Men’s basketball fell to Atlantic 10-leading VCU Saturday in the Smith Center 74-68 in their final regular-season game despite a furious, late-game comeback from the Colonials.
Graduate student guard Brendan Adams and senior guard James Bishop, who were both honored in the pregame, senior-night ceremony, led the Colonials with 14 points each. Senior forward Hunter Dean, who was also honored, chipped in 14 points to go along with seven boards.
Right off the bat, GW struggled against the Rams’ aggressive, full-court press, but neither team could establish any consistent offensive rhythm. The score sat at just 6-6 after the first four minutes of play.
With the GW offense stagnating, Dean kept them afloat, scoring 4 of the team’s first 6 points while patrolling the paint on the other end of the court.
“He’s a good finisher,” Head Coach Chris Caputo said during a post-game press conference. “He got behind the defense a number of times, and he’s a vertical athlete that can finish plays and make some decisions on the short roll.”
As the game chugged along, the play continued to be tough and physical. A 3-pointer from redshirt freshman Maximus Edwards was followed by a stop on the other end, igniting the already-rumbling, senior-night crowd in the Smith Center and appeared to breathe some life into the Colonial offense. GW trailed 18-15 with 11:37 to go in the first half.
With just under eight minutes remaining in the half, a signature, low-post jam from Hunter Dean sent the GW crowd into a state of pandemonium. The dunk gave him a game-high 8 points and kept the momentum on GW’s side.
The Colonials would capitalize on that momentum, as three straight layups from junior center Noel Brown and graduate student guard Amir Harris compiled a 6-0 GW run as the Colonials stormed back to tie it up at 30-30. And while the Rams regained the lead, GW went into the half down a manageable 35-32, thanks in part to VCU’s putrid 2-5 first-half 3-point shooting.
VCU came out of the break swinging, going on a 6-0 run in the first two minutes of the second half and pushing their lead to 41-32.
After a Bishop sequence, which included his first 3 of the game, appeared to breathe life into the still-stagnant GW offense, the Colonials cooled off, scoring just one field goal. The Rams stretched their lead back out to 9 at 50-41.
And they didn’t slow down, as four 3-pointers from VCU guard David Shriver in the span of three minutes gave the Rams a 17-point lead, their largest of the game.
With 3:35 left in regulation, the Colonials cut the Rams’ lead to 68-55 and seemed to be on the brink of a run.
That run materialized, as an Adams elbow jumper, which he followed with a layup plus a foul on the ensuing possession, cut the VCU lead to just 5 with 2:23 to go in regulation.
A goaltending call on a layup attempt from senior forward Ricky Lindo Jr. had the Colonials within just 3. But a Rams dunk on the other end pushed the VCU lead to 70-65 with 25.1 seconds remaining in regulation.
An Adams 3 kept GW’s hopes for a senior night miracle alive with 8.8 seconds to go, but the Rams sank their free throws on the other end to seal the VCU victory.
Adams said the team is confident heading into the A-10 tournament.
“We think we can win any game,” he said. “So going into tournament play, that’s exactly how I feel. We can win any game, and we can make a big run.”
The Colonials will enter the A-10 tournament as the No. 7 seed with a first-round bye. The team will face off against the winner of the game between No. 10 Saint Josephs and No. 15 Loyola Chicago in the second round.
GW’s game tips off Wednesday 5 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and the winner advances to face Dayton in the quarterfinals.
This article appeared in the March 6, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.