Men's Basketball Downed by Penn State

Yuta Watanabe finished with a team-high 18 points
Dec. 9, 2017

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The George Washington's men's basketball team concluded its away-from-home non-conference slate on Saturday afternoon, and while a loss at Penn State evened the Colonials record at 5-5, GW has nearly made it through a gauntlet of Ken Pomeroy's top-50 programs that saw the team take on Florida State (27th) in Tallahassee, Xavier (12th) and K-State (34th) in Las Vegas, and Temple (46th) on the neutral floor of Capital One Arena before falling to the Nittany Lions (41st) in Happy Valley, 74-54.

With a week off now for final exams, the battle-tested Colonials can look forward to a sixth top-50 program in Miami, which is 15th in Pomeroy's rankings and 10th in the Associated Press poll. The Hurricanes blow into GW's Charles E. Smith Center for a nationally-televised noon tip-off on Saturday, Dec. 16th on CBSSN.

Against Penn State, GW made it harder on itself than it already was in the road Big Ten environment by not finding its shooting range in the Bryce Joyce Center until the second half. The Colonials, who had shot a combined 50 percent in their three-game winning streak, mustered a disappointing 5-of-23 shooting performance in the first 20 minutes, while seeing the home team's familiarity with their rims yield a 20-of-34 effort for the Nittany Lions. That disparity led to a 48-19 halftime margin for Penn State, and while the Colonials have made a habit of strong second half performances, the hole was too deep to dig out of.

"We dug ourselves a monster hole," said head coach Maurice Joseph. "We had to make some decisions, make some choices about what kind of team we want to be in terms of our grit, our competitive spirit, our will to compete, and I thought we came out in the second half a little bit more spirited, but this is a great lesson for our young team to understand that we can't come into any road game, never mind a good opponent, and not be spirited, and not be enthusiastic, and not play with a great sense of toughness and grit."

The Colonials did open the second on a 7-0 run, and outscored Penn State 33-26 in the second half thanks in part to 48 percent shooting. On the strength of 13 second half points from Yuta Watanabe, GW made a run at closing to within less than 20 several times in the second, but the Nittany Lions always had an answer. Watanabe finished with a team-high 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting, while tying Arnaldo Toro with a team-high six rebounds. Jair Bolden netted 12 to join Watanabe in double figures and he sunk GW's two makes from three-point range.

On the other side, all five starters scored 10-plus points for Penn State, paced by Tony Carr's game-high 19 points and four assists. Mike Watkins was an interior beast for the Nittany Lions with a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double and a game-high four blocks.

GW will now be home through the new year, as after facing Miami next weekend, GW concludes non-conference play with D.C. dates with New Hampshire (12/20 at 7pm) and Harvard (12/23 at noon), before beginning A-10 action by welcoming the Saint Joseph Hawks to the Smith Center for the conference opener on Saturday, Dec. 30th at 4pm.



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