Men’s basketball could not hold on against No. 18 Michigan in the semifinal of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament Saturday.
The Colonials (0–4) came out strong and outscored the Wolverines 30–24 in the paint, but were decimated from beyond the arc, allowing Michigan (4–0) to go 15-for-30 from the three-point line to take the game 84–61 in Uncasville, Conn.
“They really shot the lights out from that three-point line,” head coach Maurice Joseph said. “And we were hoping to keep them out of that paint.”
This is the first time since the 1988-89 season GW has lost its first four games of the season.
Redshirt junior guard DJ Williams led the Colonials in scoring for the second game in a row, picking up 16 points on a 7-for-16 clip while grabbing five rebounds. Junior forward Arnaldo Toro was one rebound shy of a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds on the day.
An athletic department spokesman declined to provide interviews with athletes postgame, citing a department policy.
The Wolverines were led by two performances that garnered more than 20 points by senior guard Charles Matthews with 25 points and sophomore guard Jordan Poole with 22.
Michigan ended the game shooting 50 percent from the field while holding GW to 39.1 percent shooting.
Both teams opened the match trading baskets, with Toro answering a jumper by Poole with a layup of his own to tie the game 2–2. Matthews went on a 4–0 run to pull ahead 6–2, and a three-point shot by sophomore guard Terry Nolan Jr. put GW within one of the lead.
But the Wolverines cracked open a 14–3 run off a three-point shot by Poole and then hit three consecutive three-point shots to pull ahead 20–8 with 13 minutes left in the half.
“We did an OK job for the most part getting some of the shots we wanted,” Joseph said. “We just couldn’t get the stops.”
Another layup by Toro interrupted Michigan’s scoring run, but Matthews went on a 6–0 run by himself. A layup by junior guard Zavier Simpson – his first two of 14 points on the day – extended the Wolverines’ lead 28–10 midway through the first frame.
The Colonials did not go down without a fight in the final 10 minutes of the half. Back-to-back buckets by Toro spurred a 14–2 run in GW’s favor. Williams got on the scoreboard for the first time on the day burying a mid-range jumper in the paint to build off Toro’s points.
Williams picked up 10 of GW’s final 12 points in the frame to put GW within striking distance of the lead 30–24 with three minutes left in the half.
Michigan closed out the frame with a 5–0 run but a layup by freshman forward Mezie Offurum kept the Wolverines’ lead to single-digits and sent GW into the locker room trailing 35–26.
“We did some really good things at the end of the first half, closed the gap there,” Joseph said. “They’re a very talented club, we played hard, we executed, we made some shots, we executed the game plan.”
At the half, the Colonials were 11-for-30 from the field while keeping Michigan close at 12-for-26 shooting. The Wolverines were out-rebounding GW 19–15 under the glass and made five three-point shots to GW’s three.
But from the start of the final frame, the Wolverines stifled any momentum the Colonials had and went on a 26–9 run fueled by hot three-point shooting.
Michigan picked up eight fast points, including two three-point shots by Matthews and Simpson, to evaporate GW’s single-digit deficit and kick off the second frame up 43–26. Jump shots by Toro and Williams – plus a three-point shot by Toro – narrowed Michigan’s lead 50–33 but Poole hit three consecutive three-point shots to make the game a runaway with a score of 61–35.
“We didn’t make enough shots in the second half to keep them at bay and we didn’t do a good enough job in transition defense,” Joseph said. “So a combination of those things plus some other things led to the game getting out of hand.”
Williams and sophomore guard Justin Mazzulla picked up four points in response to Poole’s threes, but another two-straight threes from sophomore forward Isaiah Livers and Simpson and a dunk by Matthews put the Wolverines up 71–39 with nine minutes left in play. The Colonials allowed Michigan to pick up two more threes in the half.
GW’s bench, mainly junior guards Justin Williams and Adam Mitola and sophomore forward Javier Langarica, closed out the game on a 16–3 run against Michigan’s bench, but their effort was too little too late.
“The three line really hurt us today and, I’ll be honest, that’s not something we expected and we didn’t do a good enough job adjusting to that,” Joseph said.
The Colonials return to action at 4 p.m. Sunday to take on loser of the South Carolina/Providence game.