It was an excitement filled Smith Center with the Colonial faithful packing the arena as George Washington men's basketball hosted crosstown foe Howard in their home opener. Those in attendance got their money's worth. Behind the inside dominance of senior forward Arnald0 Toro, who finished with a career high performance of 22 points (9-12 FG/4-9 FT) and 18 rebounds, the Colonials pulled away in the second half defeating the Bison 76-62.
Freshman forward Jamison Battle posted 14 points (4-11 3FG)/ 3 rebounds and 2 blocks, senior guard Justin Williams and sophomore forward Mezie Offurum both added 11 points, and freshman point guard Jameer Nelson Jr contributed 8 points, 11 assist and 2 steals.
Howard senior guard Charles Williams led the way for the Bison with 21 points on 7-14 shooting, while junior guard Kyle Foster added 12 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assist.
Here are some takeaways from the game.
Arnaldo Toro/Jameer Nelson Jr Chemistry: has grown fairly quickly into a lethal weapon for George Washington. Toro was a grown man against Howard. The Bison threw multiple bodies at Toro to keep him from scoring inside and off the boards.....it didn't work. The relentless senior forward, muscled his way inside time and time again for rebounds and lay-in's. He's great at being aware of where the ball is going and establishing position to get the rebound. Toro also have great hands when it comes to catching passes in traffic, which isn't always common for big men, he just needed a guard that can find him in various ways to capitalize off his ability to finish and draw fouls inside, due to his traditional big man skill set.
Enter freshman Jameer Nelson Jr (above). The dynamic freshman may be the best play-maker George Washington has had since Joe McDonald ran the show. Although, McDonald didn't have Nelson Jr's explosiveness. This freshman is special and has a great feel for the position which shouldn't be a surprise considering who his father is. Howard's guards couldn't keep Nelson Jr in front of them, and Nelson Jr picked up on it right away. Yet, instead of looking to get his, he recognized Toro had it going inside and consistently looked for him, especially rolling to the basket after picks. Out of the 11 assist dished out by Nelson Jr, Toro was responsible for four and that's not including the times he was fouled once Nelson found him. The angles in which Nelson Jr passed the ball and found Toro in stride for an easy attempt, was fun to watch and brings another dynamic to the Colonial offense moving forward.
Jamison Battle: has a reputation of being a long range shooter and he didn't disappoint in George Washington's win over Howard. Battle scored 14 points on 4-11 shooting (4-8 from three point range in the first half) to help spread the floor and keep the Bison honest on defense. His versatility is also a welcomed addition on defense, being 6'7 225, helps him to be able to defend big guards to power forwards at times throughout the game, allowing Christian to play with a lot of line-ups depending on the opponent. Battle remaining between 35 to 40 percent from 3-point range throughout the season will be huge for GW moving forward.
Justin Williams/Mezie Offurum: second half performances proved to be the difference in the game. While Toro and Battle kept GW out in front for most of the game, the Bison kept it close with a four point deficit, 44-40, after a Charles Williams jumper at the 13:18 mark. That's when Williams and Offurum who had quiet first half's provided the spark for the Colonials. Both came out aggressive in the second half, combining for 18 of George Washington's 39 second half points. The Bison never recovered. Their offensive production was needed for the Colonials to get the cushion they were aiming for to walk off the floor victorious, especially after shooting 37 percent from the field in the first half. Staying aggressive offensively will be the thing to watch moving forward with these two. If they remain aggressive and fairly efficient, George Washington is a completely different team.