PITTSBURGH – The box score of the men’s basketball team’s contest Wednesday night against Duquesne will say the game ended in an 84-59 loss for the Colonials, but for most of the game, it didn’t even feel that close.
The stats will say the Dukes shot 8 percentage points better from the floor than the Colonials (11-11, 4-4 Atlantic 10), and that they shot 43 free throws against GW, but for stretches Wednesday night it seemed as though the Colonials couldn’t make a single shot while the Dukes seemed to be getting easy buckets on every possession. Everything seemed to go Duquesne’s way Wednesday night as the Dukes steamrolled the Colonials en route to their 12th-straight win.
“In giving credit to them, we were overwhelmed by their speed and their quickness, and that’s what they pretty much have done to everybody that’s come in their building,” men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs said. “They’re the only team in the league that has the ability and has the speed to do that to teams that come in here.”
The Colonials struggled to hang onto the ball against the Dukes, the second-best team in the country in terms of steals per game. GW gave up a season-high 26 turnovers that translated into 29 Duquesne points Wednesday night, a statistic that more or less spelled doom for the Colonials as the Dukes piled up extra possessions.
“That’s a great word, if you want to use ‘snowball’… It was a question of us just not being able to consistently take care of the basketball. When you get 26 turnovers, I would call that a snowball,” Hobbs said. “When you have 26 turnovers it means you’re not getting shots at that basket, and they were converting a lot of those turnovers into layups, where they didn’t have to run any offense,” he added.
More disappointing, Hobbs said, was that if not for the turnovers, the Colonials could have remained in the game for much longer. GW, when it managed to hold onto the ball long enough to get a shot, made 41.3 percent of its field goals Wednesday night and shot 45.5 percent from behind the three-point line.
The bulk of that offense came from junior guard Tony Taylor, who single-handedly outscored the rest of his team in the first half by scoring 17 points on six of nine shooting. But fatigue caught up to Taylor in the second half, and as he slowed down, so did his team.
“Fatigue was definitely an issue tonight. There’s no way he was going to be able to sustain that,” Hobbs said of Taylor’s first-half performance. “We had to try to get him off the ball, but then we had no one else that could pretty much get us in the offense but him, and he wore down.”
Taylor refused to lean on weariness from his first half to explain the drop in production in the second. Taylor scored just 4 points in the second half to finish with 21 points, a drop he attributed to a defensive shift from Duquesne that sent more double teams his way.
“I think I didn’t play as well as I wanted to in the second half. I didn’t do what I needed to do to help my team,” Taylor said. “They picked it up. My teammates picked me up also. I just thought I didn’t play as well as I wanted to in the second half.”
As if the turnovers weren’t enough, the Colonials also struggled to stay out of foul trouble, especially in the first half when they collected 15 fouls. Things didn’t get any better in the second half for the the team, which had racked up 31 fouls by game’s end.
“That was disappointing, and I don’t want to talk about officials,” said Hobbs, who was himself whistled for a technical foul in the second half after complaining to a referee. “It was a very physical first-half game. One team was shooting free throws and the other team wasn’t… We’ve never played a basketball game with 15 fouls in a half.”
The Colonials won’t catch a break from their upcoming schedule. GW will travel south to North Carolina for a Super Bowl weekend match-up against Charlotte Saturday at 2 p.m. The Colonials will look to forget their performance Wednesday night, a tough task that Taylor said he and his teammates had already begun working on.
“After a game like this, everybody’s upset, and it’s hard not to show your emotions and it’s hard not to go against everyone in the locker room, but we’re doing a good job of keeping our composure and just staying together,” Taylor said. “This is one game and we have, I think, eight more left, and we have the potential to win every single one of them.”