Watanabe Makes Senior Night His Night in GW Win
Yuta scores a career-high 31 points to lead the Colonials to a 72-56 victory
WASHINGTON -- It was Senior Night on Wednesday at the Charles E. Smith Center and with all due respect to grad transfers Patrick Steeves and Bo Zeigler, alongside walk-on and former manager Jack Granger -- who drew his first career starting assignment -- by the end of the night it might as well be called Yuta Night because the Japanese superstar stole the show.
With a sizable contingent, including his parents, visiting from Japan, Watanabe went off for a career-high 31 points showing the multi-faceted versatility that the next level covets. The Kagawa, Japan product drained 11-of-17 shots, including a pair of three-pointers, made all seven free throws, and otherwise filled the box score with four rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal in his typical heavy load of 36 minutes played. He had 19 points by halftime, fittingly as GW carried a 19-point edge at 44-25 into intermission, then enjoyed the Colonials' wire-to-wire lead. In winning their fourth game in the last five tries, GW made sure Yuta Night was never in doubt with a 24-point lead at its largest.
Fellow honorees, Steeves, Zeigler and Granger each enjoyed their moment in the spotlight too. By the time Steeves and Zeigler were lifted to a standing ovation as they exited the Smith Center floor for the final time, the graduate pair each hit double figures and combined to make 11-of-17 shots from the floor. Granger's four minutes included a rebound, but the highlight was the start after his teammates lobbied for the 5-foot, 7-inch former three-year team manager to be in the starting unit.
On a night when GW celebrated its outgoing student-athletes, not lost in the festivities is the future ahead. With the win the Colonials drew into a four-way tie for ninth in the conference, in the all-important battle for seeding in next week's A-10 Championship at Capital One Arena. One of the teams GW is tied with represents the final opponent of the regular season, as the Colonials travel to take on the Dayton Flyers on national television on Saturday at 3pm on NBCSN.
Notably too on Senior Night was a reminder of the youthful promise that GW holds. Starting alongside four upperclassmen, freshman Terry Nolan Jr. led the game with nine rebounds from the point guard position, while also dishing a team-high six assists in his 33 minutes. Athletic fellow frosh Maceo Jack also gave a glimpse of what's to come with his seven points in a perfect 3-of-3 effort, along with four rebounds in 14 minutes of play.
The Colonials shot 50 percent from the field and .909 at the free throw line, making more freebies (10) than the opposition attempted (9). Fordham, the opponent on the night for those keeping the books, was held to .338 shooting from the floor and .192 from three-point range.
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