Powered by one of its strongest shooting nights on the season, men’s basketball earned its third conference win of the season against Fordham Wednesday.
The Colonials (7–14, 3–5 A-10) earned a decisive 79–61 victory over the Rams (9–12, 0–8) powered by a 30-point performance from redshirt junior guard DJ Williams. GW finished the night shooting 48.4 percent from the field, one of the team’s best performances of the season.
“He’s improving in all aspects of his game as the season goes on,” head coach Maurice Joseph said. “They came out of zone, I thought was going to be a really good thing for us because I’ve seen DJ shooting that 15-foot, elbow-to-elbow jump shot time and time again.”
Williams’ 30-point performance was the best scoring performance by a Colonial since 2018-graduate Yuta Watanabe dropped 31 points in a victory over Fordham last season. The final tally marks Williams’ highest-scoring performance of his career.
After coughing up 18 turnovers in the team’s last contest against George Mason, the Colonials cleaned up their ball handling and cut their turnovers in half against Fordham. The squad also upped its passing performance with 21 assists on the night.
“I was really, really happy for our guys to win and for our staff now to have the fuel to say, ‘hey, look this is what you guys are capable of when we share it, when we move it and the kind of quality shots that we get,’” Joseph said.
GW limited the Rams to a 35.9 percent shooting performance on the night, but three Rams tallied scoring totals in the double digits, including senior forward Jesse Bunting, who scored 19 points and added five rebounds.
The Colonials finished the night with strong shooting numbers, but the Colonials’ shots were not falling at the opening of play and Fordham easily jumped out to a 5–0 lead.
Fordham attacked early from beyond the arc, earning 12 of its 32 first-half points off three-pointers. The Rams then began to target under the basket, scoring a few wide open shots under the rim and grabbing 14 points in the paint.
“No matter what team we’re playing, it can be the number one team, it can be last, and we got to start off strong like it’s the national championship,” Williams said. “We started off kind of slow, kind of complacent, but we picked it up.”
The Colonials clawed their way back as the half progressed behind a solid defensive effort and an uptick in offensive production. GW forced five turnovers in the half while only giving up two and scored nine points off turnovers.
After being down by as many as seven points, the Colonials tied the game 25–25 with a three-point shot from sophomore guard Justin Mazzulla and took a 27–25 lead minutes later off junior guard Justin Williams’ mid-range jumper with 6:42 left in the first frame.
Both scoring efforts were part of a 16–0 GW run that propelled the team to an 11-point lead, but the Rams edged their way back in the game with a 7–3 run to end the half down 39–32.
DJ Williams sank two straight shots from the elbow to start off the second half and widened the score gap, setting the tone for the remainder of the half. GW outscored Fordham 40–29 in the final 20 minutes of play.
“I work on that shot a lot so any time I saw an opportunity I just stayed aggressive and took it,” he said. “Tonight it was falling for me.”
Mazzulla sank two free throws to give the Colonials a 79–59 lead – their largest of the night, with 14 seconds left in the game.
“They had 11 turnovers we did a good job of turning some of those into getting to the free throw line,” Joseph said. ‘We did a great job of turning defense into offense, so again another thing that was a positive for us.”
The Colonials will play their second straight game at the Smith Center when they take on VCU Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.