The streak has been snapped.
After more than six weeks, a change of calendar years, a presidential transition a few blocks east and a string of 11 defeats, the GW men’s basketball team no longer finds itself mired in a lengthy skid thanks to an 87-62 win over Fordham Saturday afternoon at Smith Center.
“A 10-game losing streak is just crazy,” junior Damian Hollis said after the victory, either losing track or simply paying little mind to the exact numbers representing the team’s preceding futility.
“Words can’t express how happy I am,” he added, though his naturally tranquil demeanor appeared to show a much-needed relief instead.
If the 6-foot-8 forward was relieved, he wasn’t alone. Even with a 25-point lead, in a game where they led by as many as 41, the Colonials’ (7-13, 1-7 A-10) entire bench stood with anticipation to watch the Rams’ final futile shot attempt rattle off the rim before the clock expired. Head coach Karl Hobbs could be seen visibly exhaling as the win became official and his team left the court victoriously for the first time since Dec. 23.
“It really brought a whole lot of good emotion to the locker room,” said senior Rob Diggs, whose 17 points included the 1,000th of his career. “It sort of took a lot of negative aspects we had out of our locker room, got guys happy again, hungry – let guys know that we’re still in it and we can accomplish something great.”
That Hobbs let out the aforementioned sigh should come as no surprise to anyone who watched him during the game. The fiery coach, known for his energetic, highly expressive conduct on the bench, continued to bark orders in the second half with the same frantic vigor he displays down the stretch of nail-biters. That his team was overwhelming its visitors in practically every facet of the game did little to sooth him.
“It’s very difficult for me to find comfort,” he said, explaining that he remains focused on each player’s execution even during such lopsided wins. “I find comfort tomorrow morning when I wake up and I realize we won the game.”
Though their coach may not have been relaxed, the Colonials were able to coast through much of the second half, seeming to ease their foot off the gas and slow the tempo as they maintained their lead. Many of GW’s reserves enjoyed spells of playing time, perhaps none using their minutes more efficiently than sophomore Joseph Katuka. The Nigerian southpaw contributed eight points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench, missing only one of five shots.
“That’s something that we need,” Hobbs said of Katuka’s play. “He’s given us a nice physical presence and he’s really starting to come on. He’s really starting to become a factor in basketball games.”
In all, a total of 14 Colonials saw the floor against the Rams, with 10 of them scoring. None did so more than Hollis, who had a team-high 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting. Senior Wynton Witherspoon had 13 points and freshman Tony Taylor added 10 to round out GW’s top scorers, with both of them playing in a reserve role after entering Saturday having started in six and 19 consecutive games, respectively.
With one streak now finally behind them, GW will look to start a new one and pick up their second straight victory Wednesday as they host La Salle. The game is set for a 7:30 p.m. start.