Colonials stumble down stretch

The simplicity of sports can be cruel to preachers of process, as so immediate and binary are results of wins and losses. Karl Hobbs is not about to let his team’s season be so reduced.

And so it was that after the men’s basketball team’s loss to Richmond Saturday, a 62-57 defeat, that the ninth-year head coach sought to do some simplification of his own.

The game’s outcome, Hobbs said, was not about the team’s ongoing four-game losing streak, not about the pace at which the game was played amid 52 whistles for fouls, not about any one glaring deficiency in a certain facet of the team’s overall composition and function.

Instead, Hobbs said the loss was just a loss – a close game between two teams in which one executed better than the other in the closing moments and walked away with the win.

“I’m not gonna lose sight of what actually happened in the game because [Richmond] won,” Hobbs said. “The reality and the fact of the matter is they made a great play down the stretch… There were about 10 different plays that could have made the difference in the game.”

The Colonials (11-7, 1-4 Atlantic 10) went into halftime holding a two-point lead after a first half that saw five ties and seven lead changes. With the score tied inside the second half’s 15-minute mark, GW went on a 2.5 minute, 7-0 run to take what would be its biggest lead of the game.

From that point, however, the Spiders began to display a shooting acumen that had previously been dormant, hitting consecutive three-pointers to begin a stretch in which Richmond made six of its next seven such shots to fuel its eventual victory.

“They’re a very good three-point shooting team. They make threes,” Hobbs said. “They made some big shots down the stretch because that’s what good teams do.”

It was a three-point shot that would prove to be the decisive score between the two teams, when Richmond’s Ryan Butler broke a tie score with 26 seconds remaining. The Spiders’ David Gonzalvez drove to the basket and found Butler, left open by GW’s collapsing defense, uncovered in the corner and beyond the arc for what would become the game-winning score.

GW called a timeout to set up a play on the other end, which Hobbs said was designed to have senior Damian Hollis and freshman Lasan Kromah come open on the perimeter. Hollis “popped out a little too soon,” Hobbs said, resulting in a mistimed play that ended with Hollis missing a three-point shot while futilely attempting to draw contact from a defender.

Richmond’s Kevin Anderson, who led all scorers with 21 points, grabbed the rebound and was fouled with less than two seconds on the clock. He made both free throws to arrive at the game’s final five-point margin.

“You just can’t have those kind of unforced errors,” Hobbs said of his team’s late-game mistakes. “And when I say errors, I’m talking bad passes. We made some questionable decisions… You just can’t do that against good teams.”

The Colonials were often kept afloat on offense by sophomore Tony Taylor, who sank all eight of his free throws and made several aggressive drives to the basket on his way to a team-leading 16 points. Taylor’s scoring was needed while Hollis, the team’s leading scorer this season, was limited in minutes by foul trouble and in effectiveness by injury.

Hobbs praised the effort of Hollis, who finished with nine points and six rebounds but also six turnovers, and said the senior missed two days of practice with sore ribs and that his availability had been questionable entering the game.

GW will continue its season Wednesday, when it hosts a Saint Louis team that has won three of its four A-10 meetings this season. Hobbs said there is plenty of time left in his team’s 16-game league schedule to turn things around before the ultimate results of this season are put in the books.

“Yeah, we’re 1-4, but that’s okay,” he said, referring to his team’s conference record. “I think we’ve got quite a few games left. We’ll see where we finish.”

Wednesday’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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