Men’s basketball fell to a talented Saint Louis team Wednesday night.
The Colonials (6-12, 2-4 A-10) got a strong scoring performance from junior guard James Bishop, who finished with a career high 30 points, two assists and a rebound on 9-of-19 shooting from the floor. But the Billikens’ (13-6, 4-2 A-10) offense was too much for GW to handle in a 80-67 loss in which the home team never trailed.
“Overall I’m disappointed with our defensive toughness,” Head coach Jamion Christian said. “I felt like we were getting to a point where we’re really doing well defensively and we had a setback tonight.”
The loss continues the program’s 15-game winless streak outside of the Eastern time zone stretching back to Dec. 25, 2014. The last time the team won an Atlantic 10 game outside of the Eastern time zone was Feb. 13, 2006.
“When you’re in the A-10, you’re playing in really, really great basketball environments,” Christian said. “So there’s always a great home court advantage. At the end of the day it just really comes down to the physical toughness on the road.”
Saint Louis was led by redshirt freshman Gibson Jimmerson, who finished the game with 28 points and four rebounds on 11-of-20 shooting from the field and 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point range. Jimmerson gave the Colonial defense fits all night with his backdoor cuts and off ball movement.
“I feel like if we made Jimmerson be a passer, you know, he had 30 tonight,” Christian said. “He’s a great offensive player. I thought we could have done a better job on him.”
The Colonials struggled with turnovers to begin the game, and the Billikens made them pay, finishing with 19 points off 14 GW turnovers. Meanwhile, GW had 9 points on eight Saint Louis turnovers.
“It really put us off to a bad start because you can’t afford to do that,” Christian said. “You got to take care of the basketball. And we just didn’t do that.”
GW struggled on the offensive boards, with Saint Louis out rebounding GW 14-8 off the glass. The Billikens were able to score 15 second chance points, compared to GW’s five. Overall, the Billikens had a 39-30 rebounding advantage on the night, spearheaded by junior forward Francis Okoro, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds.
The return of senior forward Ricky Lindo following a 44-day absence due to COVID-19 and an injury could have helped the Colonials in the rebounding department. But the D.C. native only scored two points and grabbed four rebounds through 22 minutes in his return.
The Colonials saw some history unfold, as sophomore guard Yuri Collins etched himself into the Billikens record books, recording 12 assists tonight to become the all-time assists leader in Saint Louis men’s basketball history with 444.
He is second in the country in assists per game, averaging 8.26. Collins also had 11 points and five rebounds, going a perfect 5-5 from the field.
GW struggled offensively in the first half, scoring only 25 points compared to the 42 they scored in the second half. Although they found their groove in the second half, the Colonials offense was stymied by the Billikens defense, which forced them into tough shots late in the shot clock early on in the game.
The Colonials had a sluggish start to the second half, with Saint Louis scoring 4 unanswered points to start the half. Christian responded by taking a timeout 1:56 into the half to prevent further damage.
GW showed some life after that on the offensive end, but they couldn’t get the defensive stops to go along with it. By the under 12-minute media timeout, the Billikens were up by 21 points and never looked back.
GW continued to have success offensively in the middle of the second half, thanks to some impressive finishes by Bishop, sophomore guard Joe Bamisile, and freshman guard Brayon Freeman, but couldn’t get within striking distance.
Bamisile was GW’s second leading scorer with 18 points on an efficient 8-of-14 from the floor to go along with three rebounds, a block, and an assist. Freeman came to life offensively in the second half, scoring all 8 of his points, while finishing with three assists, a steal and a rebound.
The Colonials front court offense sputtered after impressing in the team’s 63-61 win over Rhode Island. Lindo was the only GW forward to get on the board, chipping in 2 points.
Although Lindo came back from injury, the Colonials were still without sophomore center Noel Brown, who has also been out with an injury. Christian said the team hopes to have Brown back for the Colonials next game.
“We’ll get back to campus, we’ll kind of see where he is,” Christian said. “We were hoping to have him tonight but he had a little bit of a setback. So hopefully we’ll get him on Sunday.”
The Colonials return to the floor on Sunday for a noon tip-off on USA Network against Fordham. The matchup with the Rams begins a crucial stretch of three consecutive home games, which also includes matchups with La Salle and No. 25 Davidson.
This article appeared in the January 27, 2022 issue of the Hatchet.