes without a field goal. The Hawks, too, were relatively cold shooting the ball, but GW was colder, allowing Saint Joseph’s to tread water with their lead.

That the Colonials found themselves in a competitive position at the game’s mid-point appeared to be an encouraging sign. GW has often kept pace with quality opponents this season by enjoying extended stretches of success from beyond the arc, but they had no such hot hand in the first half Wednesday.

Instead they excelled on the glass and scored on second chance put-back opportunities. Sophomore Joseph Katuka had a few such baskets, one of which he grabbed and redirected toward the hoop with one hand as he fell to the floor.

Then, of course, the game underwent a clear shift, the source of which was no mystery to Hobbs.

“It’s not that complicated,” Hobbs said. “It came down to the second half where their guards simply overwhelmed our guards. They just simply outplayed them in every phase. They defended our guys and they scored.”

As he was quick to point out, the numbers back up Hobbs’s assessment. The team’s starting guards – redshirt sophomore Travis King and freshman Tony Taylor – combined to make just one of six shots from the field, turning the ball over five times while registering just two assists. Wilmore, the team’s three-point specialist off the bench, made just two of his seven shot attempts, all of which were taken from beyond the arc.

The Hawks’ guards certainly did more to fill the score sheet. Tasheed Carr, last week’s A-10 Co-Player of the Week, notched 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while teammate Darrin Govens matched him in scoring and added four steals. The team’s third starting guard, Garrett Williamson, may have recorded little in the stat columns but played a pivotal defensive role.

Not helping matters was GW’s position on the wrong end of a major 31-11 free throw disparity for the game as a whole.

“Early in the game, without question, I thought one team was allowed to be more physical than the other team,” Hobbs said before qualifying that he did not think the officiating influenced the game’s outcome.

GW will now enter a key stretch of the A-10 slate that would appear to offer its best opportunity to collect some wins and snap out of its slump. Of the Colonials’ next six games, four come against the teams currently sitting 10th through 13th in the conference standings: Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Charlotte and Fordham, respectively.

The stretch begins Saturday at home as the Colonials host Fordham. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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