The Colonials (8-14, 3-5) had three opportunities to win on the final possession.
Junior guard Bryan Bynes missed a layup; junior forward Dwayne Smith collected the rebound in front of the basket but missed the follow-up; and junior guard Lasan Kromah briefly got his hands on the ball for a tip-in, but that attempt never had a chance.
“I’m proud of our effort,” first-year GW Coach Mike Lonergan said. “I’m upset we lost. We wanted to win all our home games, and this one hurts probably more than any loss this year, but it won’t hurt twice as much when watching the film like some games this year.”
Senior guard Tony Taylor led George Washington with 20 points; he made 4 of 6 from three-point range. Sophomore forward Nemanja Mikic added 19 points with a game-high five three-pointers. The Colonials shot 10 for 21 from three-point range but only 36 percent from the field for the game and 28 percent in the second half.
Mikic’s three-pointer for a 56-54 lead came with 4:28 to play and would be the final field goal for George Washington, which had several clean looks thereafter but simply misfired.
Mikic, for instance, didn’t draw iron on a jumper with 2:29 to play, Taylor was off the mark on a three-pointer from NBA range and Kromah’s curl-around shot missed too.
The Colonials expanded the lead to 58-54 on a pair of foul shots by Taylor before senior center Kenny Frease made 1 of 2 free throws and Holloway’s layup drew Xavier to 58-57.
“We got good shots for our best players, and we just could not make an open jump shot,” Lonergan said.
George Washington was sinking plenty early in the game. A three-pointer by Mikic and field goal by Kromah produced a 44-37 lead with 13:14 to go. But Xavier (15-7, 6-3) scored 11 of the next 14 points and led, 48-47, with 9:03 to play. It was the first lead for the Musketeers since 25-24 at 5:46 in the first half of a game in which the lead changed hands eight times in the final nine minutes.
Holloway led Xavier with game-highs of 21 points and seven assists and added six rebounds. Frease scored 10 points and had six rebounds for the Musketeers, who had only two players reach double-figure scoring. Xavier’s bench, though, outscored George Washington, 13-0.