Colonials do everything forward Yuta Watanabe soars in for a two hand dunk
In a match-up that has become the ultimate conference test for George Washington over the years, the Colonials (12-15) led by senior forward Yuta Watanabe game high 23 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assist and freshman guard Terry Nolan Jr added 18 points, cruised to a 80-56 win over VCU (15-12), avenging an 87-63 loss to VCU on January 20th. GW played arguably their most efficient game of the season, shooting 52 percent from the field, 54 percent from three point territory, 77 percent from the stripe and only committing 12 turnovers. Defensively, the Colonials swarmed the Rams all night, holding VCU to 37 percent shooting from the field, 26 percent shooting from deep and 46 percent from the charity stripe. Rams senior forward Justin Tillman who came in averaging 19.3 points and 9.3 rebounds struggled all night, finishing with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Forty minutes of assertiveness: from the swiss army knife that is Yuta Watanabe . That's the biggest contribution that Watanabe brought in the win over VCU. Sure posting a 20 point near double double is always nice, yet his energy on both ends for the full 35 minutes he played, is what his teammates fed off of and ultimately helped keep the Colonials foot on the Rams neck. Bringing high energy for a full 40 is what head coach Maurice Joseph has spoken of throughout the season when he talks about Watanabe. Joseph always has said the Colonails are a totally different team when Yuta brings consistent energy instead of up and down energy, and that stance was validated against VCU. On one sequence, on a missed jumper from GW, Watanabe literally battled multiple VCU players for the offensive rebound, tipping the ball to himself four times from the paint to the three point line before gaining control of the rebound and starting a new offensive set, to the applause of Smith Center crowd. The Rams were deflated after that play and it was no doubt that GW would be victorious. As his college career winds down, you're seeing Watanabe start to bring it more and more, if he keeps this energy up, the Colonials will be a tough out in the A-10 Tournament.
Terry Nolan Jr:
Is only a freshman by class now. He's grown a lot over the course of the season and is starting to understand the details that can potentially make him an All Conference player down the line. That was VCU's undoing and is bad news for the A-10 and beyond. Nolan scored 18 points on 50 percent shooting, grabbed 4 rebounds, dished out 3 assist and accumulated a game high 5 steals in the win. His impact defensively was there from day one, now his offense is starting to catch up, and right on time. Nolan Jr scored or assisted on 9 of the Colonials first 13 points against the Rams and GW never looked back. Nolan Jr talent to be a multi-dimensional threat was never in question, his consistency to do it night in and night out has been. If this starts to become the norm, the questions will change to is Nolan Jr one of the best all around guards in the college basketball period? Stay tuned.
Arnaldo Toro & Bo Zeigler:
Dominated inside and were the x-factors in the win, combining for 23 points and 11 rebounds on 9-15 shooting while suffocating Rams leading scorer and rebounder Justin Tillman. The duo also helped the Colonials win the scoring battle in the paint 40-32 and second chance points 10-8. The physical defense from both forwards overwhelmed VCU's front line as a whole, take away Tillmans production and the Rams shot 8 of 21 from the field (38%) and only grabbed 7 rebounds. Ideal impacts on both ends from the athletic forwards moving forward if the Colonials are to make a run come conference tourney time in March.
Next game for George Washington will be held at the Smith Center against the Richmond Spiders Wednesday at 7 p.m