BROOKLYN – Following an impressive season under the leadership of first year Head Coach Chris Caputo, George Washington was unable to advance to the quarterfinals in the Atlantic 10 Tournament after being upset by 10 seed Saint Joseph’s 87-76.
Saint Joseph’s guard trio of sophomores Erik Reynolds II and Lynn Greer III and senior Cameron Brown were just too much for GW’s defense. They combined for 66 points, with Reynolds leading the way with a game and career high 34 points. Brown was next in line with 18 points, closely followed by Greer with 14 points.
“We switched the matchup on him, I thought Reynolds was just terrific,” said Captuo. “His shot making, ability to get to the free throw line… difficult guy to defend bottom line. One of the best guards in the league.”
In GW’s previous two matchups, Greer had been more of a problem for the Buff and Blue, averaging 26.5 points, including a career high 31 in GW’s overtime win. Caputo made a point to defend Greer this time, and Reynolds took advantage.
For GW, senior guard James Bishop was the top scorer, pouring in 25 points along with eight assists. He also matched his season high with five rebounds.
Ricky Lindo played one of his best games of the season, recording a double double with a season high 20 points and 10 rebounds.
GW began the game dashing out to a quick 12-2 lead. They kept some distance between Saint Joseph’s, increasing their lead up to 11, going up 23-12 with 10:34 left in the first half. The Hawks fought back, and then right before half, they were able to take the lead on a five point swing after Caputo got called for a technical foul reacting to Ricky Lindo committing a goaltend after a foul. Caputo slammed his whiteboard down in frustration, and the marker that is usually clipped to it came loose and bounced onto the court, resulting in an automatic tech.
Looking back at the game, Caputo thought this was a “game changing” play.
“If we lost by two I would have been really upset.”
After that, instead of going into halftime up 41-37, they went into the break down 42-41.
GW and Saint Joseph’s battled tightly for most of the final frame, trading leads until Reynolds nailed a transition three with 4:47 left, and never gave up the lead. Big 3 point shots by Brown and freshman forward Rasheer Fleming ensured that GW would not be able to cut the deficit and make a final push.
Throughout the game, Saint Joseph’s was especially potent on the offensive glass despite missing their starting center Ejike Obinna. Their makeshift frontcourt of Fleming, redshirt junior Charles Coleman, and sophomore Kacper Klaczek, who is still recovering from an undisclosed illness, helped the Hawks grab 14 offensive rebounds and get 18 second chance points.
“When a team is that good offensively and you make them miss, you have to get the rebound,” said Caputo. “You can’t give them second and third chances there.”
By failing to advance, this ended up being the final collegiate appearances for Adams and Lindo.
Adams transferred to GW last season after spending three years at UConn. After an underwhelming first season in Foggy Bottom, Adams exploded under Caputo, increasing his scoring from 8.2 points to 17.5, forming not only the best backcourt in the A-10, but one of the best in the country alongside Bishop. Adams was rewarded with the Most Improved Player award and a spot on the All-Conference Third Team.
Lindo was GW’s defensive stopper this season. Standout performances for him include shutting down players like South Carolina’s projected NBA lottery pick freshman forward G.G. Jackson and Dayton’s star sophomore forward DaRon Holmes.
Bishop, who has one more year of eligibility, has yet to make a decision on whether or not he will return to GW.
With GW posting their best season since 2016-17, every individual player having a career year, and Captuo providing a breath of fresh air to a program that many considered hopeless, invigorating the GW community and giving them a team to rally behind, this loss is going to be an especially tough pill to swallow.
“It’s been a great year, sad to see it end the way it did, but I got my brothers with me playing the sport I love,” said Bishop. “Proud of everyone that played, everybody that helped, managers, GAs coaches, creating a relationship with them and going out to war with them everyday”
Bishop put it perfectly. While the season did not end the way anyone would have hoped, there were still so many great moments.
The future looks brighter than it has in years in Foggy Bottom.