Loss to Rhode Island gives men’s basketball first 20-loss season in seven years

Media Credit: File photo by Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Sophomore guard Justin Mazzulla faces off against a VCU player during a game last week.

A 27-point loss at the hands of Rhode Island Tuesday night reduced men’s basketball to its first 20-loss season since 2012.

The Colonials (8–20, 4–11 A-10) fell to the Rams (13–14, 6–9 A-10) 80–53. Rhode Island’s win was propelled by 10-for-21 shooting from beyond the arc – good for 46.7 percent compared to their season average of 26.6 percent – while GW finished the game 0-for-11 from three-point range.

“That was an awful effort by us. I thought we turned it over way too much,” head coach Maurice Joseph said. “We’ve got to figure out why we can’t string it together and keep it together.”

GW turned the ball over 19 times on the game, the second-highest tally this season behind a 21-turnover contest against Manhattan Nov. 24. Rhode Island got 14 points off turnovers, while the Colonials scored just five points off the Rams’ seven turnovers.

A stagnant offense also hindered the Colonials, who finished the night shooting at 39.2 percent and with 20 made field goals compared to the Rams’ 32. Sophomore forward Javier Langarica recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Redshirt junior guard DJ Williams and sophomore guard Maceo Jack – who average 14.8 and 10.9 points per game, respectively – were limited to a collective 4-for-17 from the field on the game and went 0-for-8 from the field in the second half.

“They really keyed in on those two guys in their man-to-man defense and they denied entries, but again, I thought we were just lackadaisical,” Joseph said. “We didn’t show up and it was a poor effort on our part.”

An athletic department spokesman declined to facilitate interviews with student-athletes post-game, citing a department policy.

The Colonials faltered early on in the matchup despite striking first on a made layup by Langarica and trading points with Rhode Island until the 12-point mark. Sophomore guard Terry Nolan Jr. entered the game off the bench after six minutes of play. Nolan sat out the last two contests for violating a team rule, according to an athletic department spokesperson.

But after the 12-point mark, the Rams got hot from beyond the arc and overwhelmed the Colonials’ defense. Rhode Island went 7-for-14 from three in the first half and tacked on a 56.3 percent field goal percentage to add to GW’s woes.

Sophomore guard Fatts Russell and junior guard Jeff Dowtin led the three-point charge for the Rams in the first half with five-made threes between the two players.

Turnovers also forced GW into a hole early on, with the Colonials coughing up the ball 13 times in the starting frame, matching their season average in the first 20 minutes of play.

GW went to the locker room at halftime down 44–31, although the Rams led by as many as 18 points in the game at this point.

The Rams maintained a wide gap for the remainder of the game, beginning the second half with a 6–2 scoring run that set the tone for their offensive domination for the remainder of the game.

GW’s ice-cold offense in the second half ended any possibility of a comeback. The Colonials went 6-for-25 from the field in the final 20 minutes of play and nearly half of their 22 points in the frame came from a 10-for-15 effort from the free-throw line.

Rhode Island pushed its lead to a game-high 31 points after Preston tipped in a rebound off his own missed dunk to take the lead 80–49 with about two minutes to play. GW ended the contest with two-straight baskets from sophomore guard Justin Mazzulla and redshirt junior guard Armel Potter to cut the Rams’ lead to fewer than 30 points.

“We’ve got to own up to it, we can’t make excuses about anything,” Joseph said. “It’s not about injuries, it’s not about Toro, it’s about us. We’ve got to play harder, we’ve got to play smarter.”

The Colonials return to action at home against St. Bonaventure Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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