Carrying three consecutive wins, men’s basketball was unable to stop Duquesne from getting what they wanted offensively.
In Pittsburg Wednesday, the Dukes shot 10.8 percent better from the field and led from the first basket to the last during the second day of Atlantic 10 action.
The Colonials (8-7, 1-1 A-10) lost 69–52, allowing Duquesne (11-4, 2-0 A-10) to halt them at just about every run they looked to mount.
“We allowed them to break us down and get their feet in the paint,” head coach Maurice Joseph said. “They scored at will getting the ball in the paint and it caused a world of trouble for us. We can’t have that happen.”
The loss snaps GW’s five-game winning streak against the Dukes and moves the Colonials to 0-5 in games outside of D.C.
Although he wasn’t concerned about his squad’s road results, Joseph said they had to start winning away games if they were going to accomplish their goals.
For a large part of the contest, the Colonials remained within a couple baskets. But they struggled to hit shots at the right time or play strong enough defense to hold Duquesne to a lower total. Starting guards freshman Terry Nolan Jr. and sophomore Jair Bolden scored a combined 7 points on 16.7 percent shooting.
“They didn’t play great, we just defended poorly,” Joseph said. “Our starting backcourt is 3-for-18, so if we are not going to score and shoot well, we have to make up for that by getting stops.”
GW’s 37.5 percent clip as a team is its third lowest of the year. In every game that the Colonials have shot below 40 percent, they have lost. Much of their offensive success came from senior guard Yuta Watanabe and graduate student forward Patrick Steeves, who scored 15 and 14 points respectively.
Despite scoring challenges, Joseph said he was satisfied with his team’s offensive flow and the team’s consistent ability to find the open man.
“We got some looks, we ran some stuff that we knew was going to work and got some wide open shots,” Joseph said. “A lot of them just did not fall which is unfortunate.”
Steeves said this game reminded him of GW’s loss to Penn State. In December, the Colonials fell to the Nittany Lions by 20 points – also snapping a three-game win streak.
“Our energy was the same as that game in terms of defending and just making tough plays,” Steeves said. “I don’t know what it is but we have to learn how to handle success”
The Dukes were led offensively by freshman guard Eric Williams Jr. He scored a game-high 21 points and shot 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. Graduate student guard Rene Castro-Caneddy also added 12 points and five assists.
When GW hosts Duquesne on Jan. 31, Joseph said he is enthusiastic about their chance for revenge – now with the added knowledge about Williams’ game.
“What I am excited about is to see what kind of competitive spirit our guys have,” Joseph said. “For these guys we get a rebuttal, and any time you get that you should be salivating at the mouth.”
The Colonials missed their first three shots and made only two of their first 11, while the Dukes took a multiple possession lead early in the contest.
After starting the game with two consecutive threes, Duquesne took command of the paint for the next several minutes. The Dukes finished with a 12-point advantage in the paint and returned to the inside shot throughout the game whenever they had a hiccup.
Both sides began scoring at a decent rate with Bolden and Watanabe hitting contested jump shots, but the Colonials remained four to seven points behind for a large part of the first half.
The Dukes led by as many as 11 points after a 9-1 run that included a three-pointer from Castro-Caneddy. But in the last five minutes, the Colonials tinkered with a 1-3-1 zone that caused the Dukes some problems.
GW did not allow any points for the final 3:07 of the first half as baskets from Watanabe and graduate student guard Bo Zeigler brought the Duquesne advantage to 34–29 at the break.
Watanabe asserted himself – getting to the rim multiple times to start the second half – and Steeves demonstrated his scoring touch with a couple hook shots and a three to continue the Colonials’ momentum. GW trailed by just four points with less than 14 minutes to play, but they quickly fell out of contention.
The Dukes went on a 19-5 run over the next 11 minutes and followed each Colonials basket with a score on the next possession.
Duquesne led by as many as 19 points and Joseph began to sub his reserves in during the final three minutes.
The Colonials return to the Smith Center Saturday for a 4 p.m. game against Rhode Island (9-3, 1-0 A-10).