It was 41 degrees and cloudy Saturday afternoon in the District, with light showers, winds from the southwest, and torrential downpour 3-pointers in the Smith Center.
The Colonials rained down 12 threes in a Homecoming beatdown of Duquesne on their way to a 74-59 victory.
Patricio Garino scored a game-high 20 points, Joe McDonald added 16, rookie Paul Jorgensen added a career-high 13 and Kethan Savage had a career-high eight of GW’s 17 assists on a night when guard play did it all for GW.
“We knew we would get open shots around the wings, but we also just talked about not settling,” McDonald said. “Kethan did a great job shooting the ball.”
GW hit four assisted 3-pointers to open the game. McDonald found Savage for the first, then Savage returned the favor twice, then McDonald stayed in the giving spirit with a dish to Nick Griffin who also hit for three.
Then Griffin put the Colonials up 15-9 with their fifth consecutive triple, this time doing it all by himself.
“They were going to pack it in which they did,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “Kethan and Joe shot well and they gave us open shots. We’ve been shooting better lately but you’re at home and you’ve got wide open threes and you’ve got to knock it down. We made more than I expected.”
Duquesne set in its two-three zone, and the Colonials, finding it unnecessary to bother trying to penetrate it, went up 18-9 with their sixth three in a row, this time from Jorgensen.
Jorgensen, for variety’s sake if nothing else, hit a reverse layup on the next possession after GW got numbers up ahead off a steal by Savage. Despite scoring just 24 of their points in the paint on a night when Kevin Larsen and John Kopriva scored a combined four points, GW shot 48.1 percent for the game while Duquense shot 44 percent.
Still, the first half was a defensive beatdown above all. GW doubled-up Duquesne 40-18 in the first half where they took 60 percent of the shot attempts.
“We played really good man-to-man defense. Patricio is a terrific defender. We put Joe on [Derrick] Colter and we put Kethan on [Micah] Mason, and then we put Patricio to be able to help off, usually he guards the best player but today I wanted him to be able to be our help guy so we made them take some bad shots, some contested shots,” Lonergan said.
The second half began just like the first, a top-of-the-key three by McDonald, followed up by a McDonald-assisted three from Savage.
But the rest of the second half wasn’t as dominant, though it didn’t matter as GW enjoyed a 36 point lead with 13 minutes to go, the Colonials were outscored 41-34 and held without a field goal for nearly eight minutes.
“It was disappointing at the end but I told them in the locker room, that’s why some of the guys don’t play a lot,” Lonergan said. “Five years ago I would have left here in a bad mood but I get the bigger picture now.”
Colter found some looks against the man-defense to score nine of his 12 points in the second half. He was the only player for the Dukes to finish in double figures, though he got some help from the Duquesne bench that outscored GW’s reserves 30-25.
Sixth man Yuta Watanabe checked in at the first changing of the guard for Lonergan, the familiar “Yu-ta, Yu-ta, Yu-ta” resonating in the Smith Center with some extra emphasis after Watanabe sprained his ankle in GW’s last game against Fordham. Watanabe was limited to 15 minutes and three points and Lonergan said that he wasn’t 100 percent for the game.
But without Watanabe, the energetic Jorgensen had a breakout game. He broke the scoring drought with a layup with 2:10 remaining, and forty seconds later he was joined on the court by fellow rookies Darian Bryant, Matt Cimino and Anthony Swan and junior Ryan McCoy to close out the game. Duquesne had finally reached the fifty-point mark, but the faint smell of Red Auerbach’s cigar smoke seemed to have joined the Homecoming crowd in the Smith Center, where the Colonials have an unblemished record this season.
“I think we’ve played more focused now, we’ve focused on defense and we’re obviously making more shots. Our confidence is up.,” Garino said. “Away I think we’ve stayed a little more calm and used the experience we had to win the games.”
Momentum, experience and anything else will be welcome for the Colonials as they head on the road Tuesday for a 7 p.m. matchup at No. 16 VCU.