GW forward Tyler Cavanaugh posted a double double with 24 points and 10 rebounds in the win
It was a festive night at the Smith Center as the Colonial's raised the 2016 NIT Championship banner in front of GW faithful. Problem was, University of Maryland- Eastern Shore wasn't in a festive mood. The Hawks led by senior forward Bakari Copeland 21 points gave GW all they could handle for the majority of the game, however the combination of Tyler Cavanaugh (24 points and 10 rebounds) and Yuta Watanabe (18 points and 6 rebounds), was too much for the Hawks to overcome as GW defeated UMES 75-71.
GW took a 14-10 lead at the 13:30 mark behind the hot shooting of junior forward Yuta Watanabe. Watanabe accounted for 10 of the Colonials first 14 points by himself to start the game. UMES countered with a 2-3 zone, that forced GW into seven first half turnovers and 39 percent shooting for the half. The Colonials defense was even more ferocious, as they held UMES to 25 percent shooting from the field and out rebounded the Hawks 26-14 to take a 32-22 halftime lead. The start of the second half saw George Washington figure out UMES zone and execute at will. Thanks to the 3-point shooting of Cavanaugh and point guard Jaren Sina (8 points and 4 assist), the Colonials went on a 19-11 run to take a 51-33 lead at the 11:21 mark. UMES sensing the game getting away went to a full court press to slow down GW. The strategy worked. GW committed seven turnovers during the remainder of the second half allowing the Hawks to go on a run. Copeland scored 14 points in the second half to help the Hawks cut the Colonials lead to 8 points as GW led 62-54 with 4:58 remaining. The Colonials regrouped to close the game out by converting 13 of their final 15 free throws, en route to knocking off the visiting Hawks.
UMES senior forward Bakari Copeland was hard to contain finishing with 21 points on 6-14 shooting from the field
GW head coach Maurice Joseph although happy with the win wasn't pleased with the execution for the full 40 minutes. "We have to make sure we do the things we're supposed to do, we do the things that we practice. Luckily we had the poise to finish out the game, we hit a lot of free throws down the stretch. That's a huge thing for us and I'm happy about that. I'm happy about the win but we have a lot to still work on. Give credit to UMES, they were athletic and scrappy, I mean Bakari Copeland hit some shots where I thought I was looking at Carmelo Anthony, with the way he was jabbing and hitting jumpers."
Collin Smith added 7 points and 6 rebounds for the Colonials while UMES junior guard Ryan Andino and senior point guard Thomas Rivera finished with 11 and 10 points respectively.
GW will host Siena Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
GW point guard Jaren Sina helped jump start their big run in the second half after knocking down consecutive 3-pointers
Hawks guard Ryan Andino posted 11 points and 3 rebounds in the loss