Men's Basketball Storms Back to Topple Fordham, 67-66
Cavanaugh drains three free throws with 0.9 seconds left for the win
BRONX, N.Y. -- On Wednesday night in the Bronx in the penultimate game of the Atlantic 10 regular season for the George Washington Colonials and the Fordham Rams, fans got their money's worth in the final four minutes alone in an absolute thriller at the venerable Rose Hill Gymnasium.
Despite trailing by as many as 18 in the contest, GW stormed back and engaged the Rams in a game of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better in the game's waning minutes to steal a 67-66 win and improve to 9-8 in conference play. Tyler Cavanaugh provided three clutch free throws after getting fouled with 0.9 seconds to play while attempting a three-pointer for the Colonials to escape with the win.
While Cavanaugh led the way for GW with his 13th 20-point game and 11th double-double of the season in a 20-point, 10-rebound effort, it was Jordan Roland who played the part of Larry Bird against Fordham's Civat Havsa's best Dominique Wilkins' impression in an epic last-minute duel.
Roland saved his first field goal of the game until the 3:21 mark when he connected on a corner three to pull the Colonials within 57-55, then he tied it a minute later at 57-57 with a mid-range jumper. Havsa followed with a three of his own to give Fordham the lead back with 1:55 to play, before a pair of Cavanaugh free throws and a Yuta Watanabe bucket gave GW its first lead of the second half at 61-60 with 1:10 to play. In a closing flurry that saw the lead change hands five times in the final 70 seconds, it seemed as though whoever had the last good look of the game would win.
Another Havsa three with :45 seconds to go gave Fordham the edge again with a 63-61 advantage, only to see his counterpart in Roland bury another triple on the other end to give GW a one-point cushion with :29 to play. Not to be outdone, there was Havsa again on the Rams' ensuing possession with the answer courtesy of yet another trifecta to give Fordham its last lead at 66-64 with just :11 ticks remaining on the clock.
GW's return blow came from Cavanaugh who found the ball in his hands at the top of the arc with the seconds dwindling. His three-point try was errant thanks to a Fordham foul on the shot, sending the grad student to the line with his team trailing by two and under a second remaining. His three free throws barely grazed the rim as three beauties in a row topped all of the previous theatrics, and after GW survived a desperation heave from Fordham at the buzzer, the Colonials pulled above .500 in the A-10 for the first time this season and held tight to the 6th seed in the A-10 standings.
"Seniors have to make plays like that and make big free throws," said interim head coach Maurice Joseph. "There wasn't a thought in my mind that he would miss any of them. I really thought he'd make all three."
In the second consecutive game that saw GW hold a statistical advantage in few categories, the Colonials proved their mettle by getting it done when it mattered most as the team is now 8-2 this season in games decided by five points or less. One area where the Colonials were able to dominate was in the free throw battle as GW once again set up shop at the line. The visitors banged home 19-of-26 freebies while limiting the home team to just a 3-of-5 night at the line. It marked the 14th time this season GW has made more foul shots than the opposition attempted.
"Our guys are resilient - we've shown that all year," said Joseph. "We were possessed [defensively] in the second half and guys made huge shots. I'm just so proud of this team for our grit, fight and toughness."
With the win GW has now won four Atlantic 10 games in a row, a feat that even last season's NIT Champions couldn't accomplish. The last time GW won four consecutive conference games was from Jan. 15 - Jan. 24, 2015 against Richmond, George Mason, at Fordham and vs. Duquesne. GW will look to make it five straight conference wins, a feat last accomplished by the 2014 NCAA Tournament team, against conference-leading Dayton on Saturday during Senior Night for Cavanaugh and Matt Hart at 8pm.
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