Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Johnson shines as men’s basketball dominates Stonehill to kick off season

Garrett Johnson scored 21 points in his collegiate debut.
Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor
Forward Darren Buchanan Jr. slams it home against Stonehill on Monday.

Men’s basketball opened their season Monday night with a decisive 89-44 victory against the Stonehill Skyhawks, the first-ever matchup between the two programs.

Redshirt freshman Garrett Johnson shined in his collegiate debut, finishing with 21 points and nine rebounds as the Revolutionaries moved to 1-0. Redshirt sophomore Maximus Edwards, the reigning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, contributed 19 points and seven rebounds, setting a career high in 3-point baskets with five.

Johnson kicked off his first game with a spark, scoring 10 of the team’s first 17 points. It’s been a long journey for Johnson, who battled a benign tumor that forced him to unenroll from Princeton last season. But the DMV native returned to the region to play for the Revolutionaries this season, starting with a performance that looked like anything but a debut.

“There were times I didn’t think I’d be playing basketball again,” Johnson said postgame. “I went through a lot in two-and-a-half years. To see the first [shot] go in took away a lot of the nerves.”

The Revs led 37-20 at the half, shooting 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc. The Buff & Blue defense held stout, keeping Stonehill to a lowly 17.5 percent from the field in the first half. Stonehill would conclude their night with a .214 clip on 70 shot attempts.

The Revolutionaries led from the get-go, but the nail in the coffin was GW’s 20-2 run that spanned from the 2:57 mark of the first half to the 15:55 mark of the second. This stretch saw Edwards drill three 3-pointers as well as freshman guard Trey Autry setting up a rim-rattling alley-oop to Johnson. Seemingly nonstop scoring sent the crowd of 2,303 into a frenzy and built up the team’s confidence to start the second half.

“I come into Smith after class some days and you know, Garrett and Trey or someone’s always shooting, whether it’s in the morning or at night, so like, again, you have great teammates and great coaching staff and we’re in the gym shooting mostly every day,” Edwards said after the game.

Veteran guard James Bishop IV had a relatively quiet night, offering 5 points and two rebounds.

Defensively, Edwards and Johnson recorded seven boards each. Graduate student center Babatunde “Stretch” Akingbola led the way with four blocks. The work of Akingbola and sophomore Benny Schröder held the Skyhawks to just 16 points in the paint. The duo were the catalysts for the 11 GW fast-break points.

“But man, we have a guy who has a presence. And he can be a help defender moving laterally, and can hold the defense, but also a guy who can vertically help you,” Head Coach Chris Caputo said on Akingbola’s defensive versatility. “He can move, cover ground, and also up in the air.”

Seven different Revolutionaries saw their first college action in the game. The comfortable lead allowed 13 of the 15 rostered Revolutionaries to see the court, 12 of whom scored, highlighted by walk-on junior guard Laziz Talipov’s first NCAA basket before the unruly crowd of more than 2,000.

“I’ve never played in a gym like that,” Johnson said. “Having the students, the band. Yeah, that environment was crazy. It is a lot of fun for us to play, and we need to keep getting that support.”

The Revs look to continue this momentum Saturday, Nov. 11, when they take on William & Mary at the Charles E. Smith Center.

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