Men’s basketball picks up first conference win

Media Credit: File Photo by Rachel Schwartz | Staff Photographer

Interim University President Mark Wrighton attended Monday's game and was embraced by the team after the win.

Men’s basketball picked up their first conference win of the season Monday afternoon over local rival George Mason.

In a game of runs, the Colonials (5-10, 1-2 A-10) emerged victorious 78-77 for the first time since Dec. 13 while the Patriots (7-7, 0-1 A-10) dropped their third consecutive game after a 16 day layoff due to postponements.

“You got to respect us every game,” sophomore guard Joe Bamisile said. “I think when you have a losing record, it’s really easy to come play a team and think they’re just going to lay down and die but we’re fighting every game.”

Both teams were missing key players due to injury coming into the Revolutionary Rivalry matchup.

The Colonials were without graduate student guard Brendan Adams, senior forward Ricky Lindo Jr, and sophomore center Noel Brown, all of whom were injured in practice this week. Meanwhile, the Patriots were missing junior forward Josh Oduro, who has led the team in scoring with 17 points per game this season.

“I’ve talked all year long about how resilient our team has been,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “We were obviously missing a few guys today, but we gained so much with the guys that were able to step out there on the floor.”

The game came down to the wire after GW stormed back from a 72-59 deficit with 6:09 remaining. In the last six minutes GW went on an 18-4 run capped off by the game winning layup by Bamisile.

“The whole time we had composure,” Bamisile said. “For me and James, we were talking the whole six minutes like we’re still going to win. We had no doubt we were going to win. We’ve had a great last week of practice so we just wanted to show the world that we really work.”

Bamisile finished with a career-high 26 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. Junior guard James Bishop also had a strong game on both ends of the floor, scoring 23 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists, three steals and no turnovers.

The Colonials started the game with energy and barely trailed during the first half despite junior forward Hunter Dean picking up two fouls in the first 12 minutes of the game, forcing GW to play a smaller lineup with junior forward Qwanzi Samuels playing as the big man.

Graduate student guard Bryan Knapp saw his most significant action of the season so far, playing 18 minutes in place of the injured Adams and finished with three points on 1-of-5 shooting from the field.

The effects of the 16-day layoff were evident in the first half for George Mason, who trailed 35-31 at halftime. But the momentum flipped coming out of halftime.

Dean picked up a third foul less than a minute into the half and the Patriots scored 20 points in the opening six minutes to jump out to a 51-44 lead.

The defensive and rebounding ability of Lindo was sorely missed by GW, especially in the second half as George Mason outrebounded the Colonials 17-9 and shot 59.4 percent from the field to score 45 points. But the GW offense was able to keep pace and ensure the game didn’t slip away, thanks in large part to a pair of back-to-back threes by Bamisile.

The highlight of Bamisile’s afternoon was a ferocious dunk over sophomore forward Malik Henry to tie the game at 57 with 9:30 remaining that earned him the No. 2 spot in the SportsCenter Top 10 of the day.

Following the dunk, a technical foul was called on Bishop for celebrating Bamsile’s dunk in the face of Henry.

“I was just super excited,” Bishop said. “I just wanted to go crazy and I felt like it was deserving of that.”

But the momentum shifted back to the Patriots, who went on a 13-0 run in the next three minutes.

A few minutes later Bamisile brought the Colonials back by blocking a 3-pointer and throwing down a signature windmill dunk to cut George Mason’s lead to 74-66 with 3:40 remaining in the game.

Dean followed Bamisile’s dunk with one of his own off an alley-oop from Bishop to make it 74-68 going into the final media timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Bamisile drew an offensive foul and the Colonials converted a putback layup from Dean to cut the deficit to 74-70.

The Colonials forced a shot clock violation on the Patriots next possession and reduced the lead to 74-73 thanks to a tough drive to the basket by Bishop, who also drew a foul on the play.

Samuels gave GW a 75-74 lead with a dunk off a feed from Bishop with 28 seconds left. George Mason head coach Kim English called a timeout and drew up a play that gave the Patriots the lead and their first points in over four minutes.

Christian then took a timeout of his own with seven seconds remaining.

Bishop inbounded to Bamisile, who faked a handoff back to Bishop and drove to the basket and finished at the rim to give the Colonials a 77-76 lead with three seconds left. Those would be the last points of the game as George Mason threw the ball out of bounds on the ensuing inbound following a timeout.

The Colonials hit the floor Wednesday at 7 PM at Saint Joseph’s after the game was postponed from Jan. 2 due to COVID-19 protocols.

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