Following its most productive stretch of the season, in which it got within reach of first place in the Atlantic 10, the George Washington men’s basketball team regressed considerably in an 80-71 loss to La Salle on Saturday afternoon at Smith Center.
The Colonials had their season-long three-game winning streak end in large part because of careless ball security and atypical three-point shooting by the Explorers, who made 11 of 25 (44 percent). La Salle entered the game shooting 34 percent from that distance, making an average of 6.8 per game.
George Washington (10-10, 4-3) committed 10 of its 15 turnovers in the first half and fell behind by 15. La Salle’s lead swelled to 20 with 8 minutes 55 seconds left in regulation, but the Colonials nearly made a game of it by using an 18-3 run to pull to 67-62 following Isaiah Armwood’s three-pointer.
The senior forward sank another three-pointer to draw George Washington to 70-65 moments later, and Explorers Coach John Giannini called timeout with 2:34 to play. The Explorers then got a layup from Tyrone Garland and a mid-range jumper by Sam Mills to all but ensure their third win in four games.
“It was kind of like we reverted back to our old ways,” Colonials Coach Mike Lonergan said. “The turnovers really hurt us, a couple guys with five turnovers each, and you can’t do that against a veteran, experienced team like that. They make you pay for the turnovers in transition.”
Armwood (Montrose Christian) led George Washington with 17 points and nine rebounds, both team hights, to go with a game-high three blocks. But he had five turnovers, including four in the first half. Freshman guard Patricio Garino and senior guard Bryan Bynes each had 11 points, and freshman forward Kevin Larsen’s 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting completed the George Washington players who reached double figures.
The Explorers (15-6, 5-3), meantime, had six players score at least 11, with Ramon Galloway, the third-leading scorer in the conference, and D.J. Peterson leading the charge, each with 15 points. Peterson’s career-high point total came on 5-of-6 shooting, all from three-point range.
La Salle scored 24 points off turnovers, made 17 of 19 free throws, shot 43 percent from the field and owned a 17-10 advantage in second-chance points. The Colonials were much better on points in the paint, 38-22, but could not recover from sloppy ballhandling to start the game.
“That hurt us real bad. My four turnovers in the first half, that really sparked their run,” Armwood said. “They got off to a good start. We got off to a bad start, mostly because of the four turnovers that I had.”
The Colonials appeared headed toward their most lopsided loss of the season when La Salle used a 9-2 burst to build a 64-44 lead. But George Washington reeled off seven in a row, including a basket followed by a three-point play from Larsen (Montrose Christian).
Tyreek Duren (11 points, five assists) made 1 of 2 foul shots for the Explorers before George Washington ran off six consecutive points, four coming from the free throw line. Two foul shots by Duren pushed the lead back to 10, but an 8-3 run that included Armwood’s first three-pointers of the season got George Washington within its narrowest margin in the second half.
“We cut it to five, and I didn’t think we realized how much time we had,” Lonergan said. “We were kind of scattering and double-teaming when we weren’t supposed to be, and we gave up a costly layup there to get it back to seven, which hurt us. I just thought the turnovers, we had done a great job with the ball lately, and today we definitely went back to turning the ball over too much.”