George Washington junior guard Kethan Savage, with the ball in his hands with 6.6 seconds left, trailing 64-63 to Dayton. He waved off a high ball screen and took Kyle Davis off the dribble. Scoochie Smith was late rotating over and while he made a last-ditch effort at a swipe, he turned his back on Joe McDonald.
The 6-foot-1 guard collecting Savage’s block shot and banking in the game-winning bucket as the time expired for a dramatic 65-64 win at home on Friday night.
Moments earlier, Kyle Davis drained a baseline 3-pointer to give Dayton a 64-63 lead with 16 seconds left, erasing a six-point overtime deficit.
Savage had the ball in his hands at the end of regulation. He forced his way into the lane, but his jumper rattled in-and-out. Dayton got the ball back with 1.5 seconds left, though, not enough to get a look at the basket.
This was an important win for Mike Lonergan’s team. In College Basketball Talk‘s latest bracket (posted Friday morning), the Colonials were listed as one of the “Next Five Out” meaning they had work to do to get back on the right side of the bubble. A win over Dayton, rated in the kenpom top 40, is a good start, especially After a 24-point loss at conference-leading VCU followed by another road at Rhode Island, currently second in the A-10 standings.
Friday’s overtime win gives George Washington an edge over Dayton for third-place in the conference standings, which could come in handy for the Atlantic 10 Tournament in March.
In eight days, the Colonials host No. 18 VCU with two games against Davidson also left on the schedule. That gives the Colonials opportunities to add to a resume that includes wins over the Flyers and Wichita State.
George Washington posted a 24-win record this season and made the NCAA tournament, the first time the program has accomplished both feats (a 20-plus win season and a postseason appearance) since 2006-07, and while Mike Lonergan’s resuscitation of George Washington is impressive, what is more interesting is that the team reached both goals with significant injury concerns. Kethan Savage was lost for more than a month with a foot injury — though he returned for GW’s games against VCU and Memphis, he played just one minute in both tilts — and Patricio Garino missed time at the beginning of the season, not to mention the lingering hip injury that plagued guard Joe McDonald.
According to the school, McDonald underwent surgery on his hip today and is expected to be fully recovered for the start of the 2014-15 season. Even with what must have undoubtedly been a painful Atlantic 10 slate, McDonald still managed to average roughly nine points per game and post an assist rate that hovered near 30 percent.
I spoke to Lonergan earlier this year, and he mentioned that the team couldn’t truly practice during conference play: fear of another Colonial stepping on a foot, or tweaking some body part, kept the team from fully practicing. There simply weren’t enough bodies for the coaching staff to lose another player. Even though GW loses both Maurice Creek and Isaiah Armwood next season, a completely healthy team, along with a celebrated recruiting class, could guarantee GW remains near, or atop, the A10 preseason rankings this October.
George Washington just can’t seem to shake the injury bug.
Earlier this year, it was Patricio Garino that missed time. He broke his finger, sat out a couple of games, reinjured the finger during a practice in California for the Wooden Legacy and missed four more games before finally getting healthy and becoming a key cog in the Colonials’ defense.
Then it was Kethan Savage, a sophomore guard having a breakout season, that broke a bone in his foot and could be out until the conference tournament starts.
And if that wasn’t enough, starting point guard Joe McDonald looks like he may be out for some time as well. McDonald took a hard fall in last night’s 69-47 win over La Salle and didn’t come out of the locker for the second half until late in the game. He had on sweats and, according to Ben Standig of CSNWashington.com, was clearly in quite a bit of discomfort.
“He went out in the first half and our trainer told me he was done,” Lonergan said, “I’ve been kind of worried about that for a while. Hopefully we’ll find out more tomorrow.”
“I’m just going to pray that he’s going to be okay and we’re going to find a way if he’s not.”
This hip injury has been an issue for a while with McDonald. He originally injured it against Rutgers on Dec. 4th, but toughed through games while sitting out practices.
McDonald is to GW what T.J. McConnell is to Arizona: a steadying, calm presence at the point that doesn’t get sped up, hits threes and defends. Freshman Miguel Cartagena is McDonald’s back-up, but he only played ten second half minutes on Wednesday as Lonergan used Mo Creek and Garino in his back court.