AMHERST, Mass. – Four players reached double figures, led by freshman Joe McDonald’s 16-point, 10-assist double-double, as George Washington men’s basketball topped Massachusetts, 79-76, in Atlantic 10 action at the Mullins Center on Saturday.
GW (8-9, 2-2 A-10), the only team in the nation to start four freshmen this season, built a 16-point lead early in the second half and withstood a late rally by Massachusetts (12-5, 2-2 A-10), which retired former All-American Marcus Camby’s No. 21 jersey at halftime.
Seniors Dwayne Smith (15 points, five rebounds) and Lasan Kromah (14 points, six rebounds) combined for 29 points and 11 rebounds off the bench to propel the Colonials to their second-best scoring output of the season. Freshman Patricio Garino also reached double-digits with 12 points and added a game-high four steals. Senior Isaiah Armwood chipped in eight points, seven boards, five assists and two blocks.
The Colonials snapped a four-game road slide with the victory and also handed the Minutemen just their second home loss this season and third in their last 24 games at the Mullins Center. The win also moved GW second-year head coachMike Lonergan within five of 400 career victories (395-186).
Trailing UMass 18-12 at the under-12 media timeout, GW had seven different players score during a 17-4 run over the next six minutes and never trailed again.
McDonald, who provided GW’s first points-assists double-double since Tony Taylor’s 17 and 11 in a Feb. 2011 victory at La Salle, was the catalyst. He helped frustrate UMass’ scoring and assists leader Chaz Williams in the first half as the Colonials built a necessary cushion. While McDonald went to the line nine times and helped limit Williams to four points in the first half, the trio of Kromah, Garino and Smith totaled 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting to put GW ahead 40-33 at intermission.
The Colonials then opened the second half with eight unanswered points – sparked by a jumper and no-look assist from McDonald and two baskets from freshman Kevin Larsen – to surge to a 48-33 lead with 17:57 to play. Back-to-back layups from Garino and Smith gave GW its largest lead at 52-36 three minutes later.
However, the Minutemen steadily crept back into the game behind their trio of Williams, Raphiael Putney and Cady Lalanne, who combined for 35 second-half points. UMass managed to pull within a possession of GW’s lead with less than 33 seconds to play, but the Colonials hit five critical free throws down the stretch. Twice the Minutemen closed within a point, but McDonald hit a pair of foul shots with 13.1 seconds left, Armwood hit two at the stripe with two seconds showing, and the Colonials stole the inbound pass to clinch the road victory.
Williams finished with 18 points and six assists, Lalanne scored 15 points, Putney chipped in 14 and Freddie Riley had 12 for the Minutemen.
GW returns to the road next week for a Wednesday A-10 matchup at Rhode Island. The 7 p.m. contest will be televised in New England on the Ocean State Network, and can be heard live on FederalNewsRadio.com, RaiseHigh.tv and 1500/820 AM.