Men's Basketball Opens Conference Play With a Win
Watanabe leads four in double figures with 18 as GW knocks off Saint Joseph's, 70-64
WASHINGTON -- In the first game of Atlantic play and the final game of the calendar year, the George Washington men's basketball team put together a complete defensive effort in a 70-64 win over Saint Joseph's at the Charles E. Smith Center.
The Colonials led wire-to-wire after stifling the Hawks in the first half with a defense that yielded just a .276 (8-of-29) field goal percentage in the opening stanza, including 1-of-11 from long range. For the game Saint Joseph's shot .368 from the floor against a ball-pressuring Colonials D that wouldn't let the Hawks find a rhythm with only seven assists in the contest.
Offensively it was Yuta Watanabe who paced the Colonials with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting in his team-high 38 minutes, while doing his typical yeoman's work on defense. Watanabe was key in limiting the Hawks' leading scorer Shavar Newkirk to 2-of-11 field goals and 10 points after he entered the game averaging 17.7 points per game.
Threes were wild for the Colonials behind the three-point arc as a trio of GW guards each hit three triples. Watanabe was an efficient 3-of-5 from the land of plenty, while Jair Bolden registered nine of his 16 points in the game on 3-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. Freshman Terry Nolan Jr. meanwhile connected on three trifectas in eight attempts and finished with 14 points. Arnaldo Toro was a fourth Colonial in double figures in the scoring column with 10 while double-doubling with his game-high 12 rebounds.
Ultimately though as head coach Maurice Joseph is quick to note, the game was won on defense. Despite being outscored in the paint, off turnovers, on the break and by the Saint Joseph's bench, all the while making and attempting fewer free throws and turning the ball over more than the Hawks, it was the grit and grind of the GW defense that limited the opposition's good looks at the bucket, while cashing in on their own chances on offense. James Demery was the lone Hawk to truly get anything going offensively with his game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, but sans Demery's offense the balance of the Hawks connected on just 12-of-41 field goal tries. Demery also had a team-high eight rebounds, while Pierfrancesco Oliva's pair of dimes represented the only multiple assist game on the Saint Joseph's side.
The Colonials have now forced opponents into poor shooting nights in consecutive games, as they limited Harvard to 28 percent from the floor a week ago.
As winners of three straight games and now sitting at two games above .500 (8-6) for the first time all season, GW will look to stay perfect in conference play in its first conference road test of the season on Wednesday night at Duquesne. Duquesne will also bring a 1-0 conference mark into play on Wednesday after dropping last season's regular season champion, Dayton, 70-62 in its league opener.
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