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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Men’s basketball back at .500 after third straight win

This post was written by Hatchet Staff Writer Elizabeth Traynor

With just two and a half seconds to play Wednesday night against East Carolina, men’s basketball head coach Karl Hobbs called a timeout to draw up one final play, looking to secure his team’s third straight victory and draw GW’s record back to an even .500.

But once the Colonials broke the huddle, things didn’t go exactly to plan. The Pirates returned from their bench running a pressure defense, not the man-to-man zone GW had been expecting, so it was left to junior Tony Taylor to improvise. A month ago, the Colonials might have folded under the pressure, but Wednesday night, GW found a way to win.

Taylor, for whom the play had been drawn up, instead fired a pass to sophomore guard Bryan Bynes, who banked home an off-balance 18-foot jump shot to give the Colonials the 82-80 win in their tightest contest of the season.

“It wasn’t exactly what we drew up,” Hobbs said. “But sometimes it’s better to be considered lucky. It worked out. I thought that we had great momentum, I just thought that if we got a chance to take the last shot, I felt very good that we would win the game.”

The victory over East Carolina came on the heels of a confidence-boosting road win last Saturday against Oregon State, in which GW shot above 50 percent from the floor for the first time all season. The Colonials followed their performance against the Beavers with an even better one against the Pirates, shooting a season-high 55.6 percent Wednesday night. After struggling to make baskets earlier this season, Hobbs said his team is beginning to find its rhythm on offense.

“I think number one, I think these guys have adjusted to their roles,” Hobbs said, alluding to the loss of returning high-scorer sophomore Lasan Kromah for the season to a foot injury. “The start of the year was very difficult for these guys, they were going through an adjustment period.”

As further proof that the Colonials have begun to find some offense, GW scored more than 80 points for the second consecutive game, something it hadn’t done all season prior to the Oregon State victory. The team got career-best performances from two players, including Taylor, who had a game-high 23, and senior center Joseph Katuka, who had 17. Sophomore forward Dwayne Smith finished with 20, just one point shy of his own career high.

Even Taylor, the team’s leading scorer this season and one of the few Colonials who has scored with some consistency for the entire season, said he’s begun to find a better comfort level with the GW offense.

“I think just being more confident and being in the gym a lot extra [has made a difference],” Taylor said. “The whole coaching staff has been telling me to stop worrying about the last play and keep moving on and just play in the present.”

Even with the career-best or near-best performances from Taylor, Katuka and Smith, GW struggled to bury the Pirates, fighting East Carolina through five ties and six lead changes before Bynes’ jumper finally put the game on ice for the Colonials. GW converted on just 17 of 32 free throw opportunities and struggled to defend against an East Carolina squad that shot over 50 percent from the field.

“I’m concerned about our defense in terms of the percentages that teams are shooting,” Hobbs said. “That’s two games in a row where our defense has not been able to hold teams to 40 percent. We gave up 80 points tonight in our building; we’ve got to get it back to 60. Traditionally, that’s what we’ve done.”

GW won’t play again until after Christmas, giving the team a chance to enjoy the holiday before traveling south to take on Alabama-Birmingham Dec. 27. Tip-off in that game is set for 8:00 p.m.

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