Men’s basketball flies home with two wins after tournament in the Bahamas

Media Credit: File Photo by Zach Brien | Photographer

The Colonials lost their first game in their international tournament over the weekend but went on to win the next two games.

Men’s basketball snapped a three-game losing streak, nabbing two wins to cap off the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase.

The Colonials (3-4) opened the tournament with a loss to UMKC (4-4). The team turned it around on the second day, topping Evansville (4-3). GW carried its momentum into the third and final day of the tournament, earning a win against Milwaukee (5-3).

The squad shot more than 40 percent from the field and more than 36 percent from the three-point line throughout the weekend. The team also upped its average three more points per game than it did in its opening four games.

Redshirt senior guard Armel Potter exploded for the Colonials over the three-game span, consistently scoring more than 15 points per game and bumping his average points per game from 2.67 to 12.33 points. Potter also joined the 1,000 point club over the weekend.

“He has a great experience factor,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “He really fits into our system and our scheme of how we want to score the ball and how we want to deliver it. He’s got a great pace with it, so I think what we are trying to do offensively fits his skillset.”

Friday

Men’s basketball kicked off the tournament with a loss to UMKC Friday.

The Colonials held the lead for a majority of the game, but an explosive run in the final five minutes by the Kangaroos propelled them to a 74–68 victory.

GW’s defense locked up the Kangaroos in the first half, forcing 10 turnovers and holding UMKC to a 23 percent clip from the field. But the Kangaroos nabbed 51 points on .621 shooting from the field and gave up only four turnovers in the second frame.

The Colonials’ offensive effort was more consistent than Kansas City’s, making 45 percent of their shots in the first half and 44 percent in the second. The stable production proved insufficient against the Kangaroos’ last-minute surge.

Christian said the team maintained offensive consistency for the majority of the game, but a lapse in the second half prevented the team from taking home a victory.

“For the first time all year we were really consistent with how we executed offensively,” Christian said. “So I’m really enthused with our team and I thought we put together a really good show. We had one bad stretch in the second half that we can correct.”

Redshirt senior guard Armel Potter notched 23 minutes on the floor. He nabbed 20 points, five rebounds and six assists on the night. Potter had a combined nine minutes of playing time in the first two games of the season.

Junior guard Maceo Jack and freshman forward Jamison Battle also had double-digit nights, combining for 27 points. The two players provided the bulk of GW’s three-point production, making seven triples on 11 attempts.

Saturday

The Colonials bounced back in their second game of the tournament, earning a 78–70 win over Evansville.

The team dominated the Purple Aces in the first half, shooting at a .536 clip from the field and going 6-for-12 from the three-point line. The Colonials went on several runs throughout the half before building up a 45–30 lead at the half.

Jack led all scorers in the first frame with 14 points on 60 percent shooting from deep.

In the second half, the Colonials stayed hot, going 10-of-21 from the field and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Jack tacked on eight more points and Potter added 13 more points for a team-leading and season-high 25 points. His work on the offensive end helped Potter eclipse 1,000 career points.

The team couldn’t curb senior guard K.J. Riley in the second half. He boosted his six-point first-half performance with a 22-point second half for a game-leading 28 points.

The Kangaroos struggled to sink shots from the outside throughout the game. They made one triple in the first half and one triple in the second, shooting just 14.3 percent.

Christian said the team played 40 minutes of basketball and adapted to lessen the miscues it faced against UMKC.

“The guys have a great level of awareness and understanding of where they need to be better,” Christian said. “So it was great to be able to acknowledge some things that we need to get better and then be able to go out in the game to perform it.”

Sunday

With one game left to play, the Colonials beat Milwaukee 66–63 thanks to a 22-point effort from Potter.

Potter earned his first start of the season for the team, replacing freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. in the lineup. Christian said the decision came from Potter’s “hot hand” throughout the tournament.

Seven different Colonials contributed to the win. Battle recorded a double-double with 12 rebounds and 12 points. Jack and junior forward Ace Stallings notched nine points apiece. Stallings scored all nine points in the first half in 11 minutes of play. Christian said his ability to move around the court contributed to his season-high point performance.

Before the game, the Panthers shot 35.1 percent from the three-point line. But the Colonials held Milwaukee to a season-low of 15.8 percent. The team improved its shooting from behind the arc throughout the game and ended the contest sinking 36.8 percent of its shots.

The Colonials capitalized on the Panthers’ 14 turnovers, netting 17 points off turnovers. Milwaukee scored just seven points from the Colonials’ 14 turnovers.

The team was without senior forward Arnaldo Toro, who sustained an injury in the game against Morgan State Nov. 16. Christian said Toro is being monitored and evaluated each day.

“He’ll definitely play next week,” Christian said. “So just trying to do what’s right for our athletes, just trying to be there for him, allowing him to be at his very best.”

Christian said the team increased its consistency throughout the tournament. He said the team’s two wins will help it take on South Carolina next week.

“You want to constantly be growing, constantly building and we’re able to do that,” Christian said.

The Colonials are back in action Dec. 1 at South Carolina. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.

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