Men’s basketball slashes four game skid with A-10 opening win

Freshman guard Lincoln Ball ripped a defensive board and hurled a pass to sophomore forward Jamison Battle during Thursday’s game against Fordham. Battle charged toward the rim, finishing the breakaway slam to end GW’s first half scoring.

The bucket – his seventh made field goal of the half – gave GW an 18-point lead and sent the squad on its way to its first Atlantic 10 victory 71–47. The Colonials (2-6, 1-0 A-10) put up 38 points in the first 20 minutes of play against the Rams (0-1, 0-1 A-10), sinking twice as many field goals in the first frame.

“It’s probably the biggest victory we’ve had since I’ve been here,” head coach Jamion Christian said.

The Colonials outrebounded the Rams 42-29. GW’s players at the five spot – sophomore forward Chase Paar, sophomore forward Hunter Dean and freshman center Noel Brown – combined for 11 rebounds, 10 of which came from the defensive glass.

“Talk about our bigs today, Noel Brown, Chase Paar, Hunter Dean,” Christian said. “They’re going up against one of the strongest guys I’ve ever seen up there at the five spot, and watching them defend the way they did – the physicality – those guys are really special.”

Battle and sophomore guard James Bishop contributed a one-two punch that shot for a combined 17-of-30 from the field, including 5-of-9 from long range. The sophomore duo tallied 24 and 23 points respectively, tying the Rams’ total point production in the full 40 minutes.

Junior forward Sloan Seymour reached double figures for the first time as a Colonial, netting 11 points on 50 percent shooting downtown.

On the opposing bench, senior guard Josh Navarro and sophomore forward Joel Soriano both reached double-digit scoring, and Soriano netted 12 points and added a dozen rebounds for his first double-double of the year. Fordham saw its first live action game of the season after canceling its six-game nonconference schedule due to COVID-19 related issues.

The Colonials were dominant on both sides of the floor, boxing out Fordham’s shooters and overcoming its zone on the offensive end. The Rams made good on just 27.6 percent of their attempts, while GW made every other shot it took, firing at a .500 clip.

From three-point territory, GW rained down 47.4 percent of its shots. Fordham scored just 14.3 percent of its 14 attempts from behind the arc.

After trailing 5–0 early in the first half, Fordham bounced back to hang within one possession of GW’s lead. A triple from Seymour triggered a 13-2 spin that gave the Colonials a 13-point advantage. Fordham hit a bucket from deep to quell the flames, but Seymour responded with his third dagger from beyond the arc to stall a Rams’ comeback.

The Colonials kept their foot on the gas, knocking down 5-of-6 free throws to work the lead to 16. Battle lit up the floor, scoring all of GW’s six points within 90 seconds. Soriano netted a jumper to close out the half and the Colonials entered the locker room up 38–20.

Fordham returned to the floor and put together a five-point run that spurred a quick timeout from Christian. GW responded with a 7-1 tilt – capped with a triple from Bishop – in the following two minutes to take a 19-point advantage.

Fordham attempted to fight back, but six more points from Bishop, a layup from Battle and a free throw from freshman forward Tyler Brelsford pushed the lead to 21 points. GW never let the lead dip below the 20-point mark, holding any comeback attempt at bay.

Bishop netted 10 of GW’s last 15 points, and the Colonials waltzed into conference competition and grabbed a 71–47 win to start A-10 play. GW snapped a four-game losing streak to the Rams that dated back to the 2018-19 season.

All but 24 of GW players’ 200 total minutes were supplied by underclassmen. Christian said he was excited about the direction of the program and anticipates more wins in the future.

“Now we’re all about the guys in that locker room, the guys that are committed to being here, and I think the spirit that we showed today is something we should be accustomed to,” Christian said.

The win comes on the heel of three players – sophomore guard Jameer Nelson Jr., senior guard Maceo Jack and senior forward Ace Stallings – exiting the program. Christian said he and his coaching staff fully respected those players’ decisions to part ways.

“I care about those guys,” Christian said. “We always wish those guys well, and we’re always trying to help those guys out. There’s no malice from any of us.”

GW will return to the Smith Center Saturday and Sunday to take on Duquesne in back-to-back contests. Tipoff for the start of the two-game weekend is slated for 12:30 p.m.

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