Preview: Men’s basketball vs. Towson

Media Credit: File Photo by Madeleine Cook | Senior Staff Photographer

Redshirt junior DJ Williams moves around a defender in a game against Vermont last week. Williams could be the Colonials' leading rebounder on the floor Wednesday if junior forward Arnaldo Toro stays benched with an injury.

Updated: Dec. 5, 2018 at 1:40 p.m.

Who: Men’s basketball
Where: Smith Center, Washington, D.C.
When: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.

Following a tough road loss Saturday, GW returns to Foggy Bottom Wednesday night for a matchup against Towson.

With five games to go before Atlantic 10 play begins, the Colonials (1–7) have still yet to secure more than one win on the season.

For Wednesday’s game, the team will go up against an unfamiliar opponent in Towson. The night’s meeting marks the first time in nearly eight years the two programs have met. The Colonials captured a narrow 73–67 victory over the Tigers at home in 2010.

While the roster houses new faces, the team has seen some similar competition to the Colonials this season. The Tigers (2–5) faced off against two of the same competitors as GW so far this season – No. 4 Virginia and Vermont – and also lost to both teams, putting the Colonials on an even playing field with their opponent.

Case for the Colonials:

The Colonials have fallen victim to spotty shooting this season – but with the Tigers allowing opponents to shoot 44.2 percent from the field, GW may have the opportunity to get better shot opportunities against a more forgiving defense.

Although Towson put up a good showing against Vermont, it still allowed the Catamounts to shoot an above-average 39.3 percent from the three-point line.

The Colonials have shot for 39.2 percent from the field so far overall this year and have been vulnerable to streaky runs on the floor, but GW has also shown in past games the team is capable of pulling together a high-powered offense.

GW’s core trio of guards – redshirt junior DJ Williams, sophomore Justin Mazzulla and sophomore Terry Nolan, Jr. – will be key factors in setting the course for the Colonials’ shooting if the team can rise to the challenge Wednesday. The three have combined for 31.2 points per game so far this season, but will need to consistently take good looks throughout the entire night for GW to be successful in overcoming the Tigers.

The Colonials also fared better than Towson against nationally ranked Virginia. When Towson played the Cavaliers on Nov. 6, they were downed 73–42, but the Colonials managed a 76–57 effort that included a 40-point second half against the team. Towson failed to rally against a strong Virginia squad, which means GW could have the upper hand if Wednesday’s game is looking like a draw at the half.

GW will face a defense that is slightly more porous than its last two opponents and should be able to take advantage of the Tigers’ give on the court. The Colonials’ best chance at victory will be to get on a solid shooting ground and rev up in the locker room to pull ahead in the second half.

Case for the Tigers:

Towson most recently fell to Vermont – a team that dished out a 16-point loss to GW last month – by six points Friday.

The Tigers trailed the Catamounts by only two points heading into halftime in their contest and managed 22 points in the paint against Vermont. While GW tallied 26 down low against them, 14 of those points belonged to junior forward Arnaldo Toro, who sat out Saturday’s game at Princeton due to injury.

If Toro sits out again Wednesday, Towson could come up victorious. In addition to the lack of point production by the forward, Towson could outpace the Colonials in second chances.

Towson has averaged 35.0 rebounds per game this season – more than GW’s 32.6 – and if Toro sits out, the Tigers will have a hard-to-beat edge over GW on the glass. Redshirt junior forward Dennis Tunstall leads the team in rebounding at 6.3 rebounds per game – 1.3 rebounds more per game than Williams, GW’s second-leading rebounder after Toro.

Towson has also showed offensive promise since a rocky early season that could be difficult for GW to neutralize. Since Towson’s season-opening loss to Virginia, the Tigers have not been held to fewer than 50 points and put up more than 90 points in a Nov. 11 contest against Wesley College.

GW also has been playing without redshirt junior guard Armel Potter for the past two games due to a left ankle injury – marking two starters possibly down for the count. Without a full and healthy GW lineup, the Tigers
could outdo GW in points and rebounds enough to pull ahead and take the contest.

Bottom line:

The teams’ records against Virginia and Vermont show mixed results – although the Colonials stood up stronger against the No. 4 Cavaliers, Towson more recently put up a better fight against Vermont.

If the Colonials are not healthy down the roster for Wednesday, the Tigers will definitely have the edge over GW’s makeshift lineup. Unless GW comes away with their best shooting game of the year, it will be a challenge for the Colonials to come away with a win without two key starters on the floor.

This post has been updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported on one reference that Virginia is ranked No. 5. The Cavaliers are ranked No. 4. We regret this error.

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