Seconds after the opening tip, Hampton launched an off-target triple. Sophomore guard Chris Shelton recovered the offensive rebound, and Hampton made another attempt from deep that missed the net. A second offensive board from Shelton led to a layup in the paint that put the Pirates on the board first.
Second chance points made all the difference in men’s basketball’s 82–78 loss to Hampton Tuesday. The Pirates (1-0) collected 15 offensive boards to the Colonials’ (0-2) five, resulting in a 16-2 swing in second-chance points.
“I felt like our defense, our rotations were better,” Christian said. “You’ve just got to continue to work to get better, to know where we have to be a little bit tougher. And I felt like they had a couple wild shots at the end of the shot clock because we didn’t have a sense of urgency.”
Turnovers were another point of contention for GW. In its first game of the season, the Colonials turned the ball over 16 times at Navy. Against Hampton, the Colonials committed 17 turnovers.
“Seventeen turnovers hurt us again,” Christian said. “Those are opportunities where we’re scoring the ball at such a high level right now, especially at the free throw line, and we get those down to 12 and 13, like normal, we’re in a pretty good place. We’re just not there yet. And we’re under construction.”
The Pirates’ shooters were less efficient than the Colonials, firing at a 39.7 percent clip compared to the Colonials’ 46.6 percent. But Hampton made 20 more shot attempts, including 21 points from GW turnovers.
Three-point shots also landed better for Hampton than GW. GW’s zone defense forced the Pirates to the perimeter, and they netted 10-of-33 from deep, but GW could only sink 3-of-16. The Colonials went cold from behind the arc in the second frame, missing all six attempts.
“I’m encouraged because I feel like that we took a step offensively because the quality of shots we’re getting were excellent, but we definitely have to finish them,” Christian said. “That would have changed the outcome.”
Sophomore guard James Bishop said guarding the perimeter was a key part of the game plan, but the squad wasn’t able to fully execute.
“That was a big point of emphasis when we came in, and we just came up short in getting them off the line stopping them from shooting threes,” Bishop said.
Bishop carried the night for GW, posting a career-high 22 points and seven assists. Graduate transfer forward Matt Moyer, sophomore guard Jameer Nelson Jr. and sophomore forward Jamison Battle combined for 40 points and 20 rebounds. For the first time in his GW career, Battle did not make a triple despite five attempts.
Hampton started the scoring off with four straight points before GW responded with a five-point tilt to take a marginal lead. The first half would see 10 lead changes as both teams jockeyed for an advantage.
A triple and block by senior guard Maceo Jack put GW out front, and a commanding dunk from Moyer gave the Colonials a six-point lead – their largest lead of the first half.
GW’s perimeter defense produced stops for the first 10 minutes of the half, but it began to fizzle after Hampton sank three consecutive triples. Christian called a time out just under half way through the frame to regroup, and the Colonials regained the lead, riding a 10-4 run in the next three minutes.
Hampton answered with a run of its own and ended the half with a slim 37–33 lead.
The second frame started with shaky ball handling on both sides, clocking a combined five turnovers in the first two and a half minutes. Two made free throws from Jack and a layup from Battle evened the score, and the two squads stayed close for the first half of the frame.
Sophomore forward Chase Paar finished in traffic to put GW up by seven, but that lead quickly evaporated as Hampton’s sharpshooters launched rockets from long distance.
GW partly made up for the offensive disparity by taking advantage of Hampton’s foul trouble. The Colonials forced 30 trips to the charity stripe – 21 attempts in the second frame – and were rewarded with 21 points from free throws. The team cleaned up its shooting percentage from the line, improving 9.1 percent from its first outing.
The Colonials had it tied at 74 points apiece with just more than three minutes to go, but they watched the game slip out of their reach with an 8-4 Hampton run to close out the contest 82–78.
“We all could play harder,” Bishop said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily what we could have done on the offensive end. I think it all boils down to just effort and playing harder.”
Next up, the Colonials will seek their first win of the season on the road against Towson Monday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
This article appeared in the December 3, 2020 issue of the Hatchet.