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GW Captures First-Ever NIT Championship

#4 George Washington Colonials 76 #1 Valparaiso 60

Only two teams in major postseason tournaments will end their season with a win. George Washington is one of those teams. There may be no better way to send out this amazing group of four seniors-Joe McDonald, Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Alex Mitola-than to be cutting down the nets in Madison Square Garden. The Colonials finish this season with a 28-10 record, and the most wins in the 102-year history of GW basketball.

Kevin Larsen led GW with 18 points, while NIT Most Outstanding Player Tyler Cavanaugh scored 12 points, and finished the season having scored in double figures in all 38 games. After a back-and-forth first half, the Colonials took a one-point lead into the break. But GW came out firing to begin the second half and never looked back, leading by as many as 19 points.

However the story of this game was great play by the entire team: George Washington just found another gear throughout the entire tournament, especially in the two games in New York. The Colonials played their best basketball of the season at the best possible time, making two of the top five defenses in the nation (San Diego State and Valparaiso) look silly at points. Shots were falling for the Colonials like I’ve never seen in my 17 seasons of following GW basketball, and the team’s overall confidence was as high as could be.

Winning the NIT is a huge leap forward for this program, as the national exposure can only help with recruiting. Not to mention the great postseason experience for the returning members of the team heading into next year. True, the NIT is a consolation tournament. But the history and prestige of the tournament and the opportunity to win two games in Madison Square Garden is a great honor. And how cool is it to have the Empire State Building lit up buff and blue!

To the seniors, I want to say thank you for four amazing years in Foggy Bottom (one for transfer Alex Mitola). Three postseason appearances in four years (1 NCAA and 2 NIT), the most wins in a three-years stretch in program history, the first ever NIT win (which now totals 6 one year later) and an NIT Championship. For the rest of the team, this only bodes well for the future. That said, soak this one up, because this was one special year. Lonergan talked about leaving a legacy behind for the seniors, and they certainly have done that. The Charles E. Smith Center is going to have a really nice banner hanging next year.

Featured Image: Graphic by Marybeth Herrick (GW Athletic Branding & Graphic Design)


Daniel Frank is a member of the George Mason Class of 2022. He graduated high school from the Academy For Individual Excellence in Louisville, KY. He ...