DAYTON, Ohio – Coming off a pair of excruciating conference losses to Xavier and La Salle last week, the GW men’s basketball team entered its game Wednesday looking for redemption and a signature win against a Dayton team that is expected to finish first in the conference and compete well into March.
The Flyers had other ideas for the Colonials, however, breaking away early in the first half and cruising through the second on their way to handing GW a 66-51 beat-down, Dayton’s 30th straight home win.
The Colonials (11-6, 1-3 Atlantic 10) hung with the Flyers early, trading baskets until the 16:18 mark, when Dayton took over the lead permanently. GW faded quickly from there as Dayton grew its lead to six within two minutes and to 15 with just under a minute and a half left in the first half. The second half was more of the same as the Flyers came out with an intensity that the Colonials struggled to match, going on an 8-2 run coming out of the locker room to further bury GW.
The game was never really close at any point in the second half, as Dayton’s lead expanded to much as 24 on an 8-0 run with 14:35 left in the second half. The Colonials never managed to close the gap to single digits at any point after the seven-minute mark in the first half.
Head coach Karl Hobbs pointed to a lack of rebounding and missed foul shots in the first half as well as the Flyers’ early second-half run as the main catalysts for his team’s loss.
“Our problem was in the first half was offensive rebounding and us not making the rebounds to keep us within distance,” Hobbs said after the game. “I thought the first four minutes of the second half, we did not get off to a good start, and then from that point on, we were just trying to get back in the game somehow.”
GW was dominated in nearly every statistical category on the night. Dayton out-rebounded the Colonials 43-30, and out-shot them from the free-throw line, shooting nearly 73 percent to GW’s 47. Freshman guard Lasan Kromah was the only Colonial in double figures for the night, scoring 14 points in a team-high 26 minutes. Dayton had three players in double figures Wednesday, including a double-double from junior forward Chris Wright who grabbed 12 rebounds to go with his team high 14 points.
Senior Damian Hollis, who lead’s the team in scoring and rebounding, scored five points in only 12 minutes of action. Hobbs said after the game that Hollis’ limited action was due to a lack of energy.
“He’s fine, I just felt that this was a high-level, high energy game,” Hobbs said of his team’s leading scorer and rebounder this season. “I just felt that his energy level wasn’t what it needed to be.”
The challenge for Hobbs will now be how he motivates the young Colonials team as their early struggles in conference play continue to follow their hot start in nonconference action. Hobbs said that even though his team’s confidence is not soaring, it remains acceptable after the loss.
“I think the confidence level, obviously is not at its highest, but I think the confidence level is fine,” Hobbs said. “I think that this is just part of the growing process… We’re just trying to get better.”
Still, Hobbs said any swagger his team has lost after a third straight conference defeat should come right back for the Colonials with their next win.
“Without question,” Hobbs said. “Winning breeds confidence.”
GW will return to action Saturday at the Smith Center against Richmond, with tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m.