Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Men’s basketball launches into regular season with 22-point win over Radford

Without sophomore Kethan Savage, GW will need multiple players to step up the rest of the season. Hatchet File Photo
Without sophomore Kethan Savage, GW will need multiple players to step up the rest of the season. Hatchet File Photo
Forward Isaiah Armwood, who led the team with 12 rebounds Friday, shoots against Radford in GW's home opener. Delaney Walsh | Photo Editor
Forward Isaiah Armwood, who led the team with 12 rebounds Friday, shoots against Radford in GW’s home opener. Delaney Walsh | Photo Editor

No nail-biters or near-upsets in GW’s season opener.

The men’s basketball team opened their 100th season with a decisive victory over Radford University 76-54 at the Smith Center Friday night.

Coming into the game, head coach Mike Lonergan’s main objective for his team was to stop the production of Radford’s two stars, juniors Javonte Green and R.J. Price. Last year the guard-forward tandem averaged 28.2 points per game for the Highlanders, and were expected to do the same this season.

But the pair’s performance was paltry Friday night. The two scored a combined 10 points, with Green going 2-7 from the field, and Price, just 1-10. Radford, as a whole, shot 33.3 percent from the field.

“I thought our defense was great on their two best players the whole game,” Lonergand said. “That was something we really came into the game to focus on, Green and Price.“

A big part of the Highlanders shooting woes can be credited to the return of sophomore guard Joe McDonald, who made his return after a month spent nursing a hip injury. McDonald’s pressuring of the ball led to the Radford starting backcourt to shoot an abysmal 1-12 from the field.

In 24 minutes of play, McDonald went 2-3 from the field, totaling seven points, six rebounds and four assists.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the conference already, so he gave us a huge lift and some more confidence going into the game knowing he was going to start,” sophomore forward Kevin Larsen said.

But maybe more important than his stat sheet was McDonald’s ability to allow sophomore guard Kethan Savage to return to his natural position on the wing. With that increased comfort, Savage went off for a career night, posting career highs in every statistical category.

Savage finished the game leading all scorers with 18 points on 7-8 shooting, five assists, five steals and six rebounds.

Throughout the game, Savage was the only GW player to have consistent success penetrating the Radford defense, creating space for himself and converting his drives into buckets.

Savage credits his success on the floor Friday to his eagerness to attack the basket instead of settling for outside shots, something he felt more comfortable doing from the wing.

“Playing the point guard was a good experience for me but getting back to my natural position allowed me to do what I do best which is get to the rim come off screens and attack,” Savage said.

While Savage was able to come through for Lonergan on offense, it wasn’t the head coach’s original game plan.

Going in, the plan revolved around getting the ball inside to GW big men Isaiah Armwood and Kevin Larsen, but the Highlanders took that away early on.

The Highlanders, who ranked 26th in the nation in steals, would double-team Armwood in the paint whenever he grabbed possession of the ball, disrupting his rhythm and consequentially that of the entire offense.

“We had trouble getting the ball inside,” Lonergan said. “I didn’t think we forced it. Isaiah was strong. They were reaching in a lot, they had quick guards. I think he could have gotten to the line a little bit more.

Armwood struggled offensively, and despite leading all players with 12 rebounds, failed to convert a single field goal, earning all seven of his points from the charity stripe. Armwood also had two assists, two blocks and two steals on the night.

With Armwood unable to solidly contribute in the frontcourt, Larsen – who took advantage of Radford’s fixation on stopping Armwood – picked up the slack.

“A lot of teams key in on Isaiah because he’s one of the best in the conference so it gives me more room to operate,” Larsen said. “I wasn’t settling tonight, I was getting to the rim. Having ‘Zeke’ there helps a lot so it takes a lot of pressure off of me so I can be aggressive.”

Larsen would finish the game with 16 points and four rebounds.

The win lifted a Colonials team that has had to cope with key setbacks early on in this young season. With McDonald back in the rotation and much of the ball handling pressure lifted, Lonergan now can focus on the Colonials’ half-court game, which appears to be his priority as the season progresses.

The Colonials will continue to work out the early season kinks when they host Maine Tuesday at 7 p.m.

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet