Forget comebacks. Call GW the bounceback kids.
The Colonials’ 73-55 win against Georgia on Friday was the second time this season that head coach Mike Lonergan’s team has rebounded from a bad loss with a statement win.
Behind 18 points from guard Kethan Savage, the Colonials (12-2) rolled to another victory that transformed from a grind-it-out first half to a highlight-reel second half.
GW’s balanced offensive attack waltzed around Georgia (6-6) defenders, made possible by seven rebounds from forward Isaiah Armwood, and six apiece by sophomore Patricio Garino and Savage.
But the Colonials found offensive success without sharp three-point shooting. The Colonials went just 3-15 from behind the arc all night, with Creek only hitting one of seven. Creek finished with 15 points, three rebounds and four assists.
“When the ball isn’t falling, you have to make plays somewhere else,” Creek said.
That ability to adapt separates this year’s GW team from last year’s, which only had 13 wins the entire year – one more than the Colonials have already racked up.
Lonergan said while the team’s poor three-point shooting helped bring down GW last year, the team’s new ingredients – matured sophomores, solid rebounding and a versatile Creek – now creates a winning mixture.
“We didn’t shoot well from the outside last year, we were last in the league in three-point shooting,” Lonergan said. “But this year, we find ways to score. Even when our shooting isn’t going well, we find ways.”
They’ve also found ways to win after tough losses.
In November, GW’s upset win over Creighton made fans forget about the previous loss to Marquette. Friday, the toppling of the Bulldogs made GW’s New Year’s Eve defeat at Kansas State a distant memory.
“I tried to catch a flight out of there that night because I didn’t want to be around the guys because I’m a bad loser,” Lonergan said. “But we did watch some of the film that night, New Year’s Eve, so it probably wasn’t a very happy new year’s eve for everyone.”
Lonergan said GW’s zone defense eventually clicked as Georgia’s offense went cold. The Bulldogs also counted 20 turnovers, which led to several fast-breaks and highlight reel dunks in the second half. GW turned the ball over only 10 times.
The Smith Center crowd totaled 3,063, with fans brought to their feet late in the second half after forward Kevin Larsen saved Savage’s cross-court pass from going out of bounds, tipping it back to Garino for the layup. On the next possession, Larsen added a huge dunk.
In the first half, GW was able to take advantage of a very cold Charles Mann, the Georgia guard who went 3-10 from the field that half, and finished with 11 points overall. Sophomore forward Cameron Forte was Georgia’s standout, adding 14 points and eight rebounds.
Just like against Kansas State, the Colonials’ bench gave its starters a breather, but not much else. Only Garino managed to score in the first half, with Cartagena airballing a wide-open three point shot and Mikic missing two from behind the arc.
Those misses created a first half that left GW’s head coach unimpressed with the team’s performance. “I was disappointed because I didn’t think we played with enough energy,” he said.
But he didn’t scream in the locker room at halftime, he said. The Colonials just needed to get their balance back, just like they’ve done all year.
GW starts Atlantic 10 play Thursday at La Salle (6-6) in Philadelphia.