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AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

McDonald powers GW back against Colorado in Diamond Head semis

Junior Joe McDonald drives between two Colorado defenders during GW's 53-50 win. McDonald scored a game high 14 points to lead the Colonials to the finals of the Diamond Head Classic. Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Junior Joe McDonald drives between two Colorado defenders during GW’s 53-50 win. McDonald scored a game-high 14 points to lead the Colonials to the finals of the Diamond Head Classic. Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Updated: Dec. 23, 2014 at 8:47 p.m.

HONOLULU – Joe McDonald clutched the ball as the buzzer sounded, smiling ear to ear.

Fitting that the ball, blocked by Kevin Larsen as Colorado’s Askia Booker made a last-second attempt at a game-tying three, ended up in McDonald’s hands.

A handful of plays before, McDonald strung together what gave GW (8-3) a 53-50 win over Colorado (7-4) in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic on Tuesday.

“We needed one big stop, a run of a couple big stops” McDonald said. “To come out on top was good and a great confidence booster.”

Down by five, he scored and then got the “big stop” on defense with a steal. Larsen grabbed an offensive rebound off a miss by John Kopriva and fed Kopriva again, who didn’t make the same mistake twice.

Down by just one, GW got another steal on defense – the other big stop. Working the cracks between the Buffaloes’ big, athletic defenders, McDonald cut inside and put the Colonials on top 46-45 with a layup.

Nearly 5,000 miles from the Smith Center, vacationing Colonials fans rose to their feet, chanting McDonald’s name.

He finished with a game-high 14 points and tied for a team-high six rebounds while playing all but two minutes. Kopriva added 11 points and Yuta Watanabe added 10.

But Booker quieted the chanting crowd with a long jumper. Though the game went back and forth, there was another nemesis that the Colonials conquered to win the game: free-throw shooting.

GW made their last five freebies and finished the game shooting 18-25 from the stripe. Both teams struggled to score, with GW shooting 38.6 percent for the game and Colorado shooting 36.5, making the free throws more critical.

Junior Kethan Savage looks to make a pass during GW's 53-50 victory over Colorado. After a big game during GW's first game in the Diamond Head Classic, Savage had a quieter afternoon against the Buffaloes, only scoring 5. Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Staff Photographer
Junior Kethan Savage looks to make a pass during GW’s 53-50 victory over Colorado. After playing a big game in GW’s first matchup in the Diamond Head Classic, Savage had a quieter afternoon against the Buffaloes, only scoring five. Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Staff Photographer

“We needed that,” head coach Mike Lonergan said. “You could look at the stats and say that was an ugly game, but I thought that was two teams battling hard for an important game.”

It had looked early on like GW wouldn’t need the comeback: The Colonials led by nine twice in the first half.

But Colorado hung around. Heading into halftime, GW’s 30-26 lead was essentially thanks to the Colonials’ 42.3 percent shooting to the Buffaloes’ 33.3. Colorado had one more shot but three more misses than GW at the half.

Then the Colonials didn’t score from the field until nearly seven minutes into the second half and were clinging to the game on free-throw shooting and defense alone. Even with the aid of a Hawaii glow, Lonergan was white as a sheet.

It didn’t help the Colonials that Larsen missed all seven of his shots after scoring GW’s first points of the game to finish 1-8 from the field. While the Colonials were airtight around the perimeter with six steals and just one three-pointer allowed on 12 attempts, Colorado successfully fronted GW’s big man in the post with stifling forward Josh Scott. Scott scored 10 points in the game and added seven rebounds.

“He was taking shots he normally makes, but because of the size on the big kid, Scott, it really bothered him, so he was missing them. Scott wasn’t really blocking shots but he was just using his length,” Lonergan said.

Colorado led by as many as six midway through the second half, but that’s when McDonald got to slicing and dicing. It wasn’t the prettiest, GW’s 6-12 assist-to-turnover mark was actually better than Colorado’s 4-14, but it got the job done for the team.

The win showed a level of mental poise that the Colonials had lacked in previous games, including an unraveling at the tail end of the team’s game at Seton Hall.

The prize? A gift-wrapped matchup on Christmas Day with the winner of Hawaii vs. No. 11 Wichita State. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. EST on Thursday.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the Colonials will face No. 11 Wichita State in the tournament finals on Thursday. They will face either Wichita State or Hawaii, depending on the outcome of the other semifinal. We regret this error.

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