When the halftime buzzer sounded during the men’s basketball’s game against AP No. 3 Dayton, GW was neck-and-neck with the No. 1 team in the conference.
Down a point heading into the break, freshman forward Jamison Battle cut his way through traffic and wrestled back the lead with a layup, sparking renewed vigor in GW’s offense. But the Colonials (12-19, 6-12 A-10) were unable to sustain the momentum, allowing the Flyers (29-2, 18-0 A-10) to pull away and dropping the game 76–51.
“I thought we played good basketball for about 30 minutes today, and the last 10 minutes of it we weren’t there,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “But I thought for 30 minutes we played really well.”
The Flyers showcased deadly accuracy from the floor, attempting only three more field goals (51) than the Colonials (48) but draining 54.9 percent of those attempts compared to GW’s 39.6 percent.
With this win, Dayton nabbed the 2019-20 regular-season crown. Christian said seeing a team playing at the highest level and watching them celebrate is an educational opportunity for the team.
“We’re closer than people think, and we’ll get it, and we have a chance to be a really dominant team in this league someday,” Christian said. “We’re not there today, but I think we do a great job of learning from those ahead of us right now and those who are playing really well.”
Battle was the only Colonial to nab double-digits during the contest, taking 16 points with four triples and seven rebounds. Battle has netted a shot from deep in every game this season. The rookie leads the roster with 87 triples on the season, followed by junior guard Maceo Jack with 82.
GW had no answer for Dayton’s primary offensive forces, redshirt sophomore forward Obi Toppin and junior guard Jalen Crutcher. The two players combined for 48 points, representing 63 percent of the Flyers’ total production.
“Both of those guys are NBA-caliber players,” Christian said. “The only thing you can really do is try to keep those guys out front and try to do a great job of making them play at the half-court, and we just weren’t able to do that during those last minutes of the game.”
The Colonials won the tip and got things rolling with a jumper from freshman forward Chase Paar, but Toppin retaliated with a dunk to put the Flyers’ on the board. Battle regained the lead with a jumper, a move he would repeat three minutes later by draining a three off a Dayton turnover.
GW went on an 11-0 run to take a 19–12 lead over Dayton. Three straight triples kicked off the run, with redshirt senior guard Armel Potter hitting one and Battle sinking two. Potter capped the run, connecting on a jumper and giving the Colonials’ their largest lead of the game.
But the Flyers answered with a 10-point run of its own. Redshirt junior guard Ibi Watson hit two shots from deep in that stretch. Jack ended the run, sinking his first three of the night. He tacked on one more shot from deep to end the half. The Colonials trailed by one heading into the break.
The Flyers’ offense kicked into gear in the second half, scoring almost twice as many points (50) than in the first frame (26). They posted a 37.5 field goal percentage in the first half compared to a 70.4 in the second. Their shots from three-point territory were falling in the second half too, increasing their efficiency from 3-of-9 to 8-of-11.
GW sunk 10 shots from the field in the second frame, one more than it did in the first half, but its three-point shooting dropped off. The Colonials hit just 2-of-7, down from its first-half total of 6-of-16.
The two squads contested for the lead for the first six minutes of the second period, but neither side was able to gain a lead greater than one possession. Dayton’s offensive edge finally won out, scoring 37 points in the remaining 13 minutes to seal GW’s fate.
Christian said during GW’s best stretches, the squad was able to control the pace of play and disrupt Dayton’s usual high-octane offense, a skill the squad will need to utilize in the A-10 Tournament.
“They’re a great team,” Christian said. “They’re one of the best offensive teams in the country, but I thought our guys did a good job of controlling the tempo and really slowing down the game. I thought that kept us in the game and that’s something we’re going to need against Fordham.”
With the regular season concluded, the Colonials, who tabbed a No. 11 seed in the A-10 Tournament, will face No. 14 Fordham Wednesday. Tipoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.