Men’s basketball falls to VCU, extends skid to three games

Media Credit: File Photo by Arielle Bader | Senior Photo Editor

Junior guard Maceo Jack led the men's team in scoring at the game against VCU.

A triple from junior guard Maceo Jack put men’s basketball momentarily ahead, but a barraging second half from VCU stifled the Colonials, who clocked in their third straight loss Saturday.

The Colonials (12-17, 6-10 A-10) were defeated by the Rams (18-11, 8-8 A-10) 75–51. Despite the deficit reaching just four points at the half, a commanding second frame performance by the Rams handed GW a definite loss.

“We really handled that same level of pressure well in the first half,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “We just didn’t come out in the second half and handled it as well as we had in the first. We just weren’t able to get the ball to the people in the place we needed to be effective.”

Jack led the Colonials in scoring with 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field. Senior forward Arnaldo Toro and freshman forward Jamison Battle notched 10 points apiece, with Toro coming off the bench for 18 minutes of action.

After Jack’s three-point bucket, the Rams quickly responded with two deep threes of their own. Battle finished a layup to pull the Colonials within a point. Freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. nabbed a steal, but Battle couldn’t connect on the three-point attempt.

The Rams went on a 10-point scoring run capped by two back-to-back three-balls. Battle got the Colonials back on track, ending the run with a basket from beyond the arc. A series of three free throws worked the Rams’ lead back to double-digits with about 10 minutes left in the half.

The Colonials found some rhythm after Jack nabbed a steal and finished the play with a jumper on the fastbreak. His effort started a seven-point scoring run for GW.

Despite the momentum shift, the Rams kept the Colonials at bay, hitting another shot from beyond the arc to end the run. Nelson Jr. responded swiftly, slamming home a one-handed dunk off a stolen pass. He and Jack both had two steals on the night.

The Colonials and Rams traded baskets throughout the last six minutes of the half. When GW and VCU headed into the locker room, the Colonials trailed 32–28.

GW finished the half 44 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc. The Rams also shot 44 percent from the field but outgunned the Colonials from three-point territory, hitting nearly 55.6 percent of their shots to maintain the lead.

In the second half, VCU took control of the game. The Rams set the tone early with a three-point shot 45 seconds in. Despite a retaliatory three-point strike from Jack, the Rams proceeded to march on an 11-point scoring run.

The Colonials’ shooting decreased in the second half as they only hit 7-of-21 from the field and 2-of-8 from beyond the arc. From the charity stripe, GW shot at a .526 clip on the night, improving slightly from its last outing against Richmond, where the team connected on 50 percent of attempts.

“I think we’ve been putting ourselves in the right positions to get to the free throw line,” Christian said. “We’ve been good there all year long. We’ve been shooting them all the time in practice, sometimes you just go through these ruts. It’s a long season.”

For the final 14 minutes, the Colonials struggled to trade baskets consistently and convert their free throw opportunities as the Rams continued to pull ahead further. The Rams captured their largest lead of 27 points with one second remaining before senior guard Adam Mitola sunk a three-point attempt to send the Colonials off behind 75–51.

The return of junior forward Javier Langarica, who checked in for the first time since Dec. 21 after missing two months with a hand injury, was a bright spot for the squad. He recorded five minutes, one assist and a defensive rebound.

VCU stifled redshirt senior guard Armel Potter, allowing him just six points and four assists. He turned the ball over nine times throughout the contest. Potter, who logged 39 minutes on the court, had his lowest scoring performance when playing 20 or more minutes since Jan. 11 against Duquesne.

“Most of the time we want the ball in his hands and he gets everybody going,” Christian said. “He’s a guy we have so much confidence in. We just needed him a ton. There was a lot of pressure out there today and a struggle to get the ball to the right places.”

The Colonials return to the Smith Center for their final home game of the regular season and senior night Wednesday. Tipoff against Fordham is slated for 7 p.m.

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