Men’s basketball allowed its lead over Hampton to drop to a two-possession game after just over a minute of second half action Saturday afternoon.
The Colonials then went on an 8-0 run during a nearly five-minute stretch and recaptured the control of the game with a 13-point cushion.
GW (2-1) led by double-digits for 14 of the contest’s final 15 minutes and defeated the Pirates (1-3) 65–57 at the Smith Center.
“I thought we did a much better job in the second half,” head coach Maurice Joseph said. “The next step in our development as a team is how to handle success within the game. How to not make bonehead plays when we’re up and makes plays because we feel comfortable with.”
The Colonials were led in scoring by graduate student forward Patrick Steeves and sophomore guard Jair Bolden, who combined for 27 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
“We just, ran a lot of offense from the post, not necessarily trying to get to the basket,” Steeves said. “If they’re not doubling, then I’ll probably have a hook shot. If not I try to distribute to guys for open shots.”
Senior guard Yuta Watanabe, who came into the game averaging 16.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, finished with five points and five rebounds on just 1-of-9 shooting from the field.
Sophomore guard Justin Williams scored a career-high nine points in 4-of-5 shooting in his 19 minutes of action. Before Saturday, he scored only four points in his entire collegiate career. On both sides of the floor he looked comfortable, despite his lack of playing time in the past.
“He’s been practicing well and it’s not about points really, it’s about competitive spirit, your grit, your toughness,” Joseph said. “I told him a couple days ago in practice that ‘you’ve earned it, you earned a chance to play,’ and credit to him, he came out and he played really well.”
Neither side found the touch from behind the arc. GW shot a 5-for-19 clip and Hampton made just 2 of its 12 attempts from three-point range.
The Pirates relied on their leading scorer – sophomore guard Jermaine Morrow – to keep the game close. He scored 25 points on the day – 18 more than anyone else on Hampton.
“He’s going to make some baskets, he made some tough ones, I give him credit he’s a heck of a player,” Joseph said. “We tried to impede his progress with the ball screen, trying switching was a lot better because we were able to control our own gaps as opposed to getting kind of contorted in our shell principles.”
The game’s first score came off of a jump hook from Steeves. The advantage did not last long as a Hampton layup on the next possession tied the game up.
The two sides traded baskets twice more in the next three minutes, but after a block from freshman guard Terry Nolan Jr. on the defensive end, sophomore forward Arnaldo Toro finished a three-point play and gave GW a 9–6 advantage.
The Pirates took their first lead of the game in less than seven minutes into the contest after a jumper from junior guard Kalin Fisher brought them up by one.
Coming out of the second media timeout, Hampton immediately scored a layup and took a three-point lead. Consecutive baskets from Bolden and freshman guard Justin Mazzulla regained the lead for the Colonials, but two Hampton baskets in the paint flipped the script within a minute.
A three-pointer from Nolan knotted the game at 40 while a fast break layup from Williams gave GW a lead – one they would maintain for the rest of the outing.
In the final four minutes of the first half, the Colonials went on an 8-2 run including threes from Bolden and Williams to take GW’s lead to 38-32 heading into the break.
The second half began with more traded baskets, but an 11-2 run from the Colonials including the only field goal of the game from Watanabe allowed them to pull ahead by 16.
With less than eight minutes on the game clock, baskets from Bolden and Toro moved the score to 61–43 – the largest lead throughout the game.
Offensive prowess from Hampton – particularly from Marrow – cut the game’s margin down to eight points with less than two minutes to play. But the time expired before the Pirates could alter the outcome.
The Colonials return to action back at the Smith Center Monday when they host Rider (2-1) at 7 p.m.