Nemanja Mikic hit three 3-pointers during a three minute span in the first half that would give the George Washington Colonials an 18-9 lead at the 11:24 mark. GW would never look back as it would lead for the rest of game on its way to an 85-77 win over the UMass Minutemen. GW would only allow UMass to get within four points for the rest of the game. The only time UMass did have a lead was at the 17:34 mark when Chaz Williams hit a three to give the Minutemen a 5-4 lead.
GW was led by balanced attack with six players scoring in double figures. Isaiah Armwood and Patricio Garino both had a team-high 15 points with Armwood hitting an array of deadly right handed baby hooks that were unstoppable in the paint.
Maxie Esho had another career day for the Minutemen as he had a game high 22 points and led the Minutemen in rebounding with seven. He had multiple hustle plays including an offensive rebound that ended in an explosive two-handed slam. He was efficient from the field shooting 7-for-11 and shot an equally impressive 8-for-10 from the free-throw line.
The Colonials controlled the first half decisively until the last two minutes when UMass made a mini-run. Esho had a steal at the top of the key that led to a one-handed flush on the other end, then Derrick Gordon capped UMass' scoring when he made a tip-in with 44 seconds left in the half cutting the GW lead to 35-31. But GW came down the floor and answered with a three and the ensuing in-bounds by UMass was stolen by Maurice Creek and Armwood flew back for the lay-up to crush the UMass push and put the lead to nine at the half.
Three-point shooting was the biggest factor for GW as it made 9-of-21, including a big night from Mikic who was 3-for-5 from three and ended up with 14 points.
Maurice Creek had 12 points, including three 3-pointers as he helped Joe McDonald run a very good back-court game. McDonald had a very impressive game scoring 12 and added in eight dimes.
Chaz Williams struggled early again as seems to be the norm as of late. He only had three points in the entire first half, and didn't hit his first basket of the second half until the 8:41 mark. He would finish the game with 19 points and seven assists, most of those points coming at the end of the game as he attempted to get UMass back in the contest.
Cady Lalanne was a non-factor yet again, in what is becoming a disturbing trend. For a player who was so dominant for much of the regular season, he only mustered four points and six rebounds and did not record a block.
The second half started right where the first one left off. Kevin Larsen scored on a layup after only 17 seconds of play. UMass would struggle to get stops on the defensive end, which resulted in difficulty cutting into the GW lead.
Gordon would play decent, scoring eight points and providing his usual physical play while Trey Davis had a rough game from the arc, shooting just 1-for-6, finishing with seven points and two assists. UMass would cut the lead to eight after a Williams three with just under seven minutes to play. Rarely used freshman Demetrius Dyson would foul Mikic on a 3-pointer and Mikic would make all three, pushing the Colonial lead back up to 66-55 and ending UMass' best run at regaining the lead.
UMass would make another desperate attempt at GW in the last three minutes of the game, but was quickly squashed once the Colonials started to make their free-throws. Larsen was a key player for GW as he had 12 points and had a team-high eight rebounds.
Derek Kellogg didn't like what he was seeing down the stretch from most of his starters, so he emptied his bench which allowed us to see some little used players. Dyson hit both of his shot attempts from deep as he made the most of his time on the floor while we also saw Clyde Santee, Seth Berger and Tyler Bergantino.
While UMass would have liked to advance deeper into the A-10 tournament, this loss doesn't hurt their seeding in big dance as much as a loss against URI would have. The Minutemen should still end up with a seed anywhere from No. 6-8 depending on what other at-large teams do this weekend. More concerning than what their seeding will be is the lack of production from everyone not named Maxie Esho or Chaz Williams during the A-10 tournament. Sampson Carter will need to find his 3-point touch and Cady Lalanne will need to get more offensive touches to take pressure off of Chaz and improve UMass' half-court scoring.