Saturday, November 12, 2016

GW Men's Basketball Opens Season With Win Over UMES, 75-71

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In the season opener at the Charles E. Smith Center, the George Washington men's basketball team wasted no time in getting in the win column, taking the first game of the 2016-17 campaign, 75-71, from the visiting Hawks of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

Tyler Cavanaugh led the way for the Colonials with game-high totals of 24 points and 10 rebounds, while also connecting at a perfect 9-of-9 clip at the free throw line.

It was at the charity stripe where GW secured the game, as led by Cavanaugh and Yuta Watanabe's 10-of-12 effort from the line, the Colonials canned 29-of-34 foul shots (85.3%). The defending NIT Champions made a living last season by making more free throws than the opposition attempted, and the squad was up to their old tricks by easily outdistancing the Hawks' 12-of-14 line at the line.

Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

Watanabe finished with 18 points and six boards, while taking only four shots from the field (3-of-4). The junior from Japan was one of three Colonials to drain multiple three-pointers, as Cavanaugh connected on three triples in seven attempts, and junior point guard Jaren Sina hit his two threes in the second half to help GW build a 19-point lead at its largest.

Watanabe picked four of his rebounds off the offensive glass and also swatted a pair of shots on the defensive end in a strong two-way effort. The GW defense harassed UMES into a .368 shooting night from the floor (25-of-68).

UMES got 21 points from Bakari Copeland in his 25 minutes of play before fouling out. Ryan Andino (11) and Thomas Rivera (10) also threw in double figures for the Hawks, who made a late run by forcing the Colonials into 13 second-half turnovers.

"We have to make sure we do the things we're supposed to do, we do the things that we practice," said interim head coach Maurice Joseph, who was victorious in his head coaching debut. "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. We have a lot to still work on."

Senior Matt Hart tied with Sina for game-high assist honors with four, as the unselfish Colonials assisted on 16 of 19 made field goals.

Prior to the game, the 2016 NIT Championship banner was unveiled while players and coaches received their championship rings. Patricio Garino, who is playing for the Austin Spurs of the NBA Developmental League, was on hand, as was current Director of Player Development Joe McDonald to unveil the banner.

"That was great, we had a great season last year," Watanabe said of the ceremony. "We want to be even better this year. We have to make sure we play hard until the end and make sure we're always getting better."

GW will look to run its record to 2-0 on Tuesday night against Siena at 7 p.m. at the Smith Center,



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