Colonials beat BU, move to 2-0

BOSTON – With the game clock nearing expiration in Tuesday’s first half, freshman Lasan Kromah officially announced his presence on this Colonials team. He did not say it with words, but instead etched it with a dagger, connecting from downtown on a pass from classmate Bryan Bynes and sending GW into the break with a six-point advantage and a crowd-killing capture of momentum.

It was Kromah’s second three-pointer of the evening, the fifth, sixth, and seventh points of what would blossom into a team-best 17 points, all of them key in generating a 69-59 victory that sent the young Colonials home with an unblemished 2-0 record after their season-opening road trip.

True, the first-year guard was not silent in his Sunday debut, a win at UNC-Wilmington in which he scored eight points. What set Tuesday’s performance apart and thrust the Maryland native into a starring role, though, was not just the volume, but the timing of his points.

It was more than the aforementioned buzzer-beating three. A trey kick-started the team’s scoring and put it on the board within the game’s first 50 seconds. There was another three – his fourth – from the wing with a hand in his face as the clock approached the second half’s 11-minute mark.

And there was what head coach Karl Hobbs would call the team’s “play of the game,” a nifty up-and-under layup through traffic to not only put the Colonials ahead by eight inside the game’s final five minutes, but also snapping a scoring drought of more than four minutes.

“Every basket he made was a huge basket,” Hobbs said after the game. “Every basket.”

Adding a few big baskets of his own was sophomore Tony Taylor, who in addition to grabbing a career-high eight rebounds, scored seven of his 10 points in the game’s final five minutes to keep GW ahead despite scoring surges from BU standouts Corey Lowe and John Holland.

Taylor knocked down mid-range jumpers on consecutive possessions following Kromah’s acrobatic drive to push the Colonials’ lead to 12, and made three of four free throws in the final two minutes. From his position as point guard, Taylor also helped keep GW’s offense – which had 13 first-half turnovers – in control as the clock ticked away; the Colonials turned the ball over just once in the final five minutes.

“It’s funny. We had moments where we were a little skittery and the last three minutes of the game, they showed great poise,” Hobbs said. “They were relaxed. They made their free throws. Why couldn’t we do that [earlier]?”

GW’s free-throw shooting, a frequent source of weakness last season and a downright troubling 46 percent in the opener, was much improved Tuesday. The team converted on 28 of its 35 trips to the charity stripe, no Colonial missing more than twice and senior Damian Hollis led the way by hitting seven out of eight of his foul shots.

The team’s defense also played very aggressively, running a full-court press for much of the game and stripping Terrier ballhandlers on multiple occasions, all on its way to forcing 18 turnovers and stymieing an often potent BU attack. The Terriers, who return four starters from last season, shot 36 percent on three-pointers and 42 percent overall a year ago, but only managed to connect at rates of 19 and 31 percent, respectively, against GW Tuesday.

“They get in passing lanes and you can’t run offense,” BU head coach Pat Chambers said. “I thought GW definitely sped us up sometimes and they definitely took us out of our rhythm.”

The win sends the Colonials back to the District unbeaten as they prepare for their first home game against UMBC Saturday at 2 p.m. Road victories can be hard to come by for an inexperienced college basketball team, but the Colonials have already picked up two in as many tries to begin their season.

“I’m pretty excited about that, obviously very satisfied that we’re 2-0,” Hobbs said. “We played two teams [in] their opening home game and for us to come out with two wins and really not be able to put together two good, solid halves – and I’m talking both games – to come away with two wins, I’m pretty pleased with that.”

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