Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Men’s basketball bursts Charlotte’s bubble in homecoming game

It was not necessarily extra motivation, sophomore Tony Taylor said, but perhaps it was fitting that GW’s 75-70 win over Charlotte tonight came in a homecoming game in front of more than 30 alumni representing all 10 of the school’s NCAA tournament appearances past.

It was not a particularly dramatic victory, the Colonials (16-11, 6-8 Atlantic 10) leading by nine at halftime and by as many as 18 in the second half before the 49ers closed with a burst of scoring to give the game its misleadingly close final score.

It was not a particularly stunning upset, GW entering the game momentarily in 10th place and Charlotte in fourth, but the Colonials having nearly beaten their guests on the road three weeks prior and entering the game having won three of four, Charlotte having done the opposite. Oddsmakers even spotted the 49ers a few points.

But what tonight’s win might have been was a step toward revisiting a successful past. Not with championship banners and national rankings and ESPN buzz – at least not yet – but with smaller accomplishments: the team’s first A-10 tournament berth since 2007, a winning record for the first time in that same span, potentially bursting the NCAA bubble of a team with postseason aspirations.

True, the first was clinched a game earlier, the second a logistical near-lock, and the third worth more in style than standing, but they are markers of progress not lost on head coach Karl Hobbs in a season he billed as part of a rebuilding process.

And while the achievement of these small objectives on the way to big-picture success is nice, sometimes the smallest of pictures that can be just as pleasing.

“The nice part about tonight’s game,” Hobbs said, “is I don’t recall anybody just throwing the ball out of bounds tonight.” He then turned to his left and asked sophomore Aaron Ware if he had any such memories.

“I didn’t do it, Coach,” Ware answered, laughing. “I’m due for one a game, but I didn’t do it tonight.”

And that was not all that Hobbs thought was nice. There was Taylor’s 16 points and turnover-less play at the point, which Hobbs more specifically said gave the Colonials stability. There was Ware’s 13 points and eight rebounds and strong defensive play, which Hobbs more specifically described as “fantastic.” And there was freshman Bryan Bynes’ 11 points, all of which came in the second half as he relieved a foul-plagued Taylor, which Hobbs more specifically said came on some “terrific, terrific finishes” in transition.

It also must have been nice not seeing Shamari Spears, Charlotte’s top scorer, torch GW for a career-high scoring night, as he did when he dropped 31 points on the Colonials in the teams’ last meeting. Hobbs said junior center Joseph Katuka to attack the basket against Spears in the paint to lure the 49ers forward into foul trouble.

Spears picked up his first foul less than 30 seconds into the game and a second two minutes later, relegating him to the bench for the rest of the first half to prevent further foul trouble.

“Last time we played them, we just couldn’t handle him,” Hobbs said. “He really hurt us, so we wanted to make sure to start the game, we wanted to go at him early… From that point on, we were able to dictate the pace of the game.”

By the time Spears was back on the floor after halftime, control was already firmly in GW’s hands. Spears finished with 12 points and five rebounds; Katuka had 10 points and five rebounds while senior teammate Hermann Opoku added seven points and six boards while spelling him.

The win puts GW into a three-way tie with Duquesne and St. Bonaventure for eighth place; those two teams meet in Olean, N.Y. Wednesday. Staying in eighth would give GW a home game in the first round of the conference tournament while slipping a spot or two would send the team on the road for its first postseason game.

Either way, the Colonials will get an opportunity to extend their season as long their play allows them, a chance most programs take for granted but that this one did not earn in recent seasons.

“This team has been subject to – and they’ve paid the price for – what has happened the last two years, but they’ve handled it with great class, they’ve handled it with great character,” Hobbs said. “These guys deserve a lot of credit for how hard they’ve worked and for getting the program back to where it needs to be.”

GW hosts Saint Joseph’s Wednesday at 7 p.m. in its final home game of the regular season.

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