Sophomore guard James Bishop fired a pass to sophomore forward Jamison Battle as he cut to the hoop, kissing the ball off the glass for men’s basketball’s first points of the game. Two more layups followed, and GW found itself off to a 6-0 start against Coppin State Saturday.
The Colonials (1-2) kept the pace throughout the game, holding the Eagles (0-2) from hedging a lead to win its first game of the season 85–69. GW dominated the paint in its first victory of the season, ripping 55 boards and netting 54 points from the lane.
“People are choosing to take away our shooting and making us finish on the inside, and it’s great to be talented enough to be able to do that,” head coach Jamion Christian said.
A trio of forwards stuffed the statistic sheet in the rebounding and scoring columns. Graduate student forward Matt Moyer, sophomore forward Chase Paar and Battle each recorded a double-double and combined for 50 boards and 48 points. Moyer led the trio with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting, and Paar snatched a game-leading 16 rebounds.
“Chase Paar and Jamison Battle and myself, we just had to make sure we held down the glass and that was our biggest focus,” Moyer said.
Bishop was one assist away from joining the double-double club, dishing out nine helpers and netting a team-leading 20 points. He has recorded at least 20 points in all three outings this season.
Sophomore guard Jameer Nelson Jr. recorded a career-high six steals, accounting for 75 percent of the team’s steals.
The squad fired at an efficient clip, making 50.8 percent of its shots from the field. But its three-point shooting has yet to help the team’s offense. GW launched just 13 shots from deep, making only three from long range. Christian said the Eagles’ three-point defense neutralized the Colonials, forcing them inside for point production.
“They really take the three-point shot away from you, so we really had to take advantage in the inside,” he said. “A year ago, I don’t know if we could have won this game on the inside like we were able to finish that ball in the lane.”
But Coppin State’s three-point shooters benefited from GW’s zone defense that left gaps in the perimeter, taking 40 shots from three-point land. The Eagles were only slightly more efficient than GW, hitting 27.5 percent of buckets from beyond the arc. Junior forward Domantas Sakickas sunk 4-of-8 three-point attempts.
After GW’s 6-0 run to kick off the game, redshirt senior guard Anthony Tarke got Coppin State on the board with a free throw. The Colonials and Eagles traded buckets before GW began building its lead.
The Colonials went on a nine-point run, bolstered by four points from the charity stripe, to extend its lead 21–6 eight minutes into the half. GW found itself at the line 24 times Saturday and sunk 75 percent of its free-throw attempts.
After working the lead up to 17, Coppin State started to settle into its offense and went on an 8-2 tilt. Christian called a timeout, but another triple and an offensive rebound putback whittled the Colonials’ lead to two possessions with seven and a half minutes in the half.
A triple from junior forward Sloan Seymour – his second of the game – and inside work from Moyer, Bishop and Battle boosted the lead back to double-digits. An Eagles’ layup at the buzzer sent GW back to the locker room with a 42–33 advantage.
The Eagles charged at the deficit in the second half, going on a 15-4 run to tie the contest at 56.
After leading for the entire contest, GW switched on the gas and went on a 13-1 run of its own to retake a 12-point lead with six minutes on the clock. The Colonials and Eagles traded baskets for the next five minutes, but GW retained its double-digit lead.
Moyer scored the game’s final points in dramatic fashion, handling a pass from Battle and smashing it through the rim for his third dunk of the contest. GW walked away with its first win of the season and an 85–69 victory.
Turnovers have proven to be a constant thorn in the Colonials’ side in its first two games, as the team averages 17.7 a game, and Saturday was no different. In the first half, GW turned the ball over 12 times, leading to 13 points for Coppin State. As the final buzzer rang, GW had committed a season-high 20 turnovers.
“We just have to make sure we’re valuing the basketball and getting better at it,” Christian said. “We’ll continue to work on it in practice. We’re playing at such a faster pace that sometimes guys have the ball, and they haven’t had the ball in that position before. We’ll continue to get better at it. That’s the biggest thing we have to do with it.”
The Colonials are back in action Monday at UMBC. The squads will tip off at 4 p.m.