Men’s basketball picks up win in final nonconference home game before A-10 slate

Media Credit: Maya Nair | Photographer

Senior guard James Bishop netted in 30 points, two rebounds and shot 7-7 from the free-throw line.

Men’s basketball defeated the Coppin State Eagles 83-71 at the Smith Center Tuesday, notching a key win in their final nonconference game at home this season before Atlantic 10 competition kicks into gear.

The Colonials (6-4) shot 45.9 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from beyond the arc against the Eagles (4-9) with consistently high-quality looks from midrange and from deep that turned a slim 2-point lead in the first quarter into a 14-point cushion by the fourth quarter. Senior guard James Bishop netted 30 points to lead the way for GW while collecting two rebounds and shooting 7-7 from the free-throw line.

Graduate guard Brendan Adams scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Colonials, followed by freshman guard Maximus Edwards who dropped a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. GW is now set to hit the road with momentum on their side for the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Classic Thursday before entering their conference slate next month.

“It is big, any game you are able to win is a huge win, no matter who you are playing,” Bishop said in a post-game press conference. “It was a great win for us and definitely some good momentum going into the Hawaii trip, a lot of confidence from everyone in the locker room.”

The Colonials’ defense got off to a slow start in the first quarter, trailing Coppin State through the first four minutes. The Eagles got on the board first with a layup, followed by a score in the Coppin State paint by senior forward Ricky Lindo Jr.

The Eagles and Colonials exchanged a pair of 3-pointers, and the lead would go on to change hands six times throughout the first half until a 3-pointer from graduate student guard EJ Clark kickstarted a 6-point run for GW.

The Eagles netted 21 points in the first 10 minutes of the game while the Colonials’ defense struggled to keep the Eagles from stretching through the paint and netting in consecutive shots. The Colonials controlled their possessions with 10 offensive rebounds in the first 11 minutes of the first half to hang onto the ball and increase shot opportunities.

The Colonials responded with a 12-0 run that put them up by 4 in the 18th minute. GW remained ahead by less than 5 points in the final nine minutes, finishing the half with a 2-point lead, 34-32.

The Colonials shot 39.3 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from the 3-point line in the first half, a significant drop-off from their season average of 48 and 34 percent, respectively.

Bishop got GW going with a layup to kickstart the second half and led the Colonials in scoring for the rest of the game, dropping 21 points in the second half.

The Colonials grew their lead to 11 points in the first seven minutes of the second half while the Eagles went scoreless for the following three minutes. Down by 14 in the fourth quarter, Coppin State only managed to inch 2 points closer as the game ended 83-71.

After the back-and-forth affair in the first half, the Colonials’ offense pulled ahead by a steady double-digit margin for the rest of the game. Senior guard Sam Sessoms led the Eagles’ offense with 23 points, the fourth-highest scorer in the country with 23.7 points per game.

“I thought we did a good job on Sessoms in the first half,” Caputo said. “He is such a talented player. We have to continue to get better defensively. That is no secret. We got the right stops when we needed them.”

Edwards, Adams and Bishop broke out with stellar performances with Bishop recording his second-highest point total all season. 

The Colonials’ next game will be against the Washington State Cougars Thursday, which will jumpstart the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu. The Cougars are ranked 66th in the country.

The Colonials will return to the Smith Center in January and start conference play against the UMass Minutemen.

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