As far as men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs is concerned, there are really only two reasons why GW fell 76-67 to Boston University in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off Tuesday night.
“One guy had 20,” Hobbs said. “And the other guy had 28.”
Guy one for the Terriers Tuesday night was junior forward Jake O’Brien, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes against the Colonials. Guy two was senior guard John Holland, who had 28 points, 17 of which came in the first half against GW (0-1).
“I gotta just give them the tip of the hat, I thought the kid John Holland was clearly the best player on the floor,” Hobbs said. “He took over the game, made all the big plays, made all the big shots. I thought he was the difference in the basketball game, we just didn’t have an answer for him.”
While Holland exploded in the first half, the Colonials sputtered out of the gate, and dug themselves an early hold, allowing Boston to open up the game on a 21-5 run over the first 13 and a half minutes. GW shot just over 30 percent from the floor in the first half and was just one of seven from behind the three-point line, while the Terriers opened up the game shooting over 53 percent and almost 44 percent from long distance.
“I thought they came out ready to play the game. It was like they were warmed up already, and we came out and it just took us awhile,” Hobbs said. “We missed some shots that could have kept us close enough, where we could have gone into halftime [down 10 points].”
Instead, GW went into halftime down 42-28 and searching for answers against a team that it hadn’t ever lost in Hobbs’ nine previous seasons. The dominance of Holland and O’Brien, combined with the double-digit deficit forced the team out of its game plan and into difficult and rushed shots on offense. After another slow start in the second half, GW began to climb back into the game, slowing down on offense just enough to refocus and mentally get out of scramble mode.
The Colonials were led offensively by junior guard Tony Taylor, who scored 18 points and had six assists in the loss. Senior center Joseph Katuka struggled at times finishing near the basket, but still managed to score 15 points and grab six rebounds before fouling out with 3:08 to go in the game.
Perhaps the biggest asset for GW in the second half was freshman Nemanja Mikic, who scored nine of his 12 points in the second half, all from behind the three-point line. The three players combined to account for nearly 70 percent of their team’s offense Tuesday night, and all three played major roles in GW’s second half resurgence.
In the space of three minutes and 40 seconds midway through the second half, GW halved the Terriers’ lead from 18 to nine, mostly on the strength of back-to-back threes from Mikic. The Colonials would make another run late in the game, shrinking the lead again to as small as five points with a minute and a half left, but the hole GW had dug itself from the opening tip proved to be too deep.
“I think the most important thing, we have to address our mental approach at the start of a basketball game, and that was the difference,” Hobbs said. “At the start of the basketball game, we weren’t prepared in the sense of, mentally understanding what needs to happen at the very beginning of the game.”
The loss means that the Colonials will have a less than 24-hour break before tomorrow’s game against Marist, which fell to Villanova earlier Tuesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., and Hobbs said preparation for Wednesday’s game would start almost immediately.
“The schedule is what it is,” “We’re gonna get back to the hotel rather late, so it means we’ll watch film, we’ll get up, and so we have very little turnaround time. I wish I had a day in between, just to kind of kind of get ourselves a little bit more prepared for tomorrow but hey, the bottom line is we got to get back to playing the way that we play.”