Shaking off the defeat at Dayton like a bad dream, the Colonials dispatched Duquesne as easily as a freshman blows off their alarm clock before an 8 a.m. class.
On Wednesday night, the visiting Dukes were the ones who wished they could have stayed home and hit the snooze button, as GW cruised to a 71-57 victory.
Sophomore swingman Patricio Garino led the Colonials in scoring and senior forward Isaiah Armwood collected another double-double, but GW did not rely on just one dominant performer.
Close examination of the stat sheet revealed that, yet again, the Colonials’ balanced scoring attack was the reason for Foggy Bottom celebrations. Balanced in scoring and passing, as GW had 23 assists on 26 made field goals.
Guard Joe McDonald, back in the Colonials’ starting lineup after a one-game hiatus due to injury, proved to be the calming influence the offense was missing Saturday in Ohio. McDonald’s workmanlike performance of six rebounds and six assists in 26 minutes meant a return of the drama-free Smith Center victory.
On the flip side, the return of graduate senior guard Maurice Creek did not go so smoothly. Creek didn’t look anything like himself in the game or during pregame warm-ups. His jumper was flat and he went field goal-less on five attempts, managing just one point. Add four turnovers on several loose passes, and it made for a return Creek would like to soon forget.
But if we’ve found out one thing this season, it’s that the strength of head coach Mike Lonergan’s squad is not found in a single player or the top performer du jour. This team is defined by their ability to maintain balance, with a few players hitting their peak as others begin a period of struggle.
It was Nemanja Mikic’s turn to shake off some rust and knock down a few three pointers Wednesday. While the senior forward wasn’t outstanding from behind the arc (3-8), he shot the ball with conviction and was able to repeat his shooting motion on every jumper. Consistent form and decisiveness are signs of the senior’s growing confidence.
Confidence is never in short supply for sophomore Kevin Larsen. The forward continued his good run of form with a quiet 13-point (6-9 shooting) and seven-rebound performance. Larsen has showed his exceptional versatility this season and this time he played the role of provider, tallying four assists.
Larsen’s performance was especially silent compared to that of Duquesne forward Ovie Soko. Just as I predicted, Soko got to the line more than a half dozen times and became the sole target of the crowd’s contempt. Judging by the number of taunts one alumnus who sat behind me tossed in Soko’s direction, I am sure Alka-Seltzer will be required.
Soko provided the game’s top highlight: a colossal tomahawk slam-dunk that caused a slight delay to repair the basket. As immense as the dunk was, it was a mere blip on the radar. The Colonials’ 1-3-1 zone completely baffled the Dukes’ attack and helped hold Soko five points under his season average, despite his 13 free throw attempts.
As the buzzer sounded at Smith Center, Soko and his teammates were the ones searching for a cure for indigestion rather than the once hungry crowd on Dollar Dog Night.
With an 18-4 record (6-2 in the A-10), Lonergan and the Colonials will sleep easy – dreaming of new ways to keep their offensive balance and suffocating 1-3-1 defense for Saturday’s homecoming matchup against lowly Fordham.
As the season enters its final stanza, GW is in a prime position to charge into postseason play for the first time in many years.
Ben Krimmel, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.