With less than five minutes to play Friday night, George Washington’s Kethan Savage heaved a full-court pass to Kevin Larsen, but the ball appeared on its way out of bounds at the other end. Larsen instead got to the end line in time and tipped the ball behind him into the hands of Patricio Garino, who scored to the delight of the Smith Center faithful.
It was a sequence representative of the Colonials’ 73-55 victory over Georgia before 3,063 in which George Washington overcame stretches of balky shooting, particularly from three-point range, and other uneven moments throughout with hustle plays in its final nonconference game of the regular season.
The Colonials (12-2) won for the seventh time in eight games and are within one victory of matching their win total from last season. George Washington also remained unbeaten at home and set a single-season program record for non-league wins since joining the Atlantic 10 in 1976.
“It’s a nice win for us,” George Washington Coach Mike Lonergan said. “We wanted to make sure we ended on a good note, finish the nonconference season 12-2 and 4-1 against BCS schools.”
Savage (Episcopal) scored a game-high 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting, adding six rebounds to match a team high, three steals and an assist, although the sophomore committed half of the Colonials’ 10 turnovers. Guard Maurice Creek had 15 points, nine of which came in the second half, and Garino rounded out Colonials players in double-figure scoring with 12.
George Washington shot 54 percent in the second half, in which sophomore guard Joe McDonald (Landon) ended the Colonials’ 0-for-11 drought from three-point range with 10 minutes 23 seconds left. That basket pushed GW’s lead to 51-37, and the Bulldogs did not threaten the rest of the way.
“We want to win every home game possible,” Savage said. “It’s definitely big going into conference play.”
Leading by five at halftime, GW scored eight of the first 10 points out of the break, including a ball Garino tipped to himself and scored during a rebound scrum that extended the lead to 36-25. Garino, playing in his third game since Dec. 1 because of a fractured finger, had two tip follows for baskets in the half contributing to the Colonials’ 14 offensive rebounds.
For a second straight game, GW shot 3 for 15 from three-point range to match its lowest percentage this season. But unlike their 72-55 road loss to Kansas State on Dec. 31, the Colonials were able to counter that deficiency by forcing Georgia (6-6) into a season-high 20 turnovers, about eight more than its season average.
GW also limited the Bulldogs to 1 for 10 from three-point range, their worst performance of the season, and got to the foul line 13 more times than its SEC opponent, making 20 for 28. The Colonials outrebounded Georgia 36-30, and their turnover total equaled the team’s third fewest this season.
Reserve forward Cameron Forte led Georgia with 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds. The sophomore made all seven of his field goal attempts. Sophomore guard Charles Mann (11 points) was the only other player to reach double-figures for the Bulldogs.
“Tonight wasn’t our night shooting-wise, but we stepped up on the defensive end,” said Creek, a graduate student transfer from Indiana who hails from Oxon Hill. “That’s what we’ve got to bring every game for times like these. If shots are not falling, you’ve got to fall back on something else.”
●VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH 81, STONY BROOK 63: Treveon Graham’s first two field goals of the night sparked a 17-0 run to start the second half, and the Rams beat the Seawolves in Richmond in their final game before beginning Atlantic 10 play.
Graham led the Rams (12-3) with 20 points, and four other Rams scored in double figures as they broke open a back-and-forth game with the big burst to start the second half. Melvin Johnson also made his first two field goals in the run, capping it with a deep three-pointer from the left wing and a floater.
●BAYLOR 80, SAVANNAH STATE 50: Reserve Taurean Prince scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half, leading the No. 9 Bears to a victory over the Tigers in Waco, Tex.
Chiney Ogwumike had 33 points and 14 boards to become the Pacific-12’s all-time leading rebounder, and No. 4 Stanford beat Oregon, 96-66, in the conference opener for both schools in Stanford, Calif.
— Associated Press
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