CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Overwhelmed. That was GW men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs’s assessment of his team in Saturday’s 69-51 loss at Charlotte. The Colonials (7-15, 1-9 Atlantic 10) got off to a disquieting start after hostile crowd noise caused them to miss their pregame introduction cues, with things never significantly improving after they made their way onto the court.
“Physically, they just overwhelmed us,” Hobbs said. “We had some turnovers and they capitalized on them and that was pretty much what happened throughout the game.”
The game escaped GW’s grasp quickly, as the 49ers took off on an early 15-3 run that eventually ballooned into a 37-17 halftime advantage. The Colonials managed to make just six field goal attempts and record three assists in the first half while turning the ball over 11 times.
One particular pair of 49ers, forward Lamont Mack and center Charlie Coley, gave GW fits. Mack fueled Charlotte’s initial spark, providing an eight-point scoring burst in the game’s opening four minutes that included two three-pointers. He led all scorers with 23 points while Coley added 12 points, eight rebounds and a game-high three steals.
“I thought their two inside guys really dominated the game from start to finish and really just sort of overwhelmed us,” Hobbs said, using the post-game buzzword yet again. “They never gave us an opportunity to have a chance to really get back into the game.”
Not only did the 49ers’ post play result in Charlotte dominance in the paint – where they outscored GW 32 to 16 – but it also created opportunities elsewhere on the floor. No 49er personified this better than Mack himself, who hit just as many shots – four – from outside the three-point arc as he did from inside of it.
“When we were able establish post presence it opened a lot of things,” Mack said. “We were able to make some threes also off of that.”
Charlotte point guard Dijuan Harris was quick to recognize such chances, eschewing his own scoring in order to set up baskets for his teammates. Nine different 49ers scored in the game, six of whom did so at least once off a pass from Harris.
While GW’s play did improve after halftime, when they narrowly outscored their hosts by a basket, Charlotte was able to maintain their cushion with relative ease. Despite small bursts of scoring and a 13-shot advantage in second-half free throws, the Colonials never got any closer than their final 18-point margin of defeat.
“They had such a big lead that I thought they played a little conservatively,” Hobbs said of Charlotte’s second-half play. “But every time we made a run they got big rebounds and made big shots when they had to.”
A win would have gone a long way in improving GW’s now dwindling chances of reaching the A-10 tournament in March. Twelve of the conference’s 14 teams make the trip to Atlantic City, N.J., with the Colonials now separated from the all-important twelfth seed by two games and a head-to-head tiebreaker with six games to play.
GW’s next chance to improve their standing will come Thursday when they host St. Bonaventure. The game is scheduled for a 9 p.m. start.