Junior guard Maceo Jack charged down the court in the second half to hit a triple and pull men’s basketball within two points of La Salle Saturday.
On the next GW drive, he shot from deep, only to be fouled and sent to the charity stripe. Jack hit all three shots, giving the Colonials their first lead of the game since the 13-minute mark of the first half. But his shooting surge couldn’t keep the squad afloat for long.
The Colonials (12-15, 6-8 A-10) dropped an Atlantic 10 matchup to the Explorers (13-13, 4-10 A-10) 72–62. Jack and redshirt senior guard Armel Potter each tabbed a floor-leading 19 points in the loss.
“I just don’t think we had the collective toughness we needed in order to pull out the win,” Jack said. “We needed to start games better and have a full 40 minutes of great basketball. So we’re just going to get back to the drawing board.”
On the day, the Colonials fired at a .378 clip from the floor and a .300 clip from deep. Jack led the charge from beyond the arc, connecting on 4-of-10 attempts.
His first triple of the contest came in the opening minutes of the game. He sunk a three-ball to put the Colonials on the board first. The Explorers responded with a layup to pull within a point.
Freshmen forwards Chase Paar and Jamison Battle combined for five points, and Potter tacked on two free throws to give the squad an eight-point advantage. An 8-1 run from the Explorers closed the gap to one point, until freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. gripped an errant La Salle pass and slammed it through the basket to extend the lead to three.
But the Explorers were just warming up, and two back-to-back triples from freshman guard Sherif Kenney began a 13-0 run. La Salle moved its scoring into the paint, netting six straight points from layups. A steal, transition dunk and free throw shot from junior guard David Beatty capped the scoring swing.
“You can’t allow teams to go on these 13, 14-0 runs,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “You’ve got to be able to reset yourself on the floor, and we did that during the second half, but we just didn’t do that during the first half. We just have to be better at it.”
Potter ended the run with a drive to the basket before both teams remained scoreless for two minutes. La Salle connected on five straight points to end the scoreless streak and work the lead to 13 points.
Senior guard Justin Williams checked into the game for the first time in nearly two months since playing at Vermont on Dec. 31 and sustaining a concussion. He played four scoreless minutes and committed two fouls in the first half.
“When you’re in that concussion protocol you can’t even practice, you can’t run through plays and stuff, so his playbook knowledge is a little bit limited,” Christian said. “We’re looking forward to getting him back and wanted to get him on the floor.”
In the final five minutes of the half, the Colonials’ only points came from the charity stripe. The team went 6-of-8 to close the half with a 14-point deficit.
Jack’s three-point shooting surge lifted the Colonials above the Explorers to begin the second half, but La Salle rebounded with five free throws and a triple to quickly work its lead back to three possessions.
Battle and Nelson Jr. combined for a fast break layup that pulled the Colonials within three points of the Explorers. Nelson Jr. nabbed the steal and took off down the court with Battle. The two charged toward the basket, passing around defenders before Battle finished at the rim.
The Colonials strung the momentum in their favor and whittled the deficit down to two points four times, but the Explorers had an answer for every GW attempt.
Both teams, who shot below 60 percent from the charity stripe in the first half, cleaned up its performance from the free throw line in the second frame. On the day, the Colonials hit 22-of-32 and were led by Jack’s perfect 7-of-7 shooting. The Explorers netted 18-of-23.
Despite outscoring the Explorers by four points in the second half, the Colonials could not overcome the first half deficit. GW fell to La Salle 72–62.
“We’re all in the same race right now trying to mature, trying to figure out,” Christian said. “I love our team and I love our ability to figure things out. It’s a race to maturity and the team that gets there the fastest has the best opportunity to win this thing at the end.”
The Colonials are back in action Wednesday in the Smith Center for a rematch with Richmond. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.