Men’s basketball had a plan to recover from a four-point deficit with less than 30 seconds left, but confusion between head coach Jamion Christian and players stunted the comeback against Duquesne Saturday.
The Colonials (6-10, 0-3 A-10) evened the score at halftime, but timely execution in the final moments of play powered the Dukes (14-2, 4-0 A-10) to a tight 66–61 win. Christian said he and the team had two different plays in mind, and players did not know where to pass the ball in the remaining seconds.
“We want to be a team that really executes well at the end there and it seems like we didn’t do a good job of executing, and that’s on me,” Christian said. “Just making sure the guys know where you want the ball to go to.”
Freshman forward Jamison Battle led the squad for the second straight game with 20 points, matching his career-high against St. Bonaventure Jan. 5. He tacked on 10 rebounds to record his second consecutive double-double.
The Colonials struck first with a layup from freshman forward Chase Paar. Duquesne fired back with a 7-0 run before freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. notched a layup down low. On the day, he netted 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting.
Battle sunk his first three-pointer of the night to even the score at nine, but junior guard Tavion Dunn-Martin responded with a triple of his own to retake the lead. Dunn-Martin along with three other Dukes finished in double-digit scoring.
With less than 10 minutes to play, Duquesne blocked a layup attempt from Paar and secured two points in the paint for themselves. The Colonials went back to Paar on the next possession and the big man hit the layup.
An 13-4 run by the Dukes built an 11-point lead for the team with three minutes remaining in the half. Thirty seconds later, Battle found his rhythm from long range, hitting two back-to-back triples and nailing two free throws to bring the Colonials within three points.
Battle said his teammates played a large role in his offensive production, allowing him to take a team-leading 15 shots throughout the game.
“I probably wouldn’t get as many shots as I do, it’s just with my teammates, right, because they’re the ones who pass the ball to me,” Battle said. “And I think they’re the ones always coming to me, ‘Keep shooting, keep shooting, you’re a great shooter.’”
With four seconds on the clock in the first frame, Battle hit a buzzer-beating three-point shot to send both teams into the locker room knotted at 32. He netted 18 of his points from deep, connecting on 6-of-15 attempts from beyond the arc.
“We were pretty excited,” Battle said. “We knew that we just had to come out in the second half and fight, and I think at points we did, but I just think there’s just more to it.”
Despite Battle’s hot hand, the Colonials only connected on 26.7 percent of shots from beyond the arc and netted 40 percent of its attempts from the field. Duquesne’s shooting percentage stood at 39.3 percent from the field, but the Dukes fired at a .429 clip from deep.
Both teams markedly improved its shooting in the second half, trading basket for basket. The Colonials sunk 46.2 percent of its attempts from the field and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Dukes fired at a .500 clip from long range and connected on 60 percent of its three-point attempts.
Another triple from Battle and a layup from sophomore guard Amir Harris boosted the Colonials to a three-point lead. The Dukes rallied a 9-0 run to take their largest lead of the half, advancing by six points.
The Colonials lagged behind by one or two possessions for 10 minutes before Nelson Jr. sunk two shots from the charity stripe to even out the score at 54. The lead changed six times in the final five minutes of play.
A Nelson Jr. dunk off an inbound pass pulled the Colonials ahead by one at the 2:27 mark, but a three-point stroke from sophomore guard Sincere Carry gave the Dukes a lead GW could not overcome.
“Great awareness by them of getting the ball to the right spots and really keeping pressure on us,” Christian said. “We just couldn’t get that stop to come out with another offensive possession and really open it up.”
Miscommunication between Christian and the squad on the court coupled with clutch free-throw shooting from the Dukes sealed the Colonials’ fate. GW fell to Duquesne 66–61.
Christian said the team will focus on the execution portion of practice in the days to come to ensure players are moving to the right spots on the floor to “really attack the opposing team.”
The Colonials are back in action Saturday to host George Mason. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.