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Men’s basketball tops Massachusetts for second straight A-10 win

File Photo by Eric Lee | Staff Photographer
Junior Guard Maceo Jack takes a shot. The Colonials overcame Massachusetts 75—51 on the road Saturday.

Junior guard Maceo Jack beat a Massachusetts defender to the rim to give him his first 20-point showing in almost a month. But he didn’t need the bucket to help men’s basketball win by nearly 20 points.

The Colonials (8-10, 2-3 A-10) defeated the Minutemen (7-11, 1-4 A-10) in their most decisive victory of the season, striking down Massachusetts 75–51. The victory gives the Colonials their first win streak since early December.

“Our team is just growing so much,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “That’s been the most exciting part about it, this level of growth that’s going on now. It’s outside of results, but we all felt the energy from the stuff they were doing, how much they were getting, and so the victory just allows us to know that that hard work really paid off.”

The contest also marks GW’s most effective defensive showing this season. The 51 points Massachusetts managed is the lowest number of points GW has allowed in a single game this season.

The Colonials minimized freshman center Tre Mitchell, who has been one of the Minutemen’s biggest offensive threats in Atlantic 10 play. In Massachusetts’ first four conference games, Mitchell averaged 20.8 points per game, but GW held him to just 13.

“Our defense is really growing – it’s been growing for the last two weeks,” Christian said. “We play some really good teams and defended them really well, and I think we’re just learning how to play against the physicality, how to play to the level. We’re learning to trust each other more when the moments are really big, and those things are all showing up in the defense.”

Jack and redshirt senior guard Armel Potter managed 20- and 22-point performances, respectively, combining for 56 percent of GW’s total points. For Jack, these numbers break a three-game slump. He’s scored five points over that span but returned to double-digit production against the Minutemen.

Massachusetts found a way to stifle freshman forward Jamison Battle, who went into the game averaging 12.6 points per game. The big man was held to seven points and just three attempts from the field, down from his usual 9.3 shots per game.

Freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. sunk a pair of shots from the charity stripe to open and close the first half. He finished the game with 14 points and nabbed seven rebounds.

GW held Massachusetts to a 29.6 field goal percentage and allowed only two triples on 14 attempts. Christian said his team’s prowess in defending the three-point line has been consistent all season, ranking them No. 21 among all NCAA Division I teams.

“We’ve been a great defensive three-point team all year long, and we want to make sure that we’re doing a great job there in terms of just defending the three,” he said.

After taking an early lead, the Minutemen went on a 6-0 run to take a one-point lead. A layup from sophomore guard Amir Harris put GW back on top, but Massachusetts answered with a layup of their own to regain the advantage. But the Colonials went on a 30-13 run sparked by a three-pointer from Battle for the rest of the half.

Jack led all scorers at the half, securing 13 points in the first frame. The Colonials headed into the locker room with a comfortable 16-point lead. GW shot 13-of-28 from the field, hit 5-of-11 attempts from deep and sunk all eight free-throw attempts.

The squad opened the second half on a six-point run, extending the lead to 22 points. A 19-5 Massachusetts run cut the lead down to eight points. The Colonials responded by holding the Minutemen to five scoreless minutes and riding a 10-0 run.

The two teams exchanged layups and jump shots for a minute before GW broke away on another 9-2 run to end the game. Potter notched 16 points in the second frame and 10 of the Colonials’ final 13 points.

He also had a team-leading seven attempts from the charity stripe, sinking six. The squad finished 94.7 percent from the free-throw line, well above its average of 74 percent.

The Colonials’ and Minutemen’s shooting improved in the second half. The Colonials fired at a .571 clip from the field and a .500 clip from beyond the arc. The Minutemen connected on 42.9 percent of attempts from the field and 30 percent of shots from three-point range.

The Colonials are back in action on the road at Fordham Wednesday. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m.

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