Men’s basketball closed out its homestand to Morgan State with a loss Saturday.
The Colonials (1–3) led by 10 points in the second half, but the Bears (2–2) clawed back to top the team 68–64. Morgan State went on a 15-0 run to snap the Colonials’ lead and never looked back.
“We’re not looking at our scorebook,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “Based on where we are right now, the score is what it is, but I felt like the energy our guys had on that floor today for the full 40 minutes was something we hadn’t reached this year.”
Senior forward Arnaldo Toro started the game, played two minutes and then left with an injury after recording one defensive rebound. Christian said the injury is “small” and he is not worried about Toro’s ability to bounce back at the next game.
“I want to make sure that when a guy steps out there, he’s completely confident and he knows we’re not just putting him out there with a chance of re-injury,” Christian said. “I’m really excited to have him back.”
Without Toro, GW was outplayed down low. The Bears dominated in the paint – scoring 40 points – 20 more than the Colonials. Morgan State also out-rebounded GW, securing 45 boards while GW collected a season-low 29.
With 17 offensive rebounds, the Bears notched nine second-chance points, six more than GW’s three points off seven offensive rebounds.
Both teams started the half slow, scoring just eight combined points five minutes into the half. A stalemate ensued with nine ties and three lead changes throughout the half. Both teams struggled from the field, with GW shooting at a .360 clip and Morgan State shooting at a .387 clip.
Shots from outside the arc didn’t fall for both teams. The Colonials sunk 4-of-16 opportunities from beyond the arc and the Bears mustered just one triple on nine attempts.
Junior guard Maceo Jack led all players in the first half with 11 points. Despite the low team average, Jack hit 4-of-6 from the field and drained 3-of-5 from deep to put the Colonials ahead 32–30 at the half.
After the team pulled ahead, it extended its lead in the second half, jumping as far as 10 points in front of Morgan State. But with nine minutes to go, the Colonials went cold and the Bears heated up.
Morgan State went on a 15-0 run over the span of four minutes to take a 61–51 lead. Over the scoreless span, the Colonials missed four shots from deep and a one-and-one opportunity from the charity stripe. Three separate players also turned the ball over.
Christian said Morgan State tinkered with its defenses until it found a combination that stumped the Colonials. He added that GW was in the right places on the court to produce, but it was plagued by bad decision making.
“A great job by Morgan State,” Christian said, “They kept changing defenses and bringing up something different until they found something that really worked. They switched to a one-three-one there and we turned it over, but again we had people in the right spots, we just didn’t make the right decision there.”
Redshirt senior guard Armel Potter broke the Bears’ streak by hitting one of his two free throws, helping the Colonials chip away at the lead.
Potter, freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. and freshman Shawn Walker Jr. split time at the point. Nelson Jr. said he has full faith in his teammates to handle the ball.
“I trust Armel and Shawn to handle the ball,” Nelson Jr. said. “I just think it was great for the team.”
The Colonials came within one possession and had the opportunity to tie the game, but Walker Jr. and Jack missed two chances at game-tying shots. A GW foul on senior guard Stanley Davis, who hit both free throws, sealed the deal and the Colonials dropped the final home game in the month of November 68–64.
GW held Davis, who averages 17 points on the season, scoreless in the first half, but he powered back in the second frame to lead all players with 17 points.
The team’s shooting percentages against Morgan State were well below its season averages of 40.1 percent from the field and 27.4 percent from behind the arc. GW recorded season lows, shooting at a .340 clip from the field and .226 from deep.
Christian said the team needs to improve its shot-making, especially when players are wide open from the three-point line. He said the squad needs to remain confident in its abilities to hit shots and continue developing into the shooting team it proved itself to be in practice.
“We’re going to add flow with it,” Christian said. “Maybe we’ll go down to the Bahamas and get our sea legs under us.”
The Colonials are back in action at the Island of the Bahamas Showcase Friday against UMKC. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m.