PHILADELPHIA - George Washington (11-3; 1-0 A-10) held off a furious rally by Saint Joseph’s (6-6; 0-1 A-10) to defeat the Hawks, 64-60, in the Atlantic 10 Conference opener for both teams at Hagan Arena.
Trailing 53-33 with 6:54 to play, Saint Joseph’s held GW without a field goal for the rest of the game, while outscoring the Colonials, 27-11. George Washington went 11-for-19 from the foul line during that time to hold off the Hawks.
SJU’s DeAndre’ Bembry led all scorers with 22 points and point guard Chris Wilson had 15 points and tied his career-high with nine rebounds.
Kethan Savage led GW with 16 points, while Kevin Larsen had 15 points and nine rebounds and Yuta Wantanabe scored 12.
The Hawks closed to within 57-51 on a layup by Wilson with 1:44 to play. Kevin Larsen hit a pair of free throws for GW with 1:05 left to increase the lead to 59-51. Bembry made 2-of-3 free throws at :56 to cut the Hawks’ deficit to 59-53, but GW built the lead back up to 61-53 with 30 seconds to play.
Saint Joseph’s made one more push and after five straight points from Wilson, trimmed the deficit to 62-58 with 12 seconds remaining. After Larsen made 1-of-2 from the line, Wilson scored one more time to pull the Hawks within, 63-60, with six seconds remaining. But Joe McDonald made one foul shot at :05 and the Colonials grabbed the offensive rebound on the miss of the second to seal the win.
After totaling just 18 points in the first half, the Hawks scored 24 in the final 5:44 of the game. Saint Joseph’s connected on 16-of-29 from the field (55.2 percent) in the second half, but struggled at the foul line, hitting just 8-of-14.
George Washington led from the start, building up a 22-10 lead in the first 12 minutes of play. The Colonials shot 41.9 percent in the half, while Saint Joseph’s managed 26.9 percent, hitting making just 4-of-17 two-point field goal attempts. GW held a 31-18 lead at halftime.
"A lot of credit to GW. They played with tremendous swagger. Not just confidence, but they had real swagger about what they wanted to do,” said SJU coach Phil Martelli. “We're a team that's like a puzzle. The puzzle has to fit together. Isaiah Miles had back-to back-games of career highs and then had zero points today.”
“In the first half, I thought we had no shot conviction and were just taking shots to take shots. But the numbers will tell you. The first-half rebounding was, 27-10, and the loose-ball recovery, 8-0. We didn't believe enough, and that will be on me to make sure that the players believe that they can play with the upper echelon in the league."
"It was a loss where we didn't engage in the fight for 40 minutes. And that's the only way we're going to do this. We're going to have to engage in the fight for 40 minutes,” said Martelli. "We have a lot of work to do. Collectively, we have a lot of work to do. Not they have a lot of work to do or this individual player."
The Hawks go on the road for a pair of games this week, heading to Duquesne on Wednesday and then to VCU on Saturday, January 10.