The odds were stacked against men’s basketball heading into Wednesday night’s matchup against Towson.
The Colonials faced the Tigers with seven losses to their name and two starters on the bench with injury.
GW (2-7) led by as many as 13 points before the Tigers (2-6) clawed their way back into the game, forcing the Colonials to chase the lead through much of the second half. But breakout performances by sophomore guard Terry Nolan Jr. and sophomore forward Javier Langarica paired with scoring spurts at crucial moments helped the Colonials come out on top with a 68–64 victory, their second win of the season.
Head coach Maurice Joseph said if the teams had met two weeks ago, the final score would most likely have favored Towson.
“I told our guys in there ‘our team two weeks ago, we’d probably lose this game,’ because we hadn’t been through enough, we hadn’t been calloused enough,” Joseph said.
The Colonials were without redshirt junior guard Armel Potter and junior forward Arnaldo Toro – two of the team’s starters – for the second game in a row, but they managed to piece together a 50 percent shooting night on a 21-for-42 clip.
Nolan turned in a career-high 24 points, including a 4-for-9 showing from the three-point line. He was limited to eight points in the first frame after passing up open shots before tripling his point total in the second half.
“I just felt like I had the hot hand tonight,” Nolan said.
Langarica earned his first start of season and ended the night with eight points and two rebounds to his name, including a crucial board with 15 seconds remaining to secure GW’s victory.
He matched up against Townson’s aggressive frontcourt and held his own during psychically combative spells in the paint. Joseph said Langarica’s effort shows the fruits of his labor in the offseason, working to handle larger opponents.
“Thats the price of winning. He’s in there looking like he fought Mike Tyson, he has stitches on his face, he has a dislocated finger, he has blood all over his jersey,” Joseph said. “I am proud of him.”
Redshirt junior guard DJ Williams rounded out the scoring with a season-high 19 points in the win.
“All wins are great and all wins are important,” Joseph said. “But for us it is a positive sign that we are becoming more resilient and that we are not wavering.”
The Colonials sped out to a 13–2 lead in the opening five minutes of the game after sophomore guard Maceo Jack sank his first of two three-point shots on the night to get GW on the scoreboard first.
GW continued on an 8–2 run, led by Williams and Langarica, to hold the Tigers to single-digit scoring through the first nine minutes of the game.
A three-point shot by Nolan put the Colonials ahead 31–19, but four unanswered points by Towson redshirt junior forward Nakye Sanders cut GW’s lead to eight points with about six minutes left in the half.
Williams answered back with a jump to pull the Colonials up 33–23 with 6:20 to go before halftime, but a three-point shot by Towson junior guard Brian Fobbs – who ended the night with a team-high 17 points – shifted the momentum in the Tigers’ favor.
The Tigers picked up four more unanswered points and sent the Colonials into the locker room on the short end of a 14–4 run to close out the half still leading 35–33.
“We knew they had the momentum, but we knew we had to come out and still compete,” Williams said. “We wanted to not only match their energy, but go over the top with it.”
GW opened the second frame with a four-point scoring run, but a transition three by Towson sliced the differential to one. An elbow jumper by Sanders put the Tigers up 40–39 for the first time on the night with about 17 minutes to play.
The Tigers picked up four more unanswered points to grow their lead before three free throws by Nolan cut Towson’s lead to one.
Following traded baskets, the Colonials hit a dry spell and a 9–2 run propelled the Tigers to their largest lead of the night, 52–45.
GW hit back with steady offensive production spurred by a 5–0 run by Williams. The Colonials started matching the Tigers point for point and with 6:46 left in the game, Jack drained a three-point shot to earn back the advantage on the scoreboard.
GW was failed to pull away, but two late three-point shots by Nolan helped get the Colonials over the hump and grab the win.
“They weathered the storm,” Joseph said. “We went into the half up two, so we are still in great position, but they had some momentum and we just kept on battling and battling. I am proud of our guys for how they played against a tough, physical team.”
The Colonials return to action Saturday at 4 p.m. when they host Valparaiso.