George Washington 93, Rutgers 87: Colonials win physical battles in victory over Scarlet Knights


George Washington’s John Kopriva, right, vies for a rebound against Rutgers. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
December 4, 2013

In the midst of its best start in eight seasons and charging off its first win over a ranked team since 2005, George Washington continued to establish its national credibility with a 93-87 win over Rutgers on Wednesday night.

The Colonials (7-1) dominated in the paint without enjoying a clear size advantage, outrebounding Rutgers, 35-29, and outscoring the Scarlet Knights, 40-22, in the blue-painted areas near the basket of Smith Center’s new court.

The victory spoiled the D.C. return of Archbishop Carroll graduate Eddie Jordan, who coached the Washington Wizards from 2004 to 2008 and is in his first season at the helm of the Scarlet Knights (4-5).

George Washington won races to loose balls all evening, notably during the late stages of the second half when Rutgers was trying to claw back into the game. The contest grew physical late, with Rutgers committing 28 fouls to George Washington’s 17.

“They just took the physical game to us,” Jordan said. “We certainly didn’t respond. We were there at first, but they just wore us down . . . we didn’t raise the bar physically down the stretch.”

GW sophomore guard Joe McDonald (Landon) was integral to the Colonials’ attack. He handed out nine assists, many to GW’s big men in the paint, and kept calm in the face of the Scarlet Knights’ full-court press. The 6-foot-1 sophomore also had nine rebounds and six assists before limping off the court following a hard foul from Rutgers freshman Junior Etou (O’Connell).

Senior forward Isaiah Armwood (Montrose Christian) led the Colonials’ from the post, dropping 20 points and battling for nine rebounds. Those efforts down low helped open up guards Kethan Savage (Episcopal) and Maurice Creek, who added 18 points each.

“They were in foul trouble,” Armwood said. “. . . so we just made the emphasis getting the ball inside.”

The Colonials have won three straight games against power conference teams, and will have a chance for another Sunday when they play Maryland at Verizon Center. For a team that often hangs its three-cornered hat on defense, that the Colonials were able to win a physical game in which both teams shot better than 50 percent stood out to Coach Mike Lonergan as the non-conference schedule gets more challenging.

“Last year, we couldn’t have overcome a night when the other team shot 51 percent,” said Lonergan, also a graduate of Carroll. “But now we have some scoring . . . I think we have five guys out there that can score and that’s a huge benefit to our team.”

Chelsea Janes covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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