Men’s basketball overcomes sluggish first half to take down the Terriers

Media Credit: Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor

Joe McDonald finished with 20 points and nine rebounds in GW's resilient win over Boston University on Wednesday night.

With Boston University up eight points over GW at the end of the first half Wednesday, it looked like an opponent finally figured out how to end the Colonials’ hot start.

GW was on its heels, not sure where to go with the ball because of BU’s superb ball movement and quick backcourt.

Media Credit: Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor
Point guard Joe McDonald finished with 20 points and nine rebounds in GW’s resilient win over Boston University on Wednesday night.

But as good teams do, the Colonials didn’t count themselves out. The team didn’t necessarily make second-half adjustments, head coach Mike Lonergan said, but had a change in effort level. GW surged ahead in the second half to grab their ninth win of the season – a 70-60 victory over the Terriers.

BU came out in the first and immediately established its style of play, using their quick guards to drive the lane and either finish or dish it out to an open shooter.

After getting two early fouls, forward Isaiah Armwood was sent to the bench and would play only six minutes in the entire half, going 0-3 from the field and grabbing just one board.

“We just didn’t play hard and the hard part of that is the guy [Isaiah Armwood] who plays hard for us was on the bench. But we didn’t have a lot of energy,” Lonergan said.

At one point, the Colonials offense went three and half minutes without a basket, and despite stopping the drought with a dunk from Kevin Larsen, the Terriers would end the half on an 11-6 run.

Whatever Lonergan said to his team at halftime, it worked.

Media Credit: Cameron Lancaster | Photo Editor
Forward Isaiah Armwood’s quick fouls in the first half put him on the bench early in the game, and slowed down GW.

They opened the half on an 8-2 run, not being denied their chances to work the ball inside. On defense, Lonergan went to the 1-3-1 zone that has worked magic for GW this year, and it did so once again. The Terriers were rattled and became frustrated as shots stopped falling for them.

BU would shoot just 29 percent from three in the second half and make it to the line just twice.

Comparatively, as the BU defense became overly aggressive, the Colonials made them pay for it at the charity stripe. GW went 22-31 from the line for the game, highlighted by 11-15 shooting from guard Kethan Savage and 10-12 shooting from point guard Joe McDonald.

“Once you go there a lot, you start to develop a rhythm, and that definitely happened tonight,” McDonald said. “Last year, we weren’t that great from the line, so that’s also been a big thing for this team that has helped us out in close games. Last year we would’ve lost or we would be losing late because of missed free throws, but now we’re up.”

It was the eight points from McDonald that had saved the Colonials from going down double-digits in the first, and it was the hard play of Savage in the second that helped GW surge ahead.

McDonald would finish the night with 20 points and nine boards – eight of the rebounds coming in the second half. Savage would lead the team with 22 points, but could have easily had 30. He shot 5-13 form the field on the night, often just missing his shots close to the basket before drawing the foul.

Two other Colonials – Larsen and graduate student guard Maurice Creek – would finish in double figures, Larsen with 11 points and Creek with 10. Creek would miss two technical free throws in the second half with his team up just one, but would score five straight points for GW, extending the team’s permanent lead to six.

That’s the type of resilience that good players and good teams show – and that’s the type of team the Colonials showed they are Wednesday.

Guards Maurice Watson Jr. and D.J. Irving would lead BU’s attack, finishing with 12 and 23 points, respectively. Watson would also tally six assists.

The Terriers shot 3-6 from beyond the arc in the first, led by forward Dom Morris who drained two threes and went into the break with eight points. He would finish the game, though, with just ten.

On defense, the speed of the Terriers was just as lethal in the first half. The GW offense struggled to move the ball, recording just five assists in the first half – zero coming from McDonald. The BU guards stopped any chance of penetration from GW’s backcourt and were able to get out quickly on the Colonial shooters.

GW will now have 10 days off with finals season in full swing, facing UMBC next at home on Dec. 21.

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