GW Men's Hoops Hosts Sacred Heart in Non-Conference Home Finale
GW (5-6) vs. Sacred Heart (2-8) | Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 | Charles E. Smith Center | 2 p.m.
Dec. 29, 2012
WHO: GW Men's Basketball (5-6)
WASHINGTON - George Washington men's basketball plays its final non-conference home game of the season when it hosts Sacred Heart at the Charles E. Smith Center on Sunday afternoon. GW returned to campus on Wednesday to begin preparation for just their second game in 19 days and first since a 76-67 triumph over VMI on Dec. 22 that halted a three-game slide. The Colonials will seek to even their overall record at 6-6 and improve to 3-3 at the Smith Center with a victory over the Pioneers.
Sunday's meeting will be the first ever between the Colonials and the Pioneers of the Northeast Conference. It's also the first between national championship coaches Mike Lonergan and Dave Bike. Coach Lonergan led his alma mater Catholic to the 2001 NCAA Division III crown, while Bike guided SHU to an NCAA Division II title in 1986.
Seniors Isaiah Armwood and Dwayne Smith scored 18 points apiece and GW pulled away in the second half for a 76-67 victory over VMI at the Smith Center on Dec. 22. The Colonials improved to 4-1 this season when holding their opponent below 40 percent shooting by limiting the Keydets to 36.7 percent (22-60) and their second-lowest scoring output of the season. VMI entered the game ninth in the nation in scoring at 82.2 points per game. Armwood added nine rebounds to narrowly miss his fifth double-double of the season, while Smith made 8-of-11 field goals en route to his season-high 18 points in just 12 minutes off the bench. The Colonials posted a double-digit rebounding margin for the fifth time this season with a +15 edge on the glass (48-33), and also made 19-of-22 foul shots while enjoying a 42-20 edge in points in the paint in the victory.
Isaiah Armwood continues to pace GW and the Atlantic 10 in several categories, including rebounding (8.9 rpg), blocks (3.1 bpg) and double-doubles (four), and also leads the team and is 16th in the league in scoring (13.8 ppg). Despite not having a block against VMI, Armwood climbed to eighth in the NCAA this week at 3.1 blocks per game. He has also reached double-figures scoring in five straight games, averaging 16.6 points over that span.
Dwayne Smith has increased his contributions on the offensive end of late, capped by his 18-point outing against VMI. Over his last three games, Smith is averaging 13.3 points on 64 percent shooting (16-25) in just 14.3 minutes an outing.
Sacred Heart plays its third game in 21 days and its second straight Atlantic 10 foe when it visits GW on Sunday. The Pioneers are coming off a 100-71 loss at La Salle on Dec. 22, their sixth consecutive loss overall.
SHU surrendered 66 first-half points in its recent loss at La Salle, and at 77.3 points per game allowed ranks 332nd nationally in scoring defense.
Offensively, the Pioneers rely on redshirt senior guard Shane Gibson, who leads the team with 17.1 points per game after finishing fourth in the nation last season at 22.0 points per game. Gibson is aided by forward Louis Montes' 12.7 points and team-best 6.5 rebounds per game, as well as guard Phil Gaetano's 7.1 assists per game, the ninth-best rate in the nation.
GW and SHU have one opponent in common this season in Rutgers. The Pioneers dropped an 88-62 decision at the RAC on Nov. 12, while the Colonials were edged 68-65 on the road on Dec. 11. The Pioneers' victories have come against Yale in overtime (85-82) in its season-opener and at Stony Brook (64-62). The win over the Seawolves is SHU's lone road victory in six tries this season.
Coach Dave Bike is in his 35th season at the helm at Sacred Heart, trailing only Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim for coaches with the longest tenure at one school. Bike boasts a career record of 522-487, including a 30-4 mark and NCAA D-II title in 1986, but has gone 147-243 since SHU moved to Division I prior to the 1999-2000 season.
The Colonials will complete the non-conference portion of their schedule with a visit to Georgia on Friday, Jan. 4. The game can viewed live on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and Comcast Sports Southeast, as well as ESPN3 and WatchESPN, and heard live on 1500/820 AM.