Kevin Larsen pulled the Colonials within one with the chance to tie on an extra point. He missed, but grabbed a rebound on the other end after Richmond’s Kendall Anthony missed and saved a nearly lost ball by Patricio Garino.
It was a good thing he did for the Colonials, as Joe McDonald then put GW up by two with a corner three.
“They switched and I had [TJ] Cline, kind of stepped out and he kind of backed off, so I got a lot of confidence and I had coach saying shoot it as well,” McDonald said. “I’m glad it went in though.”
His teammates were glad, too. GW never lost the lead, topping Richmond 73-70 in double overtime Thursday.
And while McDonald took the big shot, the Colonials were spurred by a 43-24 mark off the boards, a 19-0 margin in second-chance points and Larsen’s career-high 22 points and 11 rebounds, just a game after he scored zero at La Salle.
“At La Salle, I tried to do too much instead of letting the game come to me, instead of when I just play with the flow, and that’s what I did tonight,” said Larsen, who compared himself to the NBA’s Dwight Howard and Josh Smith as a player who sometimes forces his game.
The Colonials (13-4, 3-1 A-10) had led by as many as 12 points five minutes into the second half, controlling the inside after holding the Spiders (9-8, 2-2 A-10) to just 17 points in the first half on 28.6 percent shooting.
But after GW’s largest lead of the game, Richmond hit three straight 3-pointers – just as the Spiders had done to open the game – and pulled within a possession at 33-30.
They went back and forth, Richmond cutting and setting screens to counteract GW’s size advantage. The Colonials had a three-point lead in the final seconds until they fouled Anthony shooting three, giving the Spiders’ leading scorer the chance to tie with 3.7 seconds left.
“For whatever reason, we backed off of him and then we reached in and that was a smart play by him,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “I’ll take the blame for it, we were definitely going to foul.”
Anthony finished with 20 points, followed by Cline with 16 points and six rebounds. With a series of cuts to the basket, Anthony almost singlehandedly closed the gap in points in the paint from 22-10 at the end of regulation to 28-22, still in GW’s favor.
“I really want to give Patricio [Garino] credit. I thought for maybe 35 minutes … he did a great job on Anthony,” Lonergan said. “I guess we got tired and then he started doing what he does best in getting to the right side and getting to the rim. He’s so quick and for his size. He finishes.”
Anthony stood at the line, the Smith Center rocked with taunts and cheers, drowning out the sound of each of his shots swishing through the net to take the game to overtime.
Anthony scored four points in the first overtime period, and GW was perfect on four free throws, including two from Savage to tie the game at 58. George Washington’s hatchet could have cut the tension in the air as Savage set up before making his second. GW finished 24-29 from the line, where Savage got nine of his 13 points in just 10 attempts.
Richmond got one more possession. The buzzer sounded with the scoreboard indicating a tie yet again, but there was confusion over whether GW had fouled going down the court. After a couple minutes of arguing and mild impropriety from the Colonial Army, the verdict was decided: no foul and double overtime.
“They were definitely going to video, so I was saying my prayers,” Lonergan said.
Richmond started to foul after McDonald took the lead. The Spiders kept close and drove up the score as Anthony became a one-man scoring machine.
Time ran out in a roaring Smith Center experiencing its first overtime since March 2013, and the Colonials got the win.
GW returns to the Smith Center on Saturday for a 4:30 p.m. matchup with Revolutionary Rivalry foe George Mason.