GW Men's Hoops Rally Comes Up Short in 75-60 Loss to VCU
Colonials Cut 17-Point Halftime Deficit to Six in Second Half; Mikic Leads Way with 15
Dec. 4, 2011
WASHINGTON - The George Washington men's basketball team battled back to within six at 62-56 with 5:27 to play, but couldn't overcome VCU's hot first-half shooting in a 75-60 loss to the Rams in the 17th annual BB&T Classic at Verizon Center on Sunday afternoon.
VCU (5-3) hit a season-high nine first-half 3-pointers to race out to a 43-26 lead at halftime and GW (4-3) couldn't complete the late rally despite shooting nearly 52 percent in the second half.
Sophomore Nemanja Mikic made 6-of-12 field goals, including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, to finish with a team- and season-high 15 points for the Colonials. Senior Tony Taylor climbed to 41st on GW's career scoring list with 14 points and added five assists and five rebounds. Senior Aaron Ware and junior Lasan Kromah pitched in eight points apiece.
Bradford Burgess led all scorers with a season-high 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three, to pace the Rams. Rob Brandenburg hit three 3-pointers and chipped in 12 points, followed by 10 apiece from Darius Theus and Briante Weber.
The Rams held a commanding 21-6 edge in points off turnovers, including a 16-0 advantage in the first half when their trapping full-court pressure forced the Colonials into 10 giveaways and paved the way for open looks from the perimeter.
Mikic hit two of his three 3-pointers in the opening four minutes to spark the Colonials to a 12-8 early lead. However, the Rams caught fire from behind the arc and used a 35-14 run to close the final 16 minutes of the opening period.
VCU hit 7-of-11 shots from behind the arc during the run - three from Troy Daniels and two apiece from Burgess and Brandenburg - which gave the Rams their largest lead of the game at 43-24 with 36 seconds left in the first half.
Taylor muted the spurt with a 15-foot jumper just before the horn to pull the Colonials within 17 at the break.
Coach Mike Lonergan and his staff made adjustments at intermission, and GW defended the perimeter and executed on offense to climb back into the contest in the second half.
Kromah opened the stanza with a jumper, freshman John Kopriva converted a three-point play and Taylor buried one of his two 3-pointers on the day to spark the Colonials to an 8-3 run out of the locker room to close within 12.
GW still trailed 52-38 with 13:50 left when it slowly began to chip away at the VCU lead. Junior Dwayne Smith converted another three-point play, Taylor nailed a jumper and Mikic connected on his third triple in a 9-2 spurt that narrowed the deficit to seven at 54-47 with 10:29 left.
Every time GW made a surge though, VCU had an answer.
Brandenburg and Burgess answered a pair of Colonials' baskets to help push the margin back to 10 at 59-49 with 8:25 remaining. Taylor hit another three on the next trip down the floor, only to have Burgess respond with his fourth 3-pointer of the day to keep the Rams up by 10.
GW made one last surge behind transition layups from Ware and Kromah to trim the deficit to 62-56 with 5:27 left.
VCU once again replied, getting consecutive three-point trips by Theus - the team's season-best 12th triple of the game on one possession and a conventional three-point play on the next - to maintain its double-digit margin at the final media timeout.
The Colonials would get no closer than eight in the final minutes and the Rams cemented their second BB&T Classic victory in as many appearances - the other over Maryland in 2007 - with 7-of-8 shooting at the foul line over the last 85 seconds.
The loss drops GW to 13-14 all-time in its 17 seasons of competition at the BB&T Classic.
GW returns home to the Charles E. Smith Center for the first time since its season debut on Nov. 11 this Wednesday when it hosts Loyola (Md.) at 7 p.m. The contest will be broadcast in the D.C. metro region by MASN, and can be listened to live on 1050 AM and FederalNewsRadio.com.
The game will feature a matchup between former Catholic University teammates and roommates turned head coaches in Colonials' head coach Mike Lonergan and the Greyhounds' Jimmy Patsos.