Men’s basketball was three points away from snatching the lead from Princeton Saturday after the Colonials – who had been trailing since the eighth minute of the first half – sparked a nine-point swing to put GW in position to pull ahead in the second half.
But sophomore forward Javier Langarica, who contributed six points in the offensive turn, spiked the ball into the ground after being called for a foul, elevating his infraction to a technical foul and giving the Tigers crucial extra points and a possession. The turnover squashed GW’s momentum and ultimately led to a 73–52 loss for the Colonials (1–7).
Langarica’s misstep is one example of the struggles GW has faced this season that head coach Maurice Joseph has chalked up to the team’s “youth” and “inexperience.”
“We showed our youth, we showed our inexperience,” Joseph said after the game against Princeton. “And we have to be better than that.”
The Colonials barely pulled out a win against a Division III team in an exhibition to prepare for the season, and blew a 22-point lead in their official opener, red flags that indicated there would be trouble ahead for the Colonials when it came to maintaining leads.
Tally marks in the loss column continued to pile up as the Colonials faced a slew of powerhouse opponents in Virginia, Michigan and South Carolina. The team was belittled to blowout losses, but showed flashes of improvement, including a 40-point second half against Virginia, a strong first half against Michigan and a scoring lead over the Gamecocks in the second frame.
Joseph said the team played “really, really high-quality basketball” for spurts during the three-game stretch and was gaining necessary experience to add wins.
“We have to put a full 40 minutes together playing harder and playing more united,” Joseph said after the team’s loss to South Carolina. “We’re going to learn from this experience – we played three really, really talented teams in a row.”
But even in recent games against teams that closely match GW’s talent like Vermont and Princeton, the same youth and inconsistent play has prevented the team from pulling together a victory.
The Colonials either tied or came within one point of Vermont three times in the second half of the match. But they allowed the Catamounts to get loose on the perimeter and sink four consecutive three-point shots to spur an 18–0 run, and Joseph said the team was not clicking on the defensive end.
“Mostly those threes were tough shots, they were contested,” junior forward Arnaldo Toro said after the game against Vermont. “Lucky for them, they went in and they came on a run and they hit us. We couldn’t come back.”
Joseph cited the same defensive lapses in GW’s struggle against Princeton and, barring the Colonials’ win against Manhattan – a team that has only won one match this year – GW has been unable to charge ahead to win close contests.
In the past few matchups, the Colonials have been without Toro and redshirt junior guard Armel Potter. Toro, the team’s leading rebounder and the most experienced player on the roster this year, and Potter were consistent starters for the team this season, but Toro missed the game against Princeton due to injury and Potter has been out for the last two contests with a left ankle injury.
Joseph said to pull together wins, he will need to see a stronger all-around effort from his squad when it comes to rebounding production. But that feat has been difficult in recent contests without the services of Toro – whose 9.3 average rebounds per game places him far above the next highest producer, redshirt junior guard DJ Williams at 5.0 rebounds per game.
Joseph said although his team hasn’t seen the results they had hoped for to begin the season, he has encouraged them to stick to the game plan.
“You just got to continue defending and stick to the game plan and continue to play hard and we’ll get there,” Joseph said. “We’ll get there. We’re a work in progress.”
The Colonials return to action Wednesday when they host Towson at 7 p.m.