After jumping out to an 11-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game, men’s basketball looked like it was on its way to closing out the nonconference schedule with a victory last week. But in the final 13 seconds of the game, GW trailed by one point.
Out of the timeout, GW’s play broke down and a high pressure defense kept the squad from getting a shot off. Junior forward Sloan Seymour had the ball stolen from his hands in the final seconds as the 49ers took the ball and the game.
The 49ers (4-3) battled back to win 66–65 over the Colonials (1-6). GW rode a four-game skid that saw the team fall by an average of four points and just one possession in the final three matchups of nonconference play.
“I just thought our team really grew up today, and that’s the kind of connectivity we got to have to be a great team,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “It wasn’t good enough today as we finished points short, but I’m really impressed with our growth.”
Sophomore guard James Bishop led the Colonials with 20 points and sophomore forward Jamison Battle trailed behind with 19 points. The two combined to shoot 50 percent from the field. Graduate student forward Matt Moyer netted 12 points and was one rebound away from his fourth double-double of the season.
Sophomore forward Hunter Dean saw his first action as a Colonial, becoming eligible after sitting out the latter half of last season and the first few games of this season per NCAA transfer rules. The big man played 23 minutes and was 1-for-1 from the field to finish with three points and three rebounds.
Sophomore guard Jahmir Young sunk a floor-leading 21 points to propel the 49ers to victory. Redshirt senior guard Jordan Shepherd followed behind with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field.
Both teams were equally matched offensively, shooting an identical 48.1 percent from the floor. The Colonials sunk seven made triples to the 49ers’ six, and GW hit 8-of-9 from the charity stripe while Charlotte hit 10-of-17.
But in the first four minutes, GW had full control of the game, notching 11 straight points and holding the 49ers scoreless from the field for four and a half minutes. Bishop, Battle, Moyer and sophomore forward Chase Paar all netted buckets during the run, combining scoring from the perimeter and paint.
“We just had great pace offensively playing with a chip on our shoulder defensively as well – things that we’ve really been working on as a unit,” Christian said. “Again, it’s all about us being really connected as a group, and I feel like that first unit of guys was just so connected and just defensively, they really got us off to a great start.”
Out of the first media timeout, Charlotte regrouped and dashed out to a 10-3 run over a four-minute span. Sophomore guard Brice Williams and Young each contributed five points to the run that brought them within two possessions of the Colonials.
Another six straight points, including four points in a row from Paar, pushed Charlotte to a 10-point deficit. But a seven-point 49er tilt brought the squad within striking distance and one possession of GW’s lead.
A pair of swished free throws from Moyer and a layup from Bishop pushed the advantage back to three possessions. GW and Charlotte traded buckets to close out the half, until Dean surged past his defender along the baseline and smashed the ball through the rim in an explosive end to the first 20 minutes of play.
Charlotte jumped out of the gate, scoring five points in the opening 90 seconds of the half to pull the team within one. Bishop and Battle quelled the comeback with back-to-back layups.
When Williams responded with a bucket, freshman guard Lincoln Ball, who earned his first start of the season, answered with a layup down low.
“A guy that I just really trust and I believe in, and we just want to keep making plays for our team in the way that he can,” Christian said. “Him getting a start today was definitely a key reason why we got off to such a great start.”
Charlotte earned its first lead of the game five minutes into the first half. Both teams jockeyed for the lead for another six minutes, never letting its opponent out of a two-possession reach.
Charlotte began heating up with less than 10 minutes to play and GW began to get cold. The 49ers ran away on an eight-point run – all of which came from layups. Senior guard Maceo Jack snapped the scoreless streak with a triple, but GW still trailed by two possessions.
With less than three minutes in the contest, Bishop and Battle popped off behind the three-point line, scoring triples on three consecutive possessions. Charlotte held steady, nailing its free throws down the stretch.
Down one point with 13 seconds on the clock, Christian called a timeout and strategized with his team. Out of the break, Bishop fell victim to a high trap. Seymour caught the ball above the three-point line, but had it stolen from his hands as time expired on a 66–65 loss.
“We’ve just got to make a lot of small plays,” Christian said. “We’ve got to execute better out of timeouts. That’s something that we haven’t done this season, and we’ve just got to continue to get better at it. We just haven’t done a great job of that, and I thought we had a pretty good look at the end and didn’t didn’t get a shot up, which is not good.”
The game marked the final in the buff and blue for Jack, sophomore guard Jameer Nelson Jr. and senior forward Ace Stallings, who all left the team within 10 days of the nonconference closer.