The Smith Center was boisterous this afternoon, with the Colonials' student section clad in togas and armed with flags. However, the home court advantage was not enough for George Washington Saturday. The Minutemen eked out 67-61 win in the final seconds, handing the Colonials their first home loss of the year in the process.
Chaz Williams continued to struggle on both sides of the floor, due in part of being in foul trouble for most of the game, finishing with just eight points (3-11 from the floor and 1-5 from the stripe) to go along with six assists. He did however have a game sealing steal with 12 seconds to go pushing their lead to five.
Sampson Carter was the real star of the game having an impressive day with a career high 20 points and four three pointers.
The first half saw both teams go back and forth as there were seven lead changes and four ties until Carter hit a three at the seven minute mark giving UMass the lead. The Minutemen held onto that lead until midway through the second half.
Williams exited the game at the 7:48 mark of the first half, after picking up his second foul. Trey Davis came in and helped keep the Colonials at bay as they made a late first half push to close the gap from 10 to three thanks to five points from Patricio Garino. Garino kept the Colonials in it all game long, scoring a team high 20 points.
The highlight of the first half was an in-bounds pass initiated by Derrick Gordon (11 points) to Raphiael Putney who finished the thundering alley-oop pass that started a faint chant from the UMass faithful who made the trek to our nation's capital.
Putney ended up with a team high nine rebounds and eight points despite having four fouls.
The first ten minutes of the second half were dominated by UMass thanks to Cady Lalanne who stepped up his interior defense with two monstrous swats, and scored six of his eight total points in that span.
GW point guard Joe McDonald took care of the grunt work for his team as he hauled down a game high 10 rebounds and passed out seven assists while only scoring four points.
At the 10:30 mark of the second half with UMass leading 51-41, Carter picked up two quick fouls within nine seconds of each other. This led to a 16-7 run fueled by Maurice Creek (11 points) and Isaiah Armwood that saw the Colonials take a 58-57 lead with 5:17 left. Armwood scored 16 and secured eight rebounds on the day.
That was the last lead of the game for GW as UMass quickly retook the lead from Cady Lalanne who finished a lob pass thrown by Williams.
UMass was able to seal the victory on free throws even though it shot a repulsive 12-26 from the charity stripe, a problem that has plagued the Minutemen recently.
This win puts the Minutemen at the 20 win benchmark (20-5) and puts their conference record at 7-4, while GW drops to a respectable 19-6 and also with a conference record of 7-4. GW is still in the upper half of the A-10 and has a schedule that should let it finish the regular season on a high note.
UMass now has to prepare for a big A-10 showdown in Amherst as it welcomes VCU to an already sold out Mullins Center next Friday on ESPN.