Colonials find just enough offense to end skid
George Washington doesn’t get many chances to showcase itself on television these days, and there is a reason for that: The low-scoring, poor-shooting Colonials can be tough to watch at times. But those who stayed until the end of Saturday’s game against Saint Louis at Smith Center saw GW slog its way to a 52-46 victory as the Colonials ended a four-game losing streak.
“ This was definitely a pretty slow game,” said Tony Taylor, who along with Dwayne Smith combined to score 32 of GW’s 52 points.
Slow doesn’t even begin to describe the pace of play Saturday. The game trudged along as both teams went long stretches without scoring.
It is a mystery why the Atlantic 10 would choose this matchup to televise, given Saint Louis’s history in Washington. Smith Center seems to bring out the worst in the Billikens, and this game had all the characteristics of the one on Jan. 10, 2008, in which Saint Louis set a modern Division I record for fewest points in a game, a 49-20 loss.
Saint Louis (7-13, 2-5) is not a high-scoring team in the best of times. The Billikens entered the game with the lowest-scoring offense in the conference at 61.6 points per game. But on this day, their futility was remarkable. Saint Louis went more than 13 minutes in the second half without scoring, and yet the Billikens only trailed by five points when they finally broke their drought.
GW (11-10, 4-3) has had its own problems on offense this season. The Colonials are only averaging 66.1 points per game. In their previous home game, they scored only 49 points in a loss to St. Bonaventure.
Even though GW knew points would be hard to come by against Saint Louis, the Colonials struggled on offense. Throughout the game, their scoring came in fits and starts. GW opened the game by scoring eight points in a little more than five minutes, then remained stuck on that number for the next five minutes.
When GW did score, it came in bunches. After Nemanja Mikic’s three-pointer broke the Colonials’ dry spell, they scored on their next three possessions to pull to 19-18. But before GW could take the lead, it turned the ball over on its next three possessions as Saint Louis went up 25-18. GW had 10 first-half turnovers that the Billikens converted into 13 points.
Alittle more than five minutes into the second half, Kyle Cassity’s layup put Saint Louis ahead, 38-33. Cassity’s basket was the last field goal Saint Louis made until Mike McCall sank a threepointer with 1 minute 18 seconds to play that cut GW’s lead to 49-44.
“I thought our defense really finished the game off,” GW Coach Karl Hobbs said.
Taylor, who had broken out of a scoring slump against Xavier on Wednesday when he scored 21 points, sank a three-pointer with 11:16 to play that cut Saint Louis’s lead to 38-36. He tied the score almost 11/ minutes later by making a pair of free throws, part of a 14-1 run by the Colonials. Taylor scored 19 points to lead GW.
Smith gave GW its first lead since 2-0 when he made a pair of free throws with 7:18 remaining. He had 13 points, a career-high 13 rebounds and a career-high three blocks.
“I love doing the dirty work,” he said. “I love getting rebounds and loose balls. . . . It helps us win. I’ll do anything so that we can win.”
After Smith’s foul shots, GW did not trail again.
GW has been a streaky team all season. Now that the Colonials have ended one streak, they’d like to start another by stringing together wins, not losses.
“I’ve said this countless times: Consistency is a true measure of success,” Hobbs said. “ That’s what we’re fighting right now with this team is to play at a certain level consistently, individually as well as a team, and that’s going to be a challenge for us for the rest of the season.”