It took men’s basketball less than 30 seconds to sink its first shot in GW’s exhibition game against Catholic Sunday.
But despite the early score from sophomore guard Justin Mazzulla, the Colonials struggled to stay in front of their Division III opponent. GW held on for a 69–64 win and held the lead for more than 38 minutes, but the Cardinals remained within striking distance of the Colonials for the entire game.
GW did not secure a double-digit lead until there was just under nine minutes left in the game and allowed the Cardinals to trail as closely as one point.
Head coach Maurice Joseph said the competition from Catholic provided a much-needed “reality check” for his young squad to understand that every team they face off against will be a tough competitor.
“We didn’t deserve to win this game today because we didn’t respect the process enough,” Joseph said.
The Colonials ended the night shooting 40 percent from the field on a 26-for-65 clip. GW went 2-for-16 from beyond the arc and 15-for-32 from the charity stripe. The Cardinals shot 34.4 percent from the field but outshot GW from the perimeter, shooting 32 percent on a 3-for-25 clip.
Redshirt junior guard DJ Williams led the Colonials with 15 points in his GW debut after a year on the sidelines due to NCAA transfer rules. Redshirt junior guard Armel Potter – who also sat out last season due to transfer rules – followed Williams on the leaderboard with 13 points.
“It feels great, had a long year obviously supporting my guys last year, but I mean the time’s here now,” Williams said.
Williams totaled seven rebounds, second behind junior forward Arnaldo Toro, who grabbed 13 rebounds while also tossing in nine points.
Two rookies – forward Mezie Offurum and guard Shandon Brown – combined for three points in 30 minutes off the bench.
“First game is always factors like nervousness a little bit but they got to get used to it,” Toro said. “We need them to play good.”
Freshman center Marcus Littles did not play due to injury.
GW’s perimeter offense lagged and the Colonials finished at 2-for-16 from behind the three-point line. The only made three-pointers belonged to junior guard Adam Mitola and sophomore guard Maceo Jack.
The Colonials also did not fare well from the free-throw line, sinking fewer than half of their shots from the charity stripe and finishing 15-for-32 on the game.
Although GW out-rebounded Catholic overall, the Cardinals won the offensive battle of the boards, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds compared to GW’s 16.
“We got to have more of a sense of urgency on the glass,” Joseph said. “To give up 17 offensive rebounds against anybody is unacceptable.”
GW gave up its early lead after Catholic stormed down the court and put up a three-point shot from the corner, but that would be the only time the Colonials trailed on the day.
Sophomore forward Javier Langarica was key in regaining the lead for the Colonials. Langarica came in off the bench and dropped six points for the Colonials in eight minutes of play in the first half.
Catholic senior guard Jimmy Golazewski hit five points in a row to rip into the Colonials’ lead, leaving the score at 20–16. Golazewski finished with 28 points for the Cardinals on the night.
Jack, who averaged 5.4 points per game last season, came off the bench to hit the first shot from beyond the three-point arc of the night for GW with six minutes remaining in the first half, ending a 0-for-7 drought.
Williams opened the second half for GW with a scoring tear, scoring eight consecutive points for the Colonials to put them ahead 44–38. Driven by Williams’ early burst, the squad earned its first double-digit lead of the night.
The Cardinals closed that gap behind a 6–3 run to end the game, bringing the final score within five.
Joseph said when his team takes on Stony Brook on Nov. 6 for its season opener, they need to “control the controllables,” like free-throw shooting, to improve their play.
“I got what we wanted – a dose of reality – which is always good for me this early in the season because now I can dissect this film and point out to guys that we’re not quite as good as we think we are,” Joseph said.
The Colonials will take on Stony Brook at the Smith Center on Nov. 6 to officially open their season. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.