Even with Maurice Creek making just three of his 12 shot attempts, George Washington was able to put together more than enough offense in their 85-77 win over UMass in the final Atlantic 10 quarterfinal of the day. Creek finished the game with 12 points, one of six Colonials to reach double figures with Isaiah Armwood and Patricio Garino scoring 15 apiece to lead the way.
As a team George Washington shot 50.8% from the field, and after UMass mounted a second half rally to pull to within eight with 6:46 remaining Mike Lonergan’s team had the answer. George Washington responded with a 12-2 run to expand their lead to 18 points, providing the Colonials with enough of a cushion to ensure their place in Saturday’s semifinals.
Maxie Esho led UMass with 22 points and seven rebounds and Chaz Williams added 19 for the Minutemen, who will now wait to learn where they’ll begin play in the NCAA tournament. George Washington will join them in the 68-team field but they’ve got a semifinal against VCU to worry about first. The teams split the regular season series, with the home team winning both meetings.
Having dropped three of the last four games, George Washington was in a position where they needed a win over George Mason to get back on track. Without a “bad” loss on its resume Mike Lonergan’s team is well-positioned to earn the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 2007, and the Colonials took another step forward with a 66-58 win over George Mason.
For teams looking to ensure their spot in the 68-team field it’s just as important to avoid damaging losses as it is to pick up quality wins. George Washington managed to do this despite committing 16 turnovers, with their superior three-point shooting being one of the deciding factors. The Colonials outscored the Patriots 24-9 from beyond the arc, with Maurice Creek making four of their eight three-pointers on the afternoon.
Creek scored a game-high 22 points to go along with five rebounds, leading four George Washington starters in double figures, and Isaiah Armwood added 11 to go along with 14 rebounds, three assists and three steals. George Washington’s had to deal with injuries for much of the season, and guard Kethan Savage is still out with with a broken bone in his in his left foot.
The Colonials have persevered however, a the reward in the form of an NCAA tournament berth is well within their reach.
There is little to no margin for error in the middle of the Atlantic 10 this season. Though Saint Louis still has to face VCU and Massachusetts on the road, the Billikens currently stand comfortably atop the conference, while five other teams have conference records ranging from 8-3 to 7-4. Tonight’s George Washington-Richmond contest was pivotal for both teams, and not just to break up that standings morass. Both teams have been beset by injuries, illnesses, or defections, and as the two continue to churn for a potential NCAA tournament bid, a win tonight was crucial.
A see-saw game swung to the Colonials’ favor, and Mike Lonergan’s squad was able to handcuff the Spiders for the final three minutes, allowing just two points during that time span. After winning nineteen games, on the verge of cracking twenty wins for the first time since the 2007 season, GW has stumbled as of late, dropping consecutive contests to VCU and UMass. However, the team has been without their lead guard, Kethan Savage, whose offensive pugnaciousness has been sorely lacking since he last took the court in mid-January. One would think the Colonials would need a win against Saint Louis (on Saturday) to safely assume the potential of a tournament appearance, and it has to be encouraging to Lonergan to fifth-year guard Maurice Creek seems to have found his long-range touch. Creek, who has managed to stay healthy after roughly three seasons of rehab, has converted 50 percent of his threes the last two games.
The Spiders still have opportunity to enter the A10 tournament with a strong resume, and a guard who could offensively boost the squad is freshman ShawnDre’ Jones. Before the season-ending injury to Cedrick Lindsay, Jones was using nearly a quarter of UR’s minutes, but has been a consistent scoring presence off Chris Mooney’s bench. In the last four games, Jones has played twenty or more minutes, and is making 58 percent of his threes (Jones dropped 25 points in the GW loss). If he can continue to create halfcourt spacing with his shooting, defenses won’t be able to sag and take away Kendall Anthony’s dribble-drives and penetration.