Maurice Creek

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Atlantic 10 Tournament: George Washington eliminates UMass (VIDEO)

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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.

Maurice Creek leads George Washington to 21st victory (VIDEO)

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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.

Bench scoring fails to carry Richmond past GW

Maurice Creek, Varun Ram
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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.

Maurice Creek, George Washington proving to be a match made in heaven

Maurice Creek, Varun Ram
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Maurice Creek’s college basketball career was destined to be short-lived.

11 games into his freshman season at Indiana, the 6-foot-4 guard from Oxon Hill, MD, was averaging 17.6 points and shooting 45.3% from three, the star of Tom Crean’s first recruiting class at Indiana that also included Jordy Hulls and Christian Watford.

He was getting noticed by the national media and NCAA scouts alike. Putting up 31 points on Kentucky will do that to you. But that all changed four years ago this month when Creek landed awkwardly on his left leg after getting fouled on a layup attempt in an otherwise-irrelevant blowout win over Bryant. He had fractured his kneecap, the first of a series of three devastating injuries Creek would suffer while in Bloomington.

That college career that was on the fast-track to the NBA had become a four-year battle with his health, as Creek endured three major surgeries that limited him to appearances in just 54 games as a Hoosier.

“I’ve been through a lot,” Creek said. “I don’t even want to look back to what I’ve been through.”

And that is why Creek is one of the best stories of the college basketball season.

Given a fifth-year of eligibility by the NBA and a chance to continue his collegiate career by George Washington as a graduate transfer, Creek, who is finally healthy, has taken full advantage. Entering Sunday’s game with Maryland in the BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center in DC, Creek was averaging 15.3 points and shooting 45.7% from three. A much needed dose of perimeter scoring pop, he’s been one of the major reasons that the Colonials were 7-1 on the season with wins over Creighton, Miami and Rutgers.

On Sunday, Creek hit the biggest shot of the season for GW.

After blowing a 14-point lead over the course of the last seven minutes of the game, the Colonials (miraculously) were able to break Maryland’s press and call a timeout at half court with 8.1 seconds left. The game was tied at 75, and after watching his team turn the ball over eight times in the final 4:11, there was no way that Creek was allowing anyone else to get the final shot.

“I just told coach I wanted the ball in my hands,” Creek told NBCSports.com. “He said, ‘Go get the ball.'”

Creek made his coach look like a genius, hitting a step-back 20-footer with 0.6 seconds left to give the Colonials the win, finishing with 25 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field.

And with that, you saw why Mike Lonergan went out of his way to bring Creek into the program.

George Washington has athletes. They have talented, defensive-minded perimeter players. They have big men that can run the floor, that can rebound, that can block shots. What they were missing last season was a guy that could stretch a defense with his ability to shoot the ball. That’s what Creek does best. He also just so happens to be a kid that was once an all-Big Ten caliber player, a veteran that’s been to the Sweet 16 and that has the, ahem, intestinal fortitude to take and make a big shot in a big moment.

Creek was the missing piece, and his addition has been more than GW could have asked for.

“I came to great university, but they wanted me because they needed me,” Creek said.

But it works both ways.

Creek needed GW just as badly as GW needed him.

He needed a chance to play again, a chance to work his way to the top of a rotation and to see the court. Winning is great, and riding the coattails of Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo to Big Ten titles certainly has its benefits, but when you’ve experienced being a star, sliding into a role as a deep reserve on the bench in a tough pill to swallow. That’s what made the Buff and Blue a perfect fit. They needed a leader, they needed a star, and Creek needed a place to land.

With the first month of the season now over, it’s safe to say that the union has been a dream come true.

GW is now 8-1 on the year, the latest team to look like they’ll be willing and able to give VCU and UMass a run for their money at the Atlantic 10 title.

Whether or not that ends up happening will play out over the course of the next four months, but the bottom-line is that GW will have a puncher’s chance. They have the ability and they’ll have the opportunity, and for an athlete, is there anything else you can ask for?

“Everybody knows I worked hard to get to this spot,” Creek said. “To go through all that and now have this? Everything’s just clicking together.”

It’s about damn time.

George Washington’s Mo Creek staves off Maryland comeback at the buzzer (VIDEO)

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George Washington did everything they could to give away a 66-52 lead in the final seven minutes against Maryland in the nightcap of the BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center on Sunday afternoon.

With Dez Wells stuck on the bench after picking up his fifth foul and the Terps on their heels thanks to a series of calls that head coach Mark Turgeon was not a fan of — he picked up a technical foul in the second half — Maryland threw on a press in a last-ditch effort to try and comeback.

It worked.

GW turned the ball over eight times in the final 4:11, allowing Maryland to tie the game on a pair of Roddy White free throws. In what was a minor miracle, GW was able to beat Maryland’s press and call a timeout with 8.1 seconds left. Head coach Mike Lonergan simply called an isolation for Creek, who dribbled left and hit a step-back, 20-footer for the 75-73 win.

The Colonials look like they will be a contender in the Atlantic 10. They may be the best team in the DC metro area.