GW Men's Hoops Heads to A-10 Semis With 85-77 Win Over UMass
Six Score in Double Figures as Colonials Tie Second-Most Wins in Program History
March 15, 2014
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - GW men's basketball moved into the Atlantic 10 Championship semifinals for the 12th time in program history with an 85-77 victory over Massachusetts at Barclays Center on Friday night.
GW (24-7) had six players score in double figures for the second time this season to reach the A-10 semifinals for the first time since capturing the 2007 crown and 12th time in 36 all-time tournament appearances. No. 3 seed GW will face No. 2 VCU in the A-10 Semifinals on Saturday at 4 p.m., in a contest televised on CBS Sports Network.
The Colonials also won their fourth straight game and posted their 24th victory of the season, which matches the 1997-98 and 1954-55 teams as the second-most in program history, in front of more than 2,000 GW students, alumni and fans in Brooklyn.
Senior Isaiah Armwood and sophomore Patricio Garino led the way with 15 points apiece, marking Garino's 13th consecutive game scoring in double digits. Senior Nemanja Mikic provided a bench boost with three 3-pointers and 14 points in 12 minutes, and graduate student Maurice Creek and sophomores Joe McDonald and Kevin Larsen all added 12 points.
Larsen grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, McDonald matched a game-high with seven assists, and Creek chipped in a game-high four steals.
It was Massachusetts (24-8) which eliminated GW from the 2013 Championship in a first-round slugfest that featured 14 ties and 19 lead changes. Friday's quarterfinal seemed destined for the same battle with two ties and two lead changes in the opening four minutes.
However, Mikic came off the bench and buried back-to-back three pointers for an early 13-7 lead that the Colonials never relinquished. The first-half cushion swelled to 12 on additional threes from Mikic and McDonald, but the Minutemen closed within 35-31 in the final minute.
Reserve Nick Griffin hit a corner three 17 seconds before the break, then GW picked off the ensuing inbound and Armwood converted 10 seconds later for a 40-31 halftime lead.
The Colonials allowed the Minutemen to get no closer than eight points the rest of the way, seven times pushing the margin back into double figures after UMass had trimmed the margin to eight or nine. The quartet of Creek, Garino, Armwood and Larsen combined for 37 second-half points, including three 3-pointers and 12 points from Creek, who moved into a tie for second on GW's single-season three-point list with 77.
GW finished at 50.8 percent (30-59) from the field, including 9-of-21 behind the arc, to improve to 10-1 this season when making more than half its shots.
A-10 SEMIFINAL PREVIEW - GW vs. VCU
After splitting a pair of regular season meetings, with each team winning on their home floor, GW and VCU battle again in a rubber match on Saturday in the second game of the Atlantic 10 Championship semifinals. A trip to Sunday's championship game versus either No. 4 seed Saint Joseph's or No. 9 St. Bonaventure is on the line.
Behind career-best efforts from sophomores Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen on January 14 at the Charles E. Smith Center in the district, the Colonials halted the Rams' Havoc with a 76-66 victory. Garino finished with a career-high 25 points, including 17 in the second half, while Larsen's career-high 22 points and eight rebounds paired with frontcourt teammate Isaiah Armwood's 11 points and 14 rebounds to fuel a commanding 45-29 rebounding edge. GW also shot 56 perfect from the field in the win.
VCU evened the season series with a win at the Siegel Center in February, but after Friday night's GW victory against UMass, the Colonials are now 4-1 in neutral court matchups this season with wins against Miami, Creighton and Maryland in addition to the Minutemen.
GW fared well against both teams in Saturday's other semifinal matchup earlier this season, having defeated the Bonnies, 79-71, on the road in Olean, N.Y. on January 18, before concluding a 14-1 regular season at home with a 76-71 win against Saint Joseph's on Senior Night on March 5.