Men's Basketball Slips at VCU
Colonials shoot 70 percent in first half, but cool down in eventual 87-63 loss
RICHMOND, Va. -- At E.J. Wade Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center on Saturday afternoon, the George Washington men's basketball team sought to do something it had only done once before. Win at VCU. Traditionally one of the toughest places to play not just in the Atlantic 10, but in the nation, GW had it going early in the hostile environment and battled the Rams in the first 20 minutes of action by exchanging haymakers worthy of a prize fight.
Despite shooting 70 percent from the field in the first half in its best shooting half of the season, the Colonials saw VCU nearly match that effort with a .615 effort of its own, as the home team took a 41-37 edge into the halftime locker room. While GW hung tough for the opening stanza, it was a different story in the second when the Rams pulled away and eventually secured an 87-63 win.
GW came to play from the jump sparked by freshman Terry Nolan Jr., who drained two threes in the first four minutes to start the Colonials' first half fireworks. Senior Yuta Watanabe equaled the frosh with his second triple just before the 12:00 mark of the first to knot the score early at 18-18. The teams traded blows for the next eight minutes and as the half ticked under 4:00 to play it was the senior from Japan who again put the game into another deadlock at 34-34 with his third trifecta of the period. Despite the eventual four-point halftime deficit, GW's efficient offense before the intermission yielded 10 assists on 14 made field goals.
Foul trouble got the best of the Colonials in the second and VCU took full advantage. With GW's bigs either on the bench or looking to avoid fouling, the Rams went to work inside. By controlling the glass and patrolling the paint effectively, VCU held a 44-26 advantage in points in the paint and dominated second chance points, 18-0, against the undersized visitors. VCU also held a 27-5 advantage in points off the bench against a GW team that couldn't go quite as deep into its reserves.
Watanabe finished with a game-high 19 points to lead GW offensively while Nolan Jr. tallied 15, including four three-pointers. Patrick Steeves, playing in a reserve role for the first time this season, had a team-high six rebounds and four assists off the bench. Preseason All A-10 selection Justin Tillman and De'Riante Jenkins paced VCU with matching 18-point performances, while senior point guard Jonathan Williams rang up 14 points, four rebounds and four assists.
After making Saturday's stop at VCU, the Colonials' next date doesn't get any easier. In a similarly difficult place to steal a win, GW takes to Saint Bonaventure's Reilly Center next Sunday, January 28, for a noon tip-off on NBC Sports.
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