Men’s basketball downs Duquesne, splits season series

Media Credit: File Photo by Sabrina Godin | Photographer

Senior forward Arnaldo Toro fights through traffic in last week's game against George Mason. In the Colonials' game against Duquesne, Toro grabbed a floor-leading 14 rebounds and sunk 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting.

Men’s basketball trailed Duquesne by six points before freshman forward Jamison Battle hit a jumper with less than 10 minutes into the first frame. He kicked off a 14-0 run that saw five different Colonials net baskets to build a lead the team refused to give away Wednesday.

The Colonials (12-14, 6-7 A-10) upset the Dukes (18-7, 8-5 A-10) 70–67 on the road, avenging a five-point Jan. 11 loss. Team veterans led the squad, with redshirt senior guard Armel Potter and senior forward Arnaldo Toro notching double-doubles.

“We did a good job taking care of the ball, and when we take care of the ball, we’re able to really settle in offensively,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “Its tough to stop and we were able to settle in last night pretty nicely.”

Potter dished out 10 assists and tacked on 11 points, going 6-of-8 from the charity stripe. Toro ripped a floor-leading 14 rebounds and sunk 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 34 minutes off the bench. After missing eight games because of injury, the big man recorded his fourth double-double on the season and his first since Dec. 7 against Delaware.

“It was great to see him playing that way,” Christian said. “Makes my heart so happy to see him play with that kind of fight, that kind of hunger, that kind of grittiness, being tenacious.”

Junior guard Maceo Jack added to the upperclassmen scoring sheet with 20 points. He sunk 4-of-9 from deep and 7-of-12 from the floor after being held scoreless in the first tussle with the Dukes.

Junior forward Marcus Weathers started the scoring off, netting a jumper in the paint. He led the Dukes with 19 points, firing at a .571 clip from the field. Duquesne tacked on four more points to create a six-point deficit for GW.

Battle launched a triple to cut the lead in half and put the Colonials on the board. Five consecutive points from the Dukes bumped the lead to eight. Toro checked into the game for the first time at the 15:46 mark and in less than a minute grabbed an offensive rebound and nailed the putback.

The Colonials dominated on the boards, ripping 41 rebounds to the Dukes’ 34. Duquesne nabbed two more offensive rebounds, but GW locked down the glass on the defensive end, holding a nine-rebound advantage.

“Outrebounding them by several was a major part of the game, and we’re able to really dominate the glass that way against teams and get stops the way we were able to do it against Duquesne, we’re a tough team to play against,” Christian said. “We want to start building consistency on the glass, and I think when we’re able to that, you’ll see our defensive numbers consistently improve.”

Duquesne pumped the lead up to nine points three times, but the Colonials never let it climb into double-digits. Battle’s jumper with about nine minutes in the half propelled the Colonials on a 14-0 run.

Five Colonials scored on the run and by the game’s end, five Colonials had reached double-digit scoring. GW flipped the script and handed Duquesne an eight-point deficit before the Dukes landed another basket.

The Dukes worked the lead down to one possession at the half, but the Colonials entered the locker room up three points. GW netted 50 percent from the floor and 25 percent from deep. Duquesne’s shooters were colder, firing at a .387 clip from the field and .200 from beyond the arc.

Jack’s three-ball was falling at the start of the second half, nailing back-to-back triples. The squad rolled over the Dukes from three-point territory in the second frame, sinking 7-of-12 to Duquesne’s 2-of-9.

Freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. began and capped a 13-4 GW swing. He finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

With less than seven minutes to play, Duquesne tried to cut down the deficit. But Jack and Battle swished back-to-back shots from deep, pushing the lead to a game-high 14.

The Dukes installed a full-court press with less than five minutes of action remaining, pestering Battle, who was the baseline inbounder for the Colonials. The pressure worked and forced Battle to throw the ball away three consecutive times for six Duquesne points.

“We hadn’t faced a full court press like that this year, so its great to get some game experience from that and have a chance to learn from it,” Christian said. “And we’ll get back on the film today and we’ll learn things we need to do better.”

Sophomore guard Sincere Carry knocked down a three-point shot with 35 seconds left, pulling the Dukes within one possession. He ended the night with 17 points, five rebounds and a team-high five assists. The Colonials missed 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch and Weathers hit 1-of-2 to keep the pressure on GW.

On his final trip to the charity stripe, Toro connected on 1-of-2 to give the Colonials a three-point cushion that lasted to the final buzzer. GW bested Duquesne 70–67 to notch a two-game win streak.

Christian said the Colonials are set to face an aggressive La Salle team in their next Atlantic 10 matchup.

“You just have to be really connected defensively and be ready to guard against tough shots and make plays,” Christian said. “They foul a lot, so us getting to the free throw line will be huge, and us being able to take care of the ball will be big against La Salle.”

The Colonials are back in the Smith Center Saturday to take on the Explorers. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m.

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