Men’s basketball was down more than a dozen points to George Mason Saturday night when junior guard DJ Williams hit a shot in the paint with 4:10 left to play in the game.
After being down by as many as 15 points in the second half to the Patriots, the Colonials mounted a late-game 8-0 run to get within six points of the lead. But by the final whistle, they were unable to complete the comeback.
In the team’s last three losses, the Colonials have pieced together strong play to put them back into competition after playing from behind. However, these stretches have not been enough to push them to a victory.
Head coach Maurice Joseph said with 11 games left in the regular season, GW now needs to execute a consistent 40 minutes of basketball.
“We’re playing well enough to be in a lot of games, we’re playing well enough to beat some good teams,” Joseph said after the game against George Mason. “We’re not finishing the job and that’s where I have got to figure out how to get our guys to do that.”
In their last three games, the Colonials have battled back after being down nine or more points, but ill-timed turnovers and missed shots have plagued their efforts, Joseph said.
“Our record isn’t indicative of who we are because we’ve had big leads against some really good teams, we’ve been up late and didn’t finish games so I believe we’re right there,” Joseph said. “We’re right there, we’ve just got to continue to progress, continue to get better.”
The Colonials overcame an 18-point deficit against Duquesne to take the lead in the final two minutes of play at home earlier this month. But GW turned over the ball with less than one minute in the frame, allowing the Dukes to pick up a layup and cut the Colonials’ lead to one point. Duquesne earned the win in overtime after the Colonials went 0-for-5 from the field in the opening two minutes of extra time.
“I think we need to have more focus going into the game and more of a sense of urgency and not wait to get punched in the face in order to respond,” Mazzulla said after the game against Duquesne. “We should be the first ones doing the hard contact and fighting from the jump. I think we wait until we stumble back and then have to react but we need to be more proactive.”
On the road at Davidson, the Colonials were down by as many as nine points in the first half. The lead was cut to one possession on multiple occasions, but the Wildcats embarked on a 10-0 run in the middle of the second half – as GW turned the ball over and missed its shots – and ultimately pulled away with an 11-point victory.
“We put spurts of basketball together where we looked exceptional and then we put some stretches where we’re average,” Joseph said after the loss to Duquesne. “So we got to really continue to figure out those things.”
After the contest against George Mason, Joseph said youth “comes into play” with the Colonials’ struggles on the court, but is not the main contributor to their inconsistent play.
Turnovers also helped shape the Colonials’ most recent win, a Jan. 16 match up against La Salle. The Explorers outscored GW 23–14 in the first half, forcing the Colonials to commit 12 first-half turnovers.
But once they were able to hold onto the ball more securely, turning the ball over just six times in the second half, they put together a 45-point effort in the final 20 minutes to secure the victory over La Salle.
“That’s the thing about league play, you’re going to have highs, you’re going to have lows, you’re going to have everything in between,” Joseph said after the game against Duquesne. “Got to keep plugging, got to keep plugging, that’s what we’ll do.”
Despite the 6-14 record, the Colonials have seen increased point production by sophomore forward Javier Langarica, sophomore guard Maceo Jack and Mazzulla in Atlantic 10 play. Williams has put in double-digit scoring against Duquesne, Davidson and George Mason and continues to lead the team with 13.2 points per game.
“We just got to keep growing,” Nolan said. “We’re a young team and we’re still figuring each other out but it’s going to click one game. One game it’s going to click and then from there we’ll be a better team.”
The Colonials return to action Wednesday at home against Fordham. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.