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The GW Hatchet


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The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Colonials coast to win over Charlotte

With 2 minutes left in Wednesday’s game against Charlotte, head coach Karl Hobbs motioned to his bench. As freshman forward Nemanja Mikic waved a towel over his head from the bench, GW’s walk-on sophomore guard Roy Ghantous took the court.

The Smith Center erupted as Ghantous checked into the game, an exclamation point on the Colonials’ 17-point, 74-57 win over the 49ers. It was a drastically different scene than Saturday night’s nail-biting finish on the road against La Salle, where GW (15-12, 8-5 Atlantic 10) saw its 18-point lead nearly disappear in the final minutes. The Colonials escaped Philadelphia with a win, but the way in which GW had won left Hobbs uneasy.

“I can’t remember the last time we won a game where I was literally still sick after the game,” Hobbs said. “We’re still learning how to win and we’re learning how to play with leads.”

Wednesday night, the Colonials handled their lead well. The victory was the 49ers’ fifth-straight loss and GW’s fourth win in its last five games. It was also the second win of the season over Charlotte for the Colonials, who defeated the 49ers Feb. 5 on the road at Charlotte.

“I just think it starts in practice,” sophomore guard Bryan Bynes said after the win. “We have a lot of confidence in practice. We practice hard, so we come out and play hard.”

After allowing Charlotte to take an early four-point lead, GW seized control over the course of the final 16 minutes of the first half on the strength of 12 points from sophomore guard Bryan Bynes.

The Colonials continued their dominance after halftime, opening the second half with a 17-4 run that put GW’s lead as high as 22 at the 14:48 mark in the second half. The Colonials shot 51.9 percent from the field and shot better than 50 percent in both halves for just the fifth time this season. GW had five players score in double-figures, which took some of the scoring load off of junior guard Tony Taylor, the Colonials’ leading scorer this season.

“We have a bunch of guys on this team who can easily get 20 points on any given night. We’ve been distributing the ball really well,” Taylor said. “And that’s allowing everyone to, like coach says, ride the bike.”

Bynes led all scorers with a career-high 16 points to go with his three steals. Taylor was close behind him, pouring in 15 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out five assists against the 49ers. Freshman forward Nemanja Mikic, who was celebrating his birthday Wednesday, added 11 points of his own, while senior center Joseph Katuka and junior guard Aaron Ware scored 10 points each.

“We’re getting it just through the normal course of running our offense,” Hobbs said. “Guys are just starting to really play well… 6:30 [a.m.] individual shooting has helped also. I think getting the guys up at 6:30 has worked pretty good, too, over the last few weeks.”

GW also developed a strong defensive presence Wednesday, limiting Charlotte to a 43.6 field goal percentage Wednesday night. The Colonials were especially stingy in the second half, the result of a halftime meeting that focused primarily on defense.

“The only thing we talked about at halftime was defense,” Hobbs said. “We’ve got to defend, we have to defend. We’re not going to be concerned about points. In order for us to get where we ultimately want to go, it’s really going to come down to how well we defend.”

That emphasis on defense from Hobbs manifested itself in multiple ways for GW, which grabbed 12 steals away from the 49ers. The Colonials also forced the 49ers, who shot 66.7 percent from behind the three point line in the first half, to shoot just 12.5 percent from beyond the arc after halftime.

“Our focus right now is to play defense,” Hobbs said. “Our focus right now is to get our defense more consistent, our focus right now to get to executing.”

The Colonials will try to carry their momentum from Wednesday’s win into Saturday afternoon’s contest against No. 25/24 Temple (AP, ESPN/USA Today). Tip-off for that game is set for 2 p.m.

“For us, it’s really to continue to get better, to continue to get the guys to shoot better,” Hobbs said. “Maybe not get the guys up at 6:30 now, maybe let them sleep in a little longer so they’re more rested.”

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