GW Men's Hoops Returns to Dayton for Tuesday's A-10 First Round
#11 GW (10-20) at #6 Dayton (19-11) | Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | UD Arena | 7 p.m.
March 5, 2012
WHO: #11 seed George Washington Men's Basketball (10-20)
DAYTON, Ohio - Three days after finishing the regular season at Dayton, No. 11 seed George Washington men's basketball will return to UD Arena to face the No. 6 seed Flyers in the first round of the 2012 Atlantic 10 Championship. The Colonials, who dropped a 75-59 decision to the Flyers on Saturday, will seek their first win at UD Arena since 2005 and their first A-10 Championship victory since capturing the league title in 2007.
The winner of Tuesday's first-round matchup between GW and Dayton will move on to Atlantic City, N.J., and Boardwalk Hall for a Friday quarterfinal contest against #3 seed Xavier (19-11, 10-6) at 9 p.m.
GW makes its 34th appearance in the Atlantic 10 Championship, and holds a 22-31 all-time record in the tournament with titles in 2005 and 2007. The Colonials have played in the first round on campus sites in each of the last two seasons, dropping a 70-60 decision as the #10 seed at #7 seed Dayton in 2010, and losing as the #5 seed to #12 seed Saint Joseph's, 71-59, in overtime at Charles E. Smith Center last March.
A victory by a No. 11 seed over a No. 6 seed in the A-10 Championship is not unprecedented as #11 Massachusetts upset #6 Charlotte, 59-56, in the 2010 first round. The current 12-team A-10 Championship format began in 2006 after East/West divisional play was dissolved and #11 teams are 1-5 against #6 teams over that period.
In both teams' regular-season finale at UD Arena on Saturday, GW trailed Dayton, 31-27, with just over two minutes left in the first half, but the Flyers strung together an 18-2 run over the next five and a half minutes for the largest differential of the game, 49-29. The Colonials would only get as close as 11 over the final 16 minutes to drop their fourth straight game at UD Arena. Senior Tony Taylor (17 points) and juniors David Pellom (18) and Lasan Kromah (16) combined for 51 of GW's 59 points, but the Flyers made 10-of-16 three pointers to keep the Colonials at arms length the entire game. Pellom made 9-of-11 shots and narrowly missed his fifth straight double-double with a game-high-tying nine rebounds. Taylor made 8-of-10 free throws in the second half to finish with 17 points, and Kromah scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half.
GW last won at UD Arena on Feb. 26, 2005 on Carl Elliott's last-second steal and half-court running heave at the buzzer that broke a 59-all tie for a 62-59 victory.
Sophomore forward Nemanja Mikic was named to the Atlantic 10 Conference All-Academic Team on Monday, the 12th Colonials men's basketball player to earn the accolade since it was first awarded in 1991. Mikic joins the likes of three-time recipients Yegor Mescheriakov (1997-99) and Alexander Koul (1996-98), as well as Alex Kireev (2004), Omo Moses (1993), Eric Withers (1992), Byron Hopkins (1991) and Rodney Patterson (1991) as GW players to earn All-Academic Team honors. GW is now the second-most decorated A-10 program in the category, trailing only St. Bonaventure's 13 selections. Mikic, a business administration major from Novi Sad, Serbia, has been named to the A-10 Commissioner's Honor Roll with a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in two of his three semesters at GW, and also earned a spot on the GW Athletic Academic Dean's List last month.
Through the regular season, junior David Pellom led the Atlantic 10 in field goal percentage at 69.7 percent (115-165). Pellom's 69.7 percent rate would rank second in the nation if he satisfied the NCAA minimum of five made field goals per game. Nearly a third of Pellom's field goals so far this season have been via dunks (36-of-115). Pellom's 69.7 percent shooting is threatening Joe Holup's (`56) 56-year-old single-season record of 64.7 percent field goal shooting (200-of-309) set in 1955-56, as well as the A-10 record of 66.3 percent held by Dayton's Sean Finn (2003-04). Pellom would need to satisfy the minimum of five made field goals per game to break Finn's league mark.
Dayton finished the regular season 19-11 overall and 9-7 in the Atlantic 10 for its first winning conference record in three seasons. The Flyers finished in a four-way tie for fifth place in the final A-10 standings and earned the No. 6 seed in the tiebreak.
In Saturday's win over the Colonials, the Flyers got 39 points from their four seniors playing their final regular-season home game, led by Chris Johnson, who made 4-of-5 three-pointers and 6-of-7 field goals for 19 points. Matt Kavanaugh scored 10 of his 15 points in the first half, Kevin Dillard finished with 12 points and game-high seven assists, and Paul Williams chipped in 10. Devin Oliver had nine points and nine rebounds and, along with Kavanaugh's eight boards, helped the Flyers to a 31-25 rebounding edge.
Dillard, in his first year at Dayton after transferring from Southern Illinois, averaged 12.9 points and a team-best 5.9 assists to earn Second Team All-Atlantic 10 honors, while Johnson earned Honorable Mention All-Atlantic 10 honors after pacing the Flyers with 13.0 points per game. Kavanaugh, thrust into an increased role after the loss of Josh Benson due to injury, has started all 30 games and adds 9.3 points per game.
The Flyers possess four players with 40-or-more made three-pointers this season, led by Johnson's 67 triples. UD is fourth in the A-10 in threes made per game (7.8) and paces the league in free throw shooting at nearly 77 percent.
Current GW assistant coach Pete Strickland served in the same capacity at Dayton from 1994-98 under then Flyers' head coach Oliver Purnell.