Colo­nials show some fight

BUT­LER 59, GE­ORGE WASHINGTON 56

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY GENE WANG wangg@wash­post.com

Ge­orge Washington nearly comes all the way back from 17 down in the sec­ond half be­fore los­ing to No. 14 But­ler, 59-56.

Ge­orge Washington men’s bas­ket­ball Coach Mike Lon­er­gan ear­lier this week called Satur­day’s game against 14thranked But­ler a mea­sur­ing stick for his pro­gram.

The Colo­nials learned in a 59-56 loss be­fore a sell­out crowd of 4,488 at Smith Cen­ter just how far they’ve come in the re­build­ing process, eras­ing nearly all of a 17-point deficit in the sec­ond half and turn­ing what ap­peared headed for a lop­sided re­sult into a fren­zied fin­ish.

With his team down by the fi­nal mar­gin with four sec­onds to play, Ge­orge Washington point guard Joe McDon­ald se­cured an in­bounds pass from se­nior guard Lasan Kromah and drib­bled on the left side of the court, steps be­yond the three-point line. But the fresh­man was un­able to re­lease a shot be­fore time ex­pired, al­low­ing the Bulldogs to es­cape with a third straight win and re­main in first place in the At­lantic 10.

“There’s def­i­nitely some nerves, no mat­ter what we tried, with our young guys,” Lon­er­gan said of the game, which was the first Smith Cen­ter sell­out since 2006 and fea­tured the high­est-ranked op­po­nent in Foggy Bot­tom since 2000. “We’re still not con­sis­tent, and that’s not an easy thing to coach. But we’re coming a long ways. Like I said, I’m really proud of our team. I have no prob­lem say­ing that.”

The Colo­nials (11-11, 5-4 At­lantic 10) lost their fifth game by four points or fewer in part be­cause they shot 28 per­cent, the team’s sec­ond low­est this sea­son, missed 11 of 12 three-point at­tempts and made just 68 per­cent of their free throws (15 for 22) in the sec­ond half. Eight of Ge­orge Washington’s 13 turnovers came in the sec­ond half as well.

Se­nior for­ward Isa­iah Arm­wood led Ge­orge Washington with 14 points and 11 re­bounds and added two as­sists and two steals. McDon­ald scored 10 points but missed 7 of 10 shots and had four turnovers to match a game high, and Kromah added 10 points to go along with five re­bounds and a team-high three steals.

Rot­nei Clarke led But­ler (20-4, 7-2) with 14 points.

“This team I thought was play­ing as well as any­one around,” But­ler Coach Brad Stevens said of the Colo­nials, who en­tered hav­ing won four of five. “Their ag­gres­sive­ness and as­sertive­ness will get them a lot of wins. They’re a good team.”

Trail­ing 48-31 with 12 min­utes 2 sec­onds left, Ge­orge Washington got the mar­gin be­low dou­ble fig­ures af­ter a 15-7 run that con­cluded with Kromah’s layup. But­ler got the lead back to 10, but the Colo­nials coun­tered by scor­ing six of the next seven points to pull within 57-52 with 1:34 to play.

GW fresh­man guard Pa­tri­cio Garino missed an open layup be­fore Roo­sevelt Jones missed two free throws for But­ler, which shot 38 per­cent, com­mit­ted 19 turnovers, its sec­ond most this sea­son, and in the sec­ond half shot 58 per­cent (11 for 19) from the foul line. Kromah soon there­after scored on a put­back, and McDon­ald’s two free throws with 44 sec­onds to play got the Colo­nials to 57-56.

Af­ter Kellen Dun­ham’s two foul shots com­pleted the scor­ing, McDon­ald missed a three-pointer with 14 sec­onds to go, and But­ler’s Kameron Woods se­cured the re­bound. The Bulldogs called a timeout, but Jones turned over the ball be­fore Ge­orge Washington’s Ne­manja Mi­kic missed a three-pointer and team­mate Dwayne Smith col­lected the re­bound.

The Bulldogs swarmed Smith, com­pelling of­fi­cials to rule a jump ball. The pos­ses­sion ar­row pointed to Ge­orge Washington, set­ting up the fran­tic clos­ing mo­ments in which McDon­ald ap­peared to draw con­tact coming off a screen with­out a foul be­ing called.

“It just goes back to the lit­tle things ear­lier in the game we think about,” McDon­ald said of the loss. “For in­stance turnovers, missed free throws, things like that. If we had cap­i­tal­ized on that, maybe it would have been a dif­fer­ent out­come.”

PHO­TOS BY TRACY A. WOOD­WARD/THE WASHINGTON POST

ABOVE: GW’s Dwayne Smith and But­ler’s Kellen Dun­ham go af­ter a re­bound un­der the Colo­nials’ bas­ket. RIGHT: Lasan Kromah draws a shoot­ing foul against the Bulldogs’ Erik Fromm. Kromah had 10 points, five re­bounds and three steals for GW. “This team I thought was play­ing as well as any­one around,” But­ler Coach Brad Stevens said of the Colo­nials.

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