Towson downed men’s basketball in the team’s first game of the 2019-20 season.
The Colonials (0–1) began the season on the road against the Tigers (1–0), who defeated them 72–58. The game marks head coach Jamion Christian’s official debut with the program and a host of new players.
Christian emphasized three-point shooting as a mainstay in his offensive strategy throughout the preseason. But going cold from beyond the arc proved to be the Colonials’ downfall. The squad went eight-for-26 from the three point line and sunk only 31 percent of its attempts.
Christian said he was happy with the number of chances the team earned, but players need to build up consistency throughout the season.
“I thought we had some great looks, and with the amount of looks we had, I think we were shaking our heads at a lot of them,” Christian said. “We just weren’t able to knock them in tonight. I just think it’s about getting that consistency down.”
The Colonials and Tigers went back and forth throughout the first 15 minutes of play, trading matching shots through 19 points before Towson broke away. The Colonials took a 21–19 lead against the Tigers late in the first half, but a 13-2 run by Towson buried GW and gave the Tigers a lead the Colonials couldn’t overcome.
GW entered the half down nine points, shooting at a .250 clip from behind the arc and a .435 clip from the field.
Half of GW’s eight triples came from the hands of junior guard Maceo Jack, who took 14 points and three assists. The squad couldn’t adapt in the paint, netting just 16 points and allowing Towson to score 36 points in the lane.
Two free throws from freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. three minutes into the second half put the squad within eight points. But players couldn’t lessen the gap, staying at least 10 points back from the Tigers for the rest of the game.
The Tigers were lethal from a distance, draining 58 percent of its shots from beyond the arc. Christian said Towson collected some “easy buckets” because the team struggled to keep up defensively in transition.
“I think we gave up some baskets in transition, which is pretty uncharacteristic for our team,” Christian said. “We just have to continue to work on those, keep working on our discipline in those kind of moments.”
The Colonials’ defense couldn’t find an answer for sophomore guard Allen Betrand and redshirt junior forward Juwan Gray, who led the Tigers with 18 and 19 points, respectively. The duo shot 56 percent from the floor and 80 percent from behind the arc with Gray netting all three of his attempts from three-point range.
Nelson Jr. led the Colonials at the point, scoring a team-high 15 points and five assists and nabbing seven rebounds in his collegiate debut. With a team-leading nine turnovers, Nelson Jr. owned 60 percent of GW’s 15 turnovers on the night.
Christian said despite the turnovers, he wants Nelson Jr. to make risky plays that he believes will eventually pay off as the season progresses. Christian added that he and Nelson Jr. will watch film and evaluate the moves for future play.
“We asked him to take a couple chances and we want him to take risks,” Christian said. “It’s important for him to take risks and make the plays that will let us win the games. And sometimes, they go the other direction.”
Turnovers stifled the Colonials’ struggling offensive efforts. The Tigers added 17 points off Colonial turnovers and the ball-handling errors made a difference. Without passing up Tigers’ 17 points off turnovers, GW could have taken the game 58–55.
The squad lacked production from the bench, contributing just 10 points to the Colonials’ efforts. The team’s starters strung together the remaining 48 points in 149 minutes on the court. Towson’s bench far outpaced the Colonials, adding a combined 30 points from outside its starting five.
“Any time you face a team that’s really hard to defend like they are, you’re just going to continue to get better,” Christian said. “I think it really builds our competitive endurance.”
The Colonials will return to action Saturday for their home opener against Howard. Tip off is slated for 4 p.m.