GW’s matchup Saturday against Massachusetts may be the biggest game between the two in almost 20 years – but it will need some extra fireworks to hold up against the teams’ classic ‘90s matchups.
Feb 4. 1995 is a date engraved in every long-term, diehard GW men’s basketball fan’s memory. Here’s a look back:
After being the No. 1-ranked team in the nation for almost five weeks, head coach John Calipari and the Minutemen entered the Smith Center having won 16 straight games. UMass contained a slew of top players, led by 6 foot 11 sophomore center Marcus Camby. Camby, who would eventually be named the Naismith Player of the Year in the 1995-96 season, would go on to have a 17-year career in the NBA.
While UMass entered the game with a record of 17-1, GW was 13-8 under head coach Mike Jarvis. But the Colonials were confident after having defeated the Minutemen 77-66 at the Smith Center the season prior when UMass carried a No. 11 ranking. And thankfully for GW, Camby was sidelined for the February matchup due to injury.
GW fans would pack the sold-out Smith Center: The game was played in front of 5,020 fans, but none more important than two of GW’s close neighbors. President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea sat just above the baseline.
The game was a close one throughout. After GW took a six-point lead into halftime, the Minutemen would not go down easily, outscoring the Colonials in the second half.
But it wouldn’t be enough. Behind a game-high 27 points from recent GW Hall of Fame inductee Kwame Evans, the Colonials upset the No. 1 team in the nation 78-75, complete with a court-storm and a standing ovation from the Clintons.
UMass would finish the season 29-5 and make it all the way to the NCAA Elite Eight. GW would finish at 18-14, second to the Minutemen in the A-10 regular season standings. The Colonials would be eliminated in the first round of the NIT by Ohio.
For all the naysayers who believe GW got lucky on that Saturday night in 1995, the Colonials would go on to defeat UMass again just 10 days later with Marcus Camby on the floor. GW handed the Minutemen their first ever loss at the Mullins Center by a slim margin of 80-78. The following season, GW would once again upset a No. 1 UMass team on the road, 86-76.
Flash-forward to 2014, and while we’re not looking at an upset of the No.1 team in the country, there is still plenty at stake for GW. The Colonials will look to extend their season home record to 13-0, as well as avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time this season after a loss to VCU Wednesday. It will also be a crucial conference matchup as both teams are vying for a top spot in the conference standings before the Atlantic 10 tournament comes around in March.
The Colonials will take on the Minutemen Saturday at 2 p.m.