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The GW Hatchet

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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Men’s basketball unable to hold on in A-10 opener at Saint Joseph’s

Redshirt junior point guard Jaren Sina went 5-for-8 from deep to lead GW with 15 points in a five-point loss at Saint Joseph's Friday. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer
Redshirt junior point guard Jaren Sina went 5-for-8 from deep to lead GW with 15 points in a five-point loss at Saint Joseph’s Friday. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

PHILADELPHIA — The Colonials opened Atlantic 10 play Friday just as they ended it last spring – with a strong first-half performance squandered by Saint Joseph’s.

In Brooklyn last March, men’s basketball was ousted from the 2016 A-10 Tournament by the Hawks despite owning a 49-35 halftime lead.

On Friday night – this time in front of a Hagan Center crowd of 4,200 watching two markedly different 2016-2017 rosters – GW suffered a similar fate.

The visitors outrebounded Saint Joseph’s 24-8, went 6-of-12 from deep and never conceded a lead in a commanding first frame. But a 35-29 advantage at the break would not hold, as the Hawks caught fire by taking advantage of defensive lapses and shot 51.6 percent from the field in the second half to the Colonials’ 28.6.

The contest was decided in the game’s final minutes with both teams trading three-point buckets down the stretch, but Saint Joseph’s (7-5, 1-0 A-10) was the team able to make three consecutive stops to close it out. Despite the promising start, GW (8-6, 0-1 A-10) left Philadelphia with a 68-63 loss.

“[Saint Joseph’s players] did a good job of attacking some of our weaker links defensively and they capitalized,” interim head coach Maurice Joseph said. “They shot 16-for-31 in the second half and 11-for-27 in the first and that was the difference in the game. We relaxed defensively, took some possessions off and that cost us.”

After falling to Miami last week 72-64, the conference loss marks GW’s second straight and third in its last six games.

Four Colonials reached double-figures in the five-point defeat, led by redshirt junior point guard Jaren Sina who was good for 15 points on a 5-for-8 clip from three-point range.

Freshman center Collin Smith recorded his first double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds, along with graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh who posted his fifth with 10 points and a game-high 13 boards. Junior guard Jordan Roland rounded out the offense with 10 points and a team-high four assists.

Sophomore guard Jordan Roland scored 10 points and posted a team-high four assists in the 68-63 defeat. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer
Sophomore guard Jordan Roland scored 10 points and posted a team-high four assists in the 68-63 defeat. Ethan Stoler | Hatchet Photographer

In his first game back in the starting lineup since Nov. 22, junior guard Yuta Watanabe contributed five points, six rebounds and a team-high two blocks.

GW came out of the gate shooting the ball with poise and precision. Six first-half triples – with Roland, Sina and Smith contributing two apiece- to their opponents’ one helped build up a quick edge. GW would finish the night 12-for-26, tying its second-highest total this season, and a total of 18 assists.

“We made some open shots throughout the game, I thought we moved the ball well,” Sina said. “We have to continue to shoot the ball well but defense wins games and we’ve got to be better defensively.”

The team continued to get shots up thanks to an 18-board rebounding advantage in the first half, guided by Smith’s seven. The Hawks opened the game by going 3-for-11 from the field, stifled by GW’s man defense and size advantage on the glass.

The Colonials cruised for much of the half, eventually reaching a game-high 12-point lead with 4:09 to play. However, the Hawks ended the frame with an 8-2 run to close the gap. It was nearly a 10-2 run, had Saint Joseph’s junior guard and leading scorer Shavar Newkirk (10p) not sustained an injury on a final second fast-break.

Newkirk never returned to the game, but the Hawks were still able to rally without their star.

A lackadaisical second-half GW defense allowed the home team to continue rolling out of the break. Saint Joseph’s went on to outscore GW 32-16 in the paint and 14-0 on fast-break points on the night.

GW went a an anemic 10-for-35 from the field, with Cavanaugh going an uncharacteristic 4-for-20 on the game, and could not get to the line the way it usually can. The Colonials hit all of their foul shots but only got to the charity stripe a season-low seven times to the Hawks’ 19 attempts.

“I thought we played physically down there, I wanted to play through our big guys, that’s our strength,” Joseph said. “I thought we should have had maybe a few more free throws but that’s how it goes especially on the road at times. But we can’t complain about that, we’ve got to figure out a way to be more aggressive driving the ball in the paint  if not we’re not getting fouls on the block.”

Despite being outrebounded 49-29 on the night, the Hawks did not foul down low in the game’s final minutes – recording just nine total personal fouls to GW’s 18 – and had five players score seven or more points to propel them to the win.

“[This] immature team on the road for the first time in conference play, got a taste of what it’s like,” Joseph said. “There’s a lot to clean up and we’ve got to do a better job.”

GW returns home on Jan. 5 to take on Davidson at 7 p.m.

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