Saint Louis overcomes men’s basketball with 42-point second half

Media Credit: Dean Whitelaw | Photographer

Redshirt junior guard DJ Williams makes a drive for the basket during Wednesday night's home game against Saint Louis.

Men’s basketball was in a deadlock with Saint Louis Wednesday night with 20 minutes left to play.

The Colonials (7–17,3–8 A-10) and the Billikens were tied in points (31), rebounds (14) and turnovers (7). GW held Saint Louis to one point in the final six minutes before halftime while picking up 11 points in the same span to overcome a 10-point deficit.

But the Billikens pulled away right out of the gate in the second half, racking up 42 points while the Colonials suffered through spurts of scoring droughts, eventually dropping the game 73–58. The loss marks GW’s third in a row and the Colonials remain scoreless in the month of February.

“We went through a stretch at about the 12-minute mark to the next media timeout where we didn’t score the ball,” head coach Maurice Joseph said. “They got to the free-throw line, knocked down some shots and we went on a drought.”

The Billikens went 18-for-22 from the charity stripe on the night.

Senior guard Javon Bess entered the game averaging 15.6 points per contest, but came away with 26 points on the night, including 4-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Sophomore forward Hasahn French dominated the paint, grabbing 13 rebounds to lead the floor.

The Colonials were stung by foul trouble, with sophomore guard Maceo Jack and sophomore forward Javier Langarica both seeing limited minutes after picking up their third fouls early in the game.

“It’s kind of tough when foul trouble can affect the game a lot and it did today,” redshirt junior guard DJ Williams said.

Williams led the Colonials with 21 points – 12 of which came from beyond the arc – while tallying five rebounds in 35 minutes of action. Jack contributed 11 points, five rebounds and one steal in 22 minutes of action while Langarica chipped in 10 points to round out GW’s scoring.

The Billikens – the top rebounding team in the Atlantic 10 – grabbed 33 rebounds on the night while limiting GW to 26 rebounds on the game. But Saint Louis cashed in on turnovers, picking up 19 points off 14 GW turnovers.

“When we turn the ball over, we take quick shots, it fuels other team’s transitions,” Joseph said. “So we just have to do a better job of being able to take shots that are in character and take care of the ball or else they’re going to run out on us.”

Both teams traded baskets to open the first half, with Jack and Williams putting up quick points to put GW up 5–2. But the Billikens answered with three points from the free-throw line to knot the score at five points apiece, and a jumper from French with 15:34 left in the game put the Billikens up for the first time 7–6.

Saint Louis never led by more than three points the first seven minutes and 14 seconds of play, with the Colonials and the Billikens going punch-for-punch to keep the game tight. The Colonials answered a quick five-point run by the Billikens that put them up 19–13 with four points of their own to stay competitive down 19–17 with 9:53 left before the break.

But the Billikens started getting hot from beyond the arc after senior guard Dion Wiley drained his first three-point shot of the night to put Saint Louis up 22–17 with 9:38. Bess followed Wiley’s three with a shot from deep of his own to spur an 11–3 run that put Saint Louis up 30–20 at the 6:39 mark.

But after that it was GW’s turn to dish out the points, closing out the half on an 11-1 run to knot the score 31–31 heading into the locker room.

At the break, the Colonials were shooting 13-for-27 from the field while holding Saint Louis to an 11-for-24 clip in the half. Williams and freshman guard Fred Thatch Jr. each had 12 points apiece at the break, with Thatch shooting 5-for-5 from the field.

Both teams swapped points to open the second half, and a three-point shot from Jack with 16:09 put GW ahead for the first time in the second half 36–35. But Saint Louis answered with a three of its own to recapture a two-point lead before Williams drained another three to give the Colonials the advantage 39–38 with 15:10 left to play.

Both teams kept passing the score back and forth, with neither holding more than a three-point advantage. But another three-pointer by Bess grew Saint Louis’ lead 50–46 with about eight minutes left before the final buzzer, prompting a 10-2 Billikens run that was capped off by Bess at the charity stripe to put Saint Louis up 57–48 with 4:52 to play.

The Colonials never got within seven points of the Billikens from that point forward and Bess closed out the game for Saint Louis with six-straight points from the free-throw line to take the win.

“The shots will fall,” Joseph said. “If we get the good ones they’ll fall, but the droughts hurt us. The offensive droughts hurt us.”

The Colonials return to action Saturday against Duquesne on the road. Tipoff is slated for noon.

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