The George Washington men’s basketball team continued its torrid start with a determined effort, particularly on defense and in rebounding during the second half to rally past Boston University, 70-60, Wednesday night in front of 2,630 at Smith Center.
Playing for the first time since a two-point victory over cross-town rival Maryland on Sunday, the Colonials (9-1) won their fourth in a row to extend their best start since 2005-06. That season GW won 26 of its first 27 on the way to a school-best 27-3 record.
The Colonials had four of five starters score in double figures. Sophomore forward Kethan Savage (Episcopal) led the way with 22 points, eight rebounds four assists, two blocks and a steal. Sophomore guard Joe McDonald (Landon) added 20 points, making 10 of 12 from the foul line, with a team-high nine rebounds and a game-high three steals.
“Everybody was talking about the Maryland hangover and trap game and all this stuff,” GW Coach Mike Lonergan said. “I don’t really buy all that, but I knew Boston U. would be ready to play. It’s a big game for them. I was happy that we turned it on and played with a lot more intensity in the second half.”
Trailing by nine early in the second half, George Washington embarked on an 18-3 run, including 1 of 2 three throws from McDonald to provide the Colonials the lead for good with 9 minutes 11 seconds left in regulation. The flurry began with five straight points from McDonald, and when Nemanaja Mikic swished a three-pointer followed by senior center Isaiah Armwood’s turnaround layup, the Colonials were within 43-42.
Dylan Haines made 1 of 2 foul shots for the Terriers (6-4), but that offered only a brief interlude in GW’s decisive push. The Colonials reeled off the next eight in a row during which Boston’s Maurice Watson Jr. was called for a technical foul for protesting a call.
Graduate student Maurice Creek missed both technical free throws but redeemed himself with a three-pointer from NBA range and a foul-line jumper off a screen for 48-44 lead. Boston Coach Joe Jones called timeout, but the Colonials were more energetic than their America East opponents following the break.
After Boston trimmed the deficit to three, GW countered with another surge that yielded a 59-50 margin with 4:03 to play. Savage’s three-point play was the highlight, and the Colonials were able to maintain separation even with Creek temporarily out of the lineup when he landed hard on the court on the defensive end.
Creek re-entered several minutes later and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. He was part of GW’s trio of starting guards that combined for 25 of the team’s 39 rebounds. The Colonials outrebounded BU by 12 in the second half and went to the foul line 23 more times during that span.
They also limited the Terriers to 29 percent from three-point range following the break after they made 6 of 10 in the opening 20 minutes. D.J. Irving led BU with a game-high 23 points on 9-for-17 shooting, and Watson had 12 points, six assists and four rebounds.
“Like Coach said, the effort really wasn’t there in the first half,” McDonald said. “He got on us a little bit, and in the second half we just came out a lot stronger and more aggressive.”