Men's Basketball Pushes Kansas State to the Wire
Arnaldo Toro scores a career-high 21 points in a 67-59 defeat
LAS VEGAS -- In its second game in as many days against another major conference foe, the George Washington men's basketball team showed it will be no easy out come Atlantic 10 play nor in the A-10 Championship in DC in March. This time the Colonials battled the Big 12's Kansas State, and proved to be up for the challenge against a team that won a game in the NCAA Tournament a year ago.
Backed by sophomore Arnaldo Toro's career- and game-high 21 points, GW took the Wildcats to the wire before succumbing at the end, 67-59. The first half saw K-State take a 38-29 lead into the intermission, but true to form as in each of the young Colonials four losses this season, GW was down but never out.
Toro, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, hit a three out of the halftime break to get back within six, and though the Wildcats extended back to double digits, it was merely setting the stage for an edge-of-your-seat final stages of the second half for Colonials faithful. After trailing by as many as 15, GW stormed back with a 15-2 run to get back within two with just under five minutes to play.
The Wildcats gave themselves a bit of a cushion and extended to a six-point margin, but then freshman Terry Nolan Jr. was hacked trying a three and went to the free throw line at the 1:55 mark with a chance to bring GW within three. Nolan buried two of the three freebies, but that was as close as the Colonials would get despite the second half comeback try.
"We have to take these hard lessons and get better from them," said head coach Maurice Joseph. "Winning is hard, I tell our guys that every day. You have to make winning plays for 40 minutes, every single possession on both sides of the ball if you want to come out on top. We're just not there yet."
Toro also finished with a game-high tying nine rebounds, two steals and two three-pointers in four attempts, showing a solid inside-outside game by the 6-foot-8 forward from Puerto Rico. Grad transfer Patrick Steeves dropped in 11 on 5-of-6 shooting, but GW's other starters couldn't get it to fall in Orleans Arena in a combined 7-of-30 shooting outing.
Kansas State's starters were able to find the range, however, and provided all of the Wildcats' scoring in a contest that saw just five points come off either teams' bench. Three of those came via GW freshman Maceo Jack's first career three-pointer.
The trio of junior guard Kamau Stokes from Baltimore (19 points, 6-of-11 fg), junior forward Dean Wade (17 points, nine rebounds) and classmate Barry Brown Jr. (15 points, three assists) was just too much for the less-experienced Colonials to totally overcome. Sophomore Jair Bolden did register a game-high four assists for GW in his nine-point, six-rebound performance, while the Colonials were effective sharing the ball with 15 assists on 22 made field goals. Also on the plus side for GW, a team-rebounding effort led to a 37-26 edge on the glass.
After spending Thanksgiving in Vegas competing against a pair of teams who are now a combined 10-2, the Colonials have almost a week off from play to recuperate and prepare for Morgan State. GW hosts the Bears on Wednesday, November 29th at 7pm.
"There are a lot of things we have to clean up but we have the foundation of competitive spirit, fight and resilience, so I'm thrilled with that," said Joseph. "Now we just have to understand we have to execute on offense, get stops on defense down the stretch, own the glass and put it all together."
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