Men’s basketball earned its second-consecutive victory of the season Sunday night, defeating Rutgers on the road 70-53.
Junior guards Kethan Savage, Joe McDonald and forward Patricio Garino all scored in double-digits, despite a team shooting percentage of 40.6, to edge a Scarlet Knights team that struggled all night on offense.
Savage managed his first career double-double as he recorded a team-high 18 points and 11 rebounds, followed by McDonald who totaled 15 points and nine rebounds en route to a 17-point Colonials victory.
“I made a lot of mistakes tonight – I was forcing it a lot,” Savage said. “But when I went back in I calmed myself down … playing hard made up for a lot of that.”
Both teams had difficulties scoring from the field in the first half, with the Colonials shooting just 33.3 percent to the Knights’ 20.7. Savage led GW offensively, totaling 10 points in the first frame, while Kevin Larsen dominated the boards with six rebounds to give GW a 33-21 lead going into halftime.
Head Coach Mike Lonergan also used the first half to give all five GW freshmen time on the court. Freshman Yuta Watanabe came off the bench for senior John Kopriva early in the half and went on to play 17 minutes, totaling eight points and going to 2-3 from beyond the arc.
“Nick Griffin and Yuta Watanabe are our two best three-point shooters,” Lonergan said. “We’re going to have to develop a bench … I thought Yuta did really well while other guys were struggling a little bit.”
Garino, who led the Colonials with 21 points in the team’s season opener Friday, tallied only four points in the first and went 0-3 from three-point range, but picked up his game in the second half to finish with 10 points and four rebounds on the night.
Larsen led the team in rebounds coming into the game, but struggled to make space and get open inside, only managing seven points and two offensive rebounds.
“[Rutgers] did a good job fronting him but [Larsen’s] got to work a little bit more … we’re really trying to go to him,” Lonergan said.
The Scarlet Knights were without star senior forward Kadeem Jack, who had a lingering thumb injury. The 6-foot-9 team co-captain was sorely missed on offense as Rutgers shot 35 percent from the field.
With Jack out, the Colonials’ defense was able to shut down their Big Ten opponent, out-rebounding Rutgers 45-37 on the night. GW was also able to play clean all game, turning the ball over just nine times to Rutgers’ 16.
GW also improved its free-throw shooting on the road, going 70.6 percent from line, compared to its 60.7 percentage against Grambling State last week.
“Anytime you get a road win it’s nice, but I wish we shot the ball a little bit better,” Lonergan said. “I thought Rutgers did a good job at stopping us from scoring inside, but I’m happy we got a win. And now we have some time to prepare for Virginia.”
The Colonials will continue a two-game road stretch in Charlottesville, Va., where they will take on No. 9 Virginia on Friday night.