A 21–0 first half run combined with shutdown defense in the second frame propelled men’s basketball over Longwood Saturday.
The Colonials (6-6) chipped away at the Lancers’ (5-8) lead, charging ahead to a 78–65 win. Four players finished in double-digits, including sophomore guard Amir Harris, who stepped onto the hardwood for the first time in a GW uniform.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are on the floor playing together for the first time,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “Any time you add a new player – Chase Paar, Amir Harris – it’s something for the guys to learn. And they’re learning it in real time.”
The Lancers jumped out to an early lead on a layup in the paint from junior forward Jashaun Smith. An offensive rebound turned into a triple from junior guard Jaylon Wilson. Smith, Wilson and junior guard Shabooty Phillips combined for 47 points and 72.3 percent of Longwood’s offense.
Down by five points, Christian called a timeout and Harris, a transfer from Nebraska, checked into his first game since sustaining a knee injury in March. Harris ended the game with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. fired a three pointer to get the Colonials on the board, but a 15-5 Longwood run pushed GW into a 12-point deficit. Nelson finished the afternoon with 16 points and seven rebounds, a performance that earned him A-10 Co-Rookie of the Week.
A layup in the paint from redshirt senior guard Armel Potter got the Colonials back on track, starting a nine-point run that pulled GW within three points with 12 minutes left in the half. But Longwood went on a 9-2 run of its own to extend its lead to 10 points.
Four minutes later, the floodgates opened for the Colonials. The squad netted 21 points in six minutes to overtake the Lancers and build an 11-point lead that it never rescinded. Longwood netted six more points, but the Colonials still ended the half with a five-point lead.
Longwood opened the second frame scoring four points off a fastbreak layup and two shots from the charity stripe, coming within one point. Junior guard Maceo Jack drained a triple to boost the lead and started an 8-0 GW run. He led the floor with 20 points, netting 7-of-15 from the floor and 4-of-11 from beyond the arc in 34 minutes of action.
Senior forward Arnaldo Toro exited the game three minutes into the second half and did not return to the hardwood. He played 18 minutes, scoring two points and ripping seven boards.
“I have to check with our staff, try and figure out his status, so I don’t have anything more to report,” Christian said. “I think he could have played if we needed him to.”
Freshman forward Chase Paar and junior forward Ace Stallings saw more minutes on the court with Toro on the bench. The Colonials dominated in the paint, scoring 40 points down low, 14 more than Longwood.
Stallings, who netted four points and notched a steal and block, made several stops on defense, taking two charges down low in the first half.
“He takes charges, blocks shots,” Christian said. “His energy, his understanding of what we need to do on an everyday basis, it’s very electric and it’s helping us get better.”
Paar, who is easing his way back on the court after recovering from an injury early on in the season, went 3-of-3 from the field in five minutes of action. His six points are a season-high for the big man.
“He’s got a great IQ to his game, so it was just great to get him out there and have opportunities for him to play his best, and we expect big things for him in our future,” Christian said. “And a big part of our future is going to be centered around how well he develops, and he showed a little bit of what he can do.”
Strong defense combined with 16 points off the bench in the second half helped the Colonials to a 78–65 win. GW held Longwood to 27 percent shooting from the field and 14.3 percent from deep in the second half. The Lancers sunk 50 percent from the field and 46.2 percent of shots from beyond the arc in the first frame.
The Colonials improved their shooting from the field and the three-point line throughout the game, netting 48.4 percent of their buckets from the field and 45.5 percent of shots from deep. The team matched its highest point production this season with 78 points.
The squad is without senior guard Justin Williams after he sustained an injury against Harvard late last month.
“We’re in concussion protocol right now and we’re just trying to continue to get him better and get him right,” Christian said. “I always want my guys playing at 100 percent. He’s not there quite yet, so we’re going to keep rehabbing him to get him back there.”
The Colonials will hit the road for their final nonconference matchup of the season against Vermont. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m.