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The GW Hatchet


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The GW Hatchet

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Men’s basketball loses 10th straight, falls to last in A-10

Kaiden Yu | Staff Photographer
Head Coach Chris Caputo animatedly instructs the squad during a timeout in a game against Richmond.

On Jan. 15, optimism surrounding men’s basketball was at a high.

The team had beaten rival George Mason 75-62, leading by double digits for most of the game to bring the team’s record to 14-3, 3-1 in the Atlantic 10, good for the team’s best start since the NIT-winning 2015-16 season.

The Revolutionaries have not won a game since.

The team (14-13, 3-11 A-10) lost this Saturday against Saint Louis (10-17, 3-11 A-10), marking their 10th-consecutive loss as they’ve tumbled down from the top five of the conference to last place in the A-10 over the past five weeks.

“I’ve tried it all,” Head Coach Chris Caputo said following a Feb. 10 loss against Loyola Chicago, at that point their sixth-straight loss. “So I don’t know. I mean, when I say change, it’s like spinning a wheel. And we’ll just spin the wheel and figure out we’ve tried it all.”

Saint Louis, who ranks eighth in the A-10 with 7.9 3-pointers made per game, went a mighty 12 for 19 from beyond the arc in just the first 20 minutes of play, allowing them to build a 55-42 halftime lead. They finished 13 for 26, a 50 percent clip.

GW’s porous defense has been a disaster area for the team this season. The team ranks last in the A-10 in opponents’ points per game during conference play, allowing 85.1 per contest. That’s over 20 points more than 16th-ranked Dayton, whose conference-leading defense averages 63.6 points allowed.

Over the season as a whole, GW ranks 327th out of 351 in the NCAA in scoring defense with an opponents’ per-game average of 78.8. While much of this can be attributed to GW’s fast pace of play, listed as the 28th-highest tempo in the Kenpom ratings, GW’s inability to defend from 3-point territory has allowed even mediocre shooters to hurt them from beyond the arc. 

Senior guard James Bishop IV, who won the A-10 scoring title with 21.6 points per game last season, has been unable to carry the offensive load the way he did last year. His scoring average is down to 18.5 on 39.4 percent shooting from the field, compared to 42.9 percent last year.

Despite a down year, Bishop is still etching his name in the GW record books. His season-high 34 points against the Billikens pushed him over 2,000 points in his GW career, making him one of only three players to reach the mark.

The Revs were able to make the game competitive late in the second half, with a late 10-1 run cutting the deficit to just 2 points. A layup from Bishop brought the score to 89-87 with just 48 seconds remaining.

Sophomore guard Benny Schroder was able to respond to four straight Saint Louis free throws with 4 points of his own, but the Billikens’ success from the line late proved too much to overcome for the Revs. Saint Louis was 9-10 from the line with less than one minute remaining.

The Revs were without two key contributors in the loss against Saint Louis: redshirt freshman forward Darren Buchanan Jr. and redshirt freshman guard Garrett Johnson.

Both players have flourished in their first year at GW, but have been in and out of the lineup recently due to injuries. Buchanan, in particular, has come into his own as the team’s second option behind Bishop, following behind him in points per game with 15.2 on 55.3 percent shooting, tying for first in rebounding average with 6.7 and averaging the second most assists per game with 2.2.

Johnson is third on the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game and shoots an impressive 40.3 percent from 3-point territory.

Their absences have not only created gaps in the starting lineup but have thinned GW’s rotation. Against Saint Louis, Bishop and freshman guard Jacoi Hutchinson both played more than 37 minutes. Off the bench, junior forward Keegan Harvey entered just his fifth game of the season, notching five minutes.

The Revs’ losing streak marks the program’s longest since 2009, when the Karl Hobbs-coached squad dropped 11 straight. 

Caputo, who surprised many with a 10-8 A-10 record in his first year in Foggy Bottom last season, will be tasked with retooling his roster in what looks to be a key offseason. The school extended his contract in November.

The team’s nonconference schedule perhaps provided an inflated account of the team’s success. They played just one true nonconference away game, an 89-67 loss at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are the only one of GW’s nonconference opponents to rank in the top 100 on Kenpom.

The team has four games left on the schedule before heading to Brooklyn for the A-10 tournament.

The Revs will welcome UMass (17-10, 8-7 A-10) for a matchup at the Smith Center on Tuesday at 7 p.m. An 81-67 loss at UMass marked the start of the Revs’ losing streak Jan. 20.

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