With 32.5 seconds remaining in Monday night’s contest, men’s basketball had possession of the ball, trailing Rider by two points.
The play eventually found graduate student forward Patrick Steeves at the top of the key. With his back to the basket, he was smothered by Broncs defenders and turned the ball over on GW’s last good opportunity.
In the final second, sophomore guard Jair Bolden heaved up a desperation shot, but the attempt missed and Rider (3-1) came away with a 67–65 victory – the Colonials’ (2-2) first home loss of the year.
“It was a tough way to lose, but we didn’t lose the game on that play,” head coach Maurice Joseph said. “It is a culmination of things that a young team needs to learn.”
The Colonials ended the night shooting 44.3 percent from the field on 27 made shots. Steeves led the offensive effort with 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting and senior guard Yuta Watanabe added a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
With the stat sheets nearly identical at the end of the game, Joseph said it was Rider’s 17 offensive rebounds that gave the Broncs the extra scoring opportunities.
“They got eight extra shots than us,” Joseph said. “They were hungry to get those extra possessions in times where we needed to get them. A culmination of those things across a 40 minute game will add up and cost you in the end.”
Watanabe opened the night with a dunk to get GW on the board first. Rider responded with a 7-0 run, taking a 15–13 lead with 11:25 left in the first half.
The Broncs held a 18–17 advantage around the nine-minute mark, but neither team was able to establish much control.
Steeves attempted to float a pass over the Rider defense from the top of the perimeter to Watanabe, who was waiting in the key. The pass was stolen, sending the Colonials racing to their defensive end, where Rider was unable to capitalize on the opportunity to score.
When the Broncs returned to their attacking side on a following possession, they had difficulty sinking a shot, but continued to grab their misses. Rider tallied five offensive rebounds in one possession that was finished off with a layup to give the team a 20–17 advantage.
“If that happens, even if we are shooting better, we are not going to win,” Watanabe said. “So we just have to understand and learn from it.”
Right before the four-minute mark, freshman guard Terry Nolan Jr. stole a pass from Rider and drove to the rim, making the layup and getting a foul.
Nolan completed the and-one play but was assessed a technical foul for taunting, sending Rider to the free-throw line and cutting GW’s lead to two.
“Getting technical foul as a freshman who is aggressive, excited and hotheaded a little bit and flexes and gets a technical foul in a two-point game – that’s costly,” Joseph said.
With one second left on the clock, Riders’ sophomore guard Stevie Jordan drove to the basket and tied the game 32–32 heading into the locker room.
GW opened the second half with a three from Bolden, but the lead was short-lived. Both teams went back and forth on the floor, but the Colonials committed four fouls in the first five minutes of the half, allowing the Broncs to take a four-point lead.
Less than two minutes later, key plays from Steeves under the hoop regained GW’s advantage. The Colonials continued growing their momentum halfway through the second half, going on a 6-0 run. A dunk from sophomore guard Justin Williams pushed the lead to 53–46.
Rider remained in the game after hitting back-to-back threes. After the second Broncs shot from behind the arc, Watanabe sank his first and only three of the night to tie the game at 60 with just over four minutes left in the game.
After Rider led for more than two minutes, a jump hook from Steeves tied the game at 65 with 59.3 seconds left on the game clock.
Broncs freshman forward Frederick Scott hit the eventual game-winning field goal with 36 seconds to go.
“A tough lesson for our team to learn, but we have to learn and grow from it,” Joseph said. “We have to get better, it is plain and simple.”
The Colonials return to action Thursday at 5 p.m. when they play No. 15 Xavier in GW’s third game of the Las Vegas Invitational and the first of two at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.