GW jumped out early in Saturday’s matchup with Duquesne, leading by five after the first seven minutes of action. But at the 12-minute mark, sophomore guard James Bishop fumbled, and the Dukes stole the ball and captured the lead for good.
The Colonials (2-7, 1-1 A-10) spent 32 minutes chasing the Dukes (2-1, 1-0 A-10), but the home team couldn’t prevail, closing the first of back-to-back games against Duquesne 75-63. Duquesne’s bench dominated the matchup, scoring 43 points to GW’s six points from outside the starting five.
“I didn’t feel like we were competing as well in the second half as we were in the first – [we] just didn’t have that connective energy,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “Play in, play out, sub in, sub out, from the start of the second half until there was about five minutes left, I felt like we were really fighting to have that kind of energy.”
Bishop and sophomore forward Jamison Battle provided the bulk of the Colonial’s offense. The duo took a combined 58.2 percent of GW’s total shots and scored 60 percent of the team’s points, netting 21 and 17 points apiece.
Graduate student forward Matt Moyer recorded his third double-double of the season, collecting 11 boards and sinking 14 points to round out the Colonials in double digits.
Duquesne spread the wealth in its first game since Dec. 2. Five Dukes scorers finished in double-digit scoring, and four players collected five or more rebounds. Twelve players also saw action, and no one played more than 28 minutes.
The Colonials and Dukes shot at similar percentages from the field, hitting 43.6 percent and 48.3 percent, respectively. But the major difference came from three-point land. Duquesne rattled eight triples through the rim, while GW could only get three treys to fall.
The Colonials also tied their lowest three-point shooting percentage of the season at 18.8.
GW was also not recording assists at its typical rate, finishing the game with just four dimes compared to Duquesne’s 17. The Colonials averaged 13 helpers heading into the game and were coming off a season-high 18 assists in its A-10 opening win against Fordham Thursday.
“We had five passes that ended in fouls, so that’s potentially five assists,” Christian said. “And those fouls went to the free throw line, and on three of those, we didn’t make any of the two free throw attempts. So that’s potentially six more points for us on the board. I think that can be a little bit misleading because we just weren’t finishing plays today.”
The Colonials jumped out of the gate with strong defense, holding the Dukes scoreless for almost three minutes and without a field goal until the 16:43 mark. In the meantime, Bishop started the scoring with two jumpers and sophomore forward Chase Paar chimed in with a point from the charity stripe.
A dunk from sophomore forward Hunter Dean and a jumper from Battle kept Duquesne at a five-point deficit. As the Dukes crept within one point of the lead, Moyer and Dean combined to work the advantage back up to five points.
Duquesne pieced together a 12-point run to take its first lead of the game that it never relinquished. After six minutes without a field goal, freshman guard Lincoln Ball hit a jumper in the paint to begin chipping away at the five-point hole.
Battle and Bishop combined for 13 of the Colonials’ last 14 points in the half, and GW went into the break trailing 33–29.
“We have two dominant players with the ball like Jamison and James,” Christian said. “Its easier for the guys to learn how to play off them because the defense has to play those guys a certain way. So we’re going to take advantage of how the defense is going to play them to create more opportunities for everybody else.”
Duquesne started the second half with a free throw – a statistic that polarized the two teams. The Dukes completed 11-of-15 from the charity stripe, while GW only sank 12-of-26 for its lowest free-throw percentage of the season.
The Colonials stayed within striking distance in the second half, but Duquesne began to dominate the offensive boards, collecting 10 rebounds in the second frame compared to two rebounds on the offensive glass in the first half.
On three straight possessions, the Dukes collected four offensive boards that led to three buckets. In the final 20 minutes, Duquesne netted all 13 of its second chance points.
GW managed to stay on Duquesne’s heels, with Moyer supplying nine points over seven minutes. But the Dukes began to stretch the lead out further, ending the contest on a 6-1 run bolstered by free-throw shooting.
“Nothing more important than mental rest right now, and both teams play a pretty physical style of basketball on both ends of the floor,” Christian said. “It’s not going to be a physical thing as much as mental.”
The Colonials and Dukes had a rematch in the Smith Center Sunday, which GW narrowly won by two points.