The George Washington men’s basketball team fell behind early by a considerable margin on Saturday, and although the Colonials kept the homecoming crowd engaged by climbing within two possessions of Saint Joseph’s late in the second half, the spirited rally fell short, 73-66, before 3,774 at Smith Center.
Down 17 at halftime, the Colonials closed to 64-60 on Nemanja Mikic’s jumper with 2 minutes 13 seconds to play.
But Hawks guard Carl Jones ended any further notion of a comeback by swishing a three-pointer 23 seconds later. Mikic missed a jumper on the other end to end the rally and George Washington lost for the sixth time in seven games.
George Washington (9-17, 4-8 Atlantic 10) lost for the fourth consecutive time to Saint Joseph’s at Smith Center and has not beaten the Hawks at that venue since 2007.
“We just weren’t able to give effort for 40 minutes,” GW Coach Mike Lonergan said. “Just a huge hole against a pretty good team.”
Senior guard Tony Taylor scored 14 points to lead four George Washington players in double figures. Junior guard Lasan Kromah had 13 points and junior forward David Pellom, a reserve, chipped in with 12 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Pellom was the only Colonials player to reach double figures in rebounding. That highlights a deficiency that has plagued George Washington this season. The Colonials finished with a 43-30 rebounding deficit Saturday, including 16-9 offensively.
Trailing 39-20 shortly after intermission, the Colonials reeled off 10 consecutive points to trim the deficit below double figures with 16:23 to play. Saint Joseph’s pushed the lead to 46-32 before another George Washington flurry cut the margin to seven with 10:43 to go.
The run included a three-pointer by junior guard Bryan Bynes (10 points), whose next three-point basket drew the Colonials to 55-48 with 7:10 to play. Sophomore forward Daryus Quarles countered with a three-pointer for the Hawks, but George Washington scored the next six points on a burst that concluded with Taylor’s fast-break layup to whittle the lead to 58-54.
Saint Joseph’s (18-10, 8-5) called timeout after that basket with 5:12 to play, and its lead appeared even more precarious when sophomore forward Halil Kanacevic was called for traveling. But following that turnover, the Hawks regrouped to score four in a row for a 62-54 advantage with 3:36 left before George Washington again reduced the margin to four points.
“We started executing a lot more” in the second half, Pellom said. “I thought we got in transition. We started playing better defense. We got a couple stops that led to some easy baskets.”
Saint Joseph’s got a game-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting from Langston Galloway, a regular starter who began the game on the bench because he arrived late to a workout at the team hotel. The sophomore went 2 for 2 from three-point range and added five rebounds and three assists.
Jones finished with 16 points and five rebounds and Quarles had 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting. Kanacevic provided 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds for Saint Joseph’s, which got 18 second-chance points to GW’s seven.
“We kind of tip-toed I thought in the second half, particularly defensively,” Hawks Coach Phil Martelli said. “I mean, we just gave up 46 points in a half so we’re not high-fiving. We know that there’s an improvement to be had, and I’d rather improve off a win than coming off a loss.”