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Men’s basketball puts Richmond on the ropes but succumbs to series sweep

File Photo by Eric Lee
Redshirt senior guard Armel Potter drives to the hoop in a game against Richmond Wednesday. The Colonials fell to the Spiders 73–70.

Men’s basketball trailed by six points with seconds left when junior guard Maceo Jack let a shot fly from three-point range, drew a foul and hit all three free throws to pull the Colonials within one possession of Richmond Wednesday.

But the Colonials (12-16, 6-9 A-10) couldn’t overcome an early second half push from the Spiders (21-7, 11-4 A-10) and dropped the contest 73–70. The Spiders swept the season series with the Colonials, claiming a 22-point victory earlier this month on their home court.

“No one is happy with the result, but their mindset and their fight right there was tremendous, and I expect us to put a great opportunity on the line on Saturday,” head coach Jamion Christian said.

Rapper Swae Lee joined the squad courtside, sporting a GW jersey to cheer on the Colonials. Members of GW College Democrats and Sunrise GW also protested the University’s holdings in fossil fuels during the game, wearing t-shirts that read “Divest Now.”

[gwh_image id=”1112766″ credit=”Eric Lee | Staff Photographer” align=”none” size=”embedded-img”]Rapper Swae Lee cheers from the sidelines. [/gwh_image]

Four Colonials reached double-digits, with redshirt senior guard Armel Potter and Jack leading the charge with 17 points apiece. Potter notched his fourth double-double of the season, matching a season-high with 12 assists. Christian said Potter made the difference in the Colonials’ tight contest with the Spiders.

“Having Armel makes a huge difference in the way he can handle the ball, gets balls to the floor, deliver the passes,” Christian said. “He obviously makes our team a lot better. I love his composure over the last few weeks. He’s just been so locked in and so solid for our team.”

The Spiders started the scoring for the night, striking first with a layup. The Colonials responded with a drive from Potter that ended in two points. Richmond and GW went back and forth, trading buckets for the first 10 minutes of the half.

A three from Jack pushed the Colonials ahead and sparked a GW run. On the next trip down the court, Potter missed an attempt from deep, but freshman guard Jameer Nelson Jr. ripped the offensive board and dished the ball to freshman forward Jamison Battle.

Battle swished the three-point shot to give the squad a four-point advantage. A minute later, Nelson Jr. sunk two free throws to boost the Colonials’ lead to six points. On the day, he led the team from the charity stripe, connecting on 4-of-6.

The Colonials held onto the lead until jumpers from redshirt junior forward Grant Golden and redshirt junior guard Blake Francis pushed the game in Richmond’s favor. A triple from Jack swayed the lead again onto the Colonials’ side.

But a bullet from three-point range in the final 30 seconds of play from redshirt junior guard Nick Sherod sent Richmond to the locker room with a one-point advantage ahead of GW.

Christian said the squad reworked its strategy after its first matchup with the Spiders, emphasizing shot disruption.

“We just wanted to do a great job man-to-man and push those guys over the screens and make them take tough shots,” Christian said. “I thought for the most part they did a great job of that, and again, they’re a good team so it’s hard to beat them with any strategy.”

In the second half, the Spiders leaped on an eight-point run complete with two triples. On the day, Richmond connected on 42.9 percent of its attempts from three-point territory. The Colonials hit 33.3 percent of shots from beyond the arc.

A fast break layup from Jack stunted the run and a layup from Potter brought the team within two possessions. But a five-point spurt from the Spiders bumped the deficit to 10 points. Richmond’s lead grew as large as 12 before the Colonials began chipping it down.

“They ended the half on a bit of a run, started the second on a bit of a run, that’s why we had to use the timeout early there,” Christian said. “But I thought our guys reset themselves with about 12 minutes left in the half. We were toe-to-toe. And that’s what you want to do.”

A five-point run coupled with a nearly three minute scoreless stretch for Richmond gave the Colonials momentum. Despite a back-and-forth tussle down the stretch, GW held Richmond within two possessions.

With 22 seconds on the clock, Jack nailed a triple to bring the Colonials within four. He immediately fouled Francis, who stepped up to the line and knocked down both shots. The Spiders hit 70 percent of shots from the charity stripe throughout the contest.

Eight seconds later, Jack attempted another three. He was fouled on the shot and nailed all three attempts to pull the team within three points. The Colonials immediately fouled Francis, who missed both shots with 12 seconds remaining.

Potter was sent to the charity stripe with four seconds remaining. He missed his first shot and the Colonials took a timeout to strategize. Potter intentionally missed his second shot, collected his own rebound and attempted a three-pointer to tie the game. The shot missed the basket and bounced out of bounds, ending the comeback run for GW.

On the night, the Colonials shot at a .500 clip from the free throw line, its lowest since playing Duquesne in January.

“It bit us tonight, but we have a lot of guys that are capable of making them, and I’m excited for the day when we make all of them,” Christian said. “I think that day is ahead of us. I’ve seen these guys do that in practice and games, so we’re right there.”

The Colonials hit the road to take on VCU Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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