Nine games into the season, men’s basketball is still struggling to gain momentum.
The men’s squad (2-7) lost five of their last six games, beginning with a 56-67 loss to Massachusetts Lowell (5-3) Nov. 19, marking their fourth consecutive loss at the time. After leading by nine points at the end of the first half, the Colonials were outscored 41-21 by the River Hawks in the second half.
“I thought we played well enough defensively to get the victory but we just got to figure out what we got to do on offense to score the ball and at this point we haven’t figured it out yet,” head coach Jamion Christian said.
Massachusetts Lowell started strong, earning a 10-0 lead with 14:44 left in the first half. The Colonials scored their first points of the game with 13:54 remaining, as junior guard James Bishop drew a 3-point shooting foul and sank all three free throws. Shortly after, Junior forward Qwanzi Samuels grabbed a rebound and passed it to freshman guard Brayon Freeman, who pushed the ball in transition and hit a tough layup with 13:34 left.
The Colonials continued to score at a rapid pace for the next three minutes, with a Brendan Adams three pointer capping off a 19-2 run that put the score at 19-12 with the Colonials in front with 10:35 left in the half.
GW held on to their lead for the rest of the half, due in large part to the play of Bishop, who scored 12 first half points and hit a jump shot with six seconds left, which put the score at 35-26 at halftime. The Colonials were also helped by Freeman, who scored seven points on 3-of-3 shooting and sophomore guard Joe Bamisile, who scored six points and grabbed 8 first half rebounds.
The Colonials hit 5-of-7 first half 3-pointers compared to the River Hawks’ 3-of-15 from deep. They found success in pushing the ball and attacking in transition, scoring 10 points off of fastbreaks and making 10-of-12 from the free throw line.
“The quality of shots we got in the first half were so good, how we were moving the ball offensively,” Christian said. “The second half we just didn’t move the ball as well. Part of that is they were getting to the free throw line a lot through the second half to kind of slow momentum down”.
The River Hawks started the second half on a 6-0 run, getting back within three points with 18:19 left. A jumper by forward Alin Blunt tied the game at 39-39 with 15:27 remaining in the second half.
The River Hawks went on to outscore the Colonials by 11 points through the rest of the game, finding great success in the paint, scoring 17 of their final 19 points off of points in the paint and free throws.
With 2:08 left in the game, the Colonials started intentionally fouling UML in hopes of slowing the game down and getting more opportunities to score. With one minute left, the Colonials started a full court press on UML, which the River Hawks were able to easily break- leading to two consecutive dunks by forward Max Brooks within 10 seconds of each other. This effectively sealed the game with 0:47 left as the River Hawks were up 65-54 at this point. The River Hawks went on to win the game by 11 points: 67-56.
The Colonials shot just 28.6 percent from the field in the second half compared to Massachusetts Lowell’s 54.8 field goal percentage. GW allowed 21 points off turnovers in total, while only scoring nine points themselves off of River Hawk turnovers.
“We just got to make better decisions. You know, I think a lot of what I’m looking at is 19 turnovers. But we probably have, you know, five to 10 shot turnovers, particularly tough shots. And when you miss those shots, you give them easy shots in transition. We just got to get- we just got to get tougher and tougher and just better on the offense before we make a decision.”
Despite the loss, the Colonials put up a strong defensive showing, limiting the River Hawks to 14.3 percent from beyond the arc and outrebounded them 43-36.
“Our guys were great defensively,” Christian said. “They were flying around, they were connected, we made them take a lot of tough shots. We rebounded the ball to finish possessions. They were one of the best 3-point teams in the nation, so we did great in that area.”
Following the home loss, the Colonials went down to the Naples Invitational. After taking down Wright State (1-5) Nov. 22 in a 74-63 over the Horizon League champions.
The Colonials shot at a then season-best .475 clip from the field while keeping the Raiders to 35.4 percent shooting and 12 points below its season scoring average.
Despite shooting at another season-best 52 percent from the floor in the semifinal against Kent State (4-2), the Golden Flashes nearly matched them with 51.9 percent to emerge victorious 77-69.
The Colonials trailed for the whole second half but went on a 10-0 scoring run to cut the deficit to four with 47 seconds left, before Kent State converted a free throw and a layup to quell the comeback.
The Golden Flashes took better chance of their opportunities, scoring 18 points off of 13 GW turnovers, while burying 10 three point buckets in total.
After jumping out to an early 11-3 lead, the Colonials fell behind 33-26 by halftime. Kent State extended their lead in the second half, pushing it to 17 four minutes in, effectively consolidating their lead as the Colonials attempted to chip away for the rest of the game.
In the third place game Nov. 24, the Colonials pulled within seven points of Missouri State (4-3) in the second half, but the Colonials ultimately fell 72-54 to slip to fourth place.
After trailing by just seven points in the first five minutes of the second frame, Adams stole the ball and attempted a dunk on the breakaway before being taken down midair. GW suffered two technical fouls afterward, and the Bears compiled a 12-0 run over 90 seconds to regain a 19-point lead and never looked back.
Bishop led GW in scoring for the fifth straight game, accumulating 17 points and a pair of assists and rebounds. Bamisile earned 12 points, posting double digits for the seventh time this season.
The Colonials will look to bounce back after suffering another home loss to Boston University Wednesday night. The Colonials will hit the road again to take on Charlotte Saturday for a 2 p.m. tipoff.