Preview: Men’s basketball vs. Saint Louis

Media Credit: Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Sophomore guard Justin Mazzulla goes for a lay up during Saturday's game against Richmond.

Who: Men’s basketball
Where: Smith Center, Washington, D.C.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m.

Men’s basketball will take on Saint Louis at home Wednesday following a bleak loss to Richmond on the road.

The Colonials (7–16, 3–7 A-10) held the lead for just 18 seconds in their most recent contest against the Spiders Saturday, eventually dropping the game 89–63. But GW’s opponent Wednesday is coming off its own loss, as the Billikens fell 91–61 to Saint Joseph’s Friday.

The two teams last met when Saint Louis booted GW from the Atlantic 10 tournament last season with a 70–63 victory.

Case for the Colonials:

GW’s offense hasn’t generated much traction in its past two losses, but the Saint Louis squad hasn’t produced big scoring numbers this season, either. The Billikens put up an average of 66.9 points per game, just above the Colonials at 64.6 points per game.

But GW has shown its offense is capable of putting together big tallies against tough opponents like Saint Joseph’s and Dayton, so the Colonials will need to bolster that kind of performance against Saint Louis to sustain them throughout the game.

If the Colonials can hold onto some consistency, they will fare well against a Saint Louis squad that has struggled to maintain steady energy through 40 minutes of play in nearly all its contests this year.

The Colonials were hurt by Richmond’s three-point shooting in its last contest, but Saint Louis shoots three-pointers at a 29.8 percent clip on the season which should be easier to defend for GW. The Billikens were 6-for-26 from the three in their last contest against Saint Joseph’s but likely will not look to attack the Colonials from the perimeter.

Sophomore guard Terry Nolan Jr. did not make the trip to Richmond due to illness and is listed as day-to-day. His absence left notable gaps in the Colonials’ defense and offense, but Nolan may have been able to at least partially hinder the storm of three-point shooting the Spiders dished out last week.

If Nolan is available for Wednesday’s contest, it will aid GW’s chemistry and consistency on the floor. Nolan put up 13 points when the teams met last season, so another appearance from him could help GW reverse the outcome of their last matchup.

Case for the Billikens:

Saint Louis is the best rebounding team in the conference, averaging 39.8 rebounds per game compared to the Colonials’ mark of 33.4. The Billikens also sit atop the A-10 in the offensive rebounding category, snagging 14.0 offensive boards per game. The Billikens should play to their strengths Wednesday and utilize their offensive rebounding advantage against GW, a weak rebounding squad.

With junior forward Arnaldo Toro sitting out due to injury for the whole season, rebounding has been a weak point for GW and the Billikens will likely go after their missed shots with gumption to earn second-chance points. The Colonials average 33.4 rebounds per game and give up the most boards to opponents in the A-10 at an average of 38.2 rebounds per game.

While their rebounding is solid, the Billikens leak points on defense. Saint Louis allows opponents to shoot 41.4 percent from the field, the fourth-highest field goal percentage allowed in the A-10. The Billikens are even more porous from the three-point line, allowing opponents an average of 30.2 percent shooting from the perimeter.

GW has taken many three-point attempts in its last two contests but has struggled to sink those shots, shooting at 31.0 percent from the perimeter between its last two contests. Saint Louis’ three-point defense should be able to stifle the Colonials’ three-point game if GW decides to focus on the three ball Wednesday.

Senior guard Javon Bell is an offensive threat for Saint Louis, averaging 15.6 points per game. If Nolan is still sitting out for GW, the Colonials might scramble to find a defensive strategy that will effectively shut Bell down.

Bottom line:

Both teams have shifted hot and cold all season long, but the Colonials are coming off two-straight rough performances against VCU and Richmond, and the momentum is not in their favor.

If Saint Louis puts up rebounding numbers like it has been all season, it will likely earn the team a win. Rebounding has been a consistent weak point in GW’s losses and pulling off an upset against the best rebounding team in the conference would be a feat for the Colonials.

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