RICHMOND, Va. – Karl Hobbs opened his post-game press conference tonight with a straight face, a congratulations to No. 25 Richmond (AP) and a simple statement: “Kevin Anderson is the best player in the world.”
Hobbs was quick to clarify that he was joking, but had he just been caught up in hyperbole after his team’s 74-70 loss to the Spiders, the ninth-year head coach could have been forgiven.
After all, Anderson – a junior guard that leads first-place Richmond in scoring – had practically single-handedly kept his team afloat against a relentless GW (14-11, 4-8 Atlantic 10) team that seemed ready to answer every Spiders scoring burst.
Richmond came out hot, beginning the game on a 13-4 run, but after calling a timeout to talk things over, the Colonials responded with an identical run of their own over the next five minutes to tie the game.
“We told them in the first three minutes, they’re probably gonna make every single shot. So we gotta withstand that first three minutes and once the game settled down, we should be okay,” Hobbs said.
After that, the contest become a back-and-forth battle, the teams trading potential momentum-shifting moments to ensure that neither retained the upper hand for more than a few possessions.
The game ultimately saw 10 tie scores and 15 lead changes, many of them coming in the second half when Anderson and GW freshman Lasan Kromah entered a sort of duel down the stretch. When Kromah hit a three-pointer to put the Colonials up by four inside the second half’s 14-minute mark, Anderson responded with consecutive layups to tie the game.
When Anderson scored to put Richmond up three a few minutes later, Kromah grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to cut GW’s deficit to one. Anderson hit a jumper to give the Spiders a lead with a little over three minutes left in the game, but Kromah knocked down a three on the other end to put the Colonials up by two.
With 1:21 left and the score tied, however, Anderson provided the decisive blow, connecting on a jump shot to put his team up two and give it a lead it never relinquished en route to a narrow win.
When the final buzzer had sounded, Anderson finished with 24 points and seven assists to his name; Kromah tallied a career-best 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Hobbs’ post-game praise was not limited to the crunch-time scorer on the other end, as he also said he was impressed by his own team’s leading scorer.
“The thing I liked more than anything else: he was very poised, particularly for a young guy like that,” Hobbs said. “He took really good shots. He really had a good feel – when to drive and when to pull up.”
The loss keeps GW in ninth place in the 14-team A-10. Depending on the outcomes of Sunday’s A-10 action, GW will find itself anywhere in from ninth to 11th place before it next takes the court. Twelve teams make the conference’s postseason tournament, which the Colonials have missed the last two years, and Hobbs said the team’s priority is ending that drought.
“What I told my team is, ‘You guys lost to a very good team on their court, but it was a game that I felt we should have won,’” he said. “We have to re-focus, we gotta continue to come to practice and play with a great deal of energy, and we owe it to ourselves to extend our season.”
GW will host La Salle Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Smith Center.
Game notes: Sophomore Tony Taylor finished with 14 points and seven assists… GW out-rebounded Richmond 42-30, the second straight game in which the Colonials accumulated a double-digit advantage on the boards. Senior Damian Hollis was second to Kromah among Colonials with six rebounds. Senior Hermann Opoku and freshman David Pellom both grabbed five… GW had won three straight games at Richmond’s Robbins Center prior to this game… GW made seven of its 14 free throws.