Men's Basketball Takes Care of Business vs. New Hampshire
Steeves scores 23, Watanabe double-doubles with 18 points and 11 boards in a 68-64 win
WASHINGTON -- In the penultimate non-conference game of the 2017-18 campaign, the GW men's basketball team welcomed the Wildcats of New Hampshire to the Charles E. Smith Center and scratched its way back to .500 on the season nearing the end of a grueling non-conference schedule. In the 68-64 win, the Colonials turned to their most experienced duo to come from behind.
After falling behind by as many as 12 midway through the first half, grad student Patrick Steeves and senior Yuta Watanabe wouldn't be denied the win. Steeves led the way with a game-high 23 points, seven rebounds and team-high tying five assists, in an efficient evening that saw him shoot 9-of-12 from the floor. Watanabe did his part in an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double that also featured a 4-of-8 shooting display from three-point range.
GW got it done by finding enough holes in the UNH zone and forcing the issue on the defensive end to turn defense into buckets at the other end. The Colonials forced 17 Wildcats turnovers and parlayed their thievery into 24 points. Meanwhile, GW's ability to protect the rock yielded just nine turnovers for the home team and five subsequent UNH points. That 24-5 disparity in points off turnovers was critical in the close four-point ballgame.
Also key for the Colonials, who can finish the out-of-conference gauntlet with a winning record if they're victorious against Harvard on Saturday, was continued prowess hitting the offensive glass. Watanabe's five offensive boards and Steeves' four were paramount as though UNH outshot GW, .521 to .453, thanks to their interior efforts, the home team outdid UNH 22-10 in the paint and 16-4 in second chance tries.
GW trailed at halftime, 33-29, after allowing UNH to connect on 56 percent of its first half shots, before a renewed intensity in the second stanza paved the comeback trail. The Colonials also found the range from the charity stripe a bit clearer in the second half. After struggling to the tune of 5-of-11 free throws made in the first 20 minutes, GW sunk nine of a dozen second half tries, while also limiting their America East foe to seven free throws total.
Freshman Terry Nolan Jr. approaches the end of his first non-conference go-around by continuing to lead the club in steals. With three more picks on the night, the frosh now has 24 steals in 12 games as a collegian (2.0/spg). Nolan Jr. also racked up five of GW's 16 assists -- while committing just a single turnover -- as the generous George Washington team assisted on two-thirds of its baskets on Wednesday night.
Tanner Leissner paced UNH with 14 points, while Darryl Stewart contribute 12 with a team-high five assists. Iba Camara left with game-high rebounding honors with 12 caroms collected.
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