(Photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics Department)
In a matchup featuring the Atlantic 10’s top two scorers, Tyler Burton (19.2 PPG) and Richmond were able to take down James Bishop (21.9 PPG) and George Washington 73-63.
Burton led the way for the Spiders, scoring 26 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Bishop went toe to toe with Burton for most of the game, scoring 25 points of his own and collecting five assists.
Bishop was especially dangerous inside the arc, driving to the rim almost at will against the Richmond defense. Bishop’s three point shot was not falling, only going 1-7 from behind the arc, but he was still able to impact the game with his crafty drives to the rim and athletic finishes.
GW started off the game strong, using a 9-0 run in the first few minutes to jump out to an early lead. Bishop did most of his damage in the first frame, scoring 16 of his 25 points there. Even with Bishop not getting much help from his teammates, GW ended the half up 39-37.
In the second half, GW failed to get any sort of momentum. In what GW head coach Chris Caputo described as the game’s “critical play,” with 16:21 left, up just 44-43, and the shot clock winding down, forward Max Edwards pump faked and passed the ball down low to center Hunter Dean, who appeared to be fouled on his shot, but was later ruled to have happened after time expired. After that, Richmond converted a dunk on the other end, and never looked back, keeping the lead the rest of the game.
After going down, it seemed like GW just ran out of gas and did not have the energy to orchestrate the same type of free flowing, pass first, motion offense that was so effective in the first half. While GW was very effective driving to the basket and getting points in the paint, they struggled immensely from behind the arc. The Buff and Blue shot a putrid 5-26 from deep.
The other bright spot for GW outside of Bishop’s shotmaking was the play of Ricky Lindo. Lindo has struggled all year to stay on the court with foul trouble, and initially, this game looked no different. He only played seven minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls. However, in the second half, he was able to stay on the floor and impact the game on both ends, splashing threes, slamming dunks, and blocking shots, all without excessively fouling. Lindo ended the night with 12 points, six rebounds, two steals, and one block.
Part of their offensive struggles were due to the amount of energy that had to be exerted trying to stop Burton. Guard Brendan Adams, who is GW’s second leading scorer, was Burton’s primary defender, and ended with only six points, shooting 3-13 from the field and 0-8 from deep.
“He was guarding [Tyler] Burton for a while, and that can take a lot out of you,” said Caputo. “We are obviously shorthanded, and is there a little wear and tear in a game like this? Maybe.”
GW will remain shorthanded, as it was announced earlier today that guard E.J. Clark, who injured his foot against Pepperdine and had missed the previous two games, recently underwent surgery and will be out for the season. Clark had recently worked his way into the starting lineup, and was critical in allowing both Bishop and Adams to operate as scorers off the ball and as GW’s primary on-ball defender. Now, Bishop and Adams are the only true guards on scholarship on GW’s roster.
“Our guard depth is problematic,” said Caputo. “We’ve got some very good players at the guard position and they’re just going to have to play a lot of minutes.”
Adams and Bishop are already both playing some of the most minutes in the country. Adams is 6th and Bishop 13th in percent of minutes played. Against Richmond, Bishop played 39 minutes and Adams played 37. While they have shown that they can hold up playing such a heavy workload so far, their usage will be something to monitor going forward.
GW returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 7th at 2:00 PM against UMass for their first conference matchup at home in the friendly confines of the Charles “Entertainment” Smith Center. It will be nationally broadcast on USA and can be listened to on WRGW.