(Photo courtesy of Mitchell Layton)
FOGGY BOTTOM – The narrative has officially shifted in Foggy Bottom.
Powered by what ended up being a game winning layup with 20 seconds left of overtime from senior guard James Bishop, George Washington took down Saint Joseph’s 92-91. GW teams of years past would have just been happy to play an exciting game in front of an engaged student section. The win would have been a bonus.
Not this team. Not under the guidance of Head Coach Chris Caputo.
Now, the games mean something. After beating Saint Joseph’s, GW has a 5-2 A-10 record, good enough for 3rd place.
“People say ‘big game,’ and I’m like ‘which one’s not big,’ when you’re playing for something, which game’s not big,” said Caputo. “I think there’s some games in the non-conference, were they big? They’re huge now, because we could have used them. There’s no big games.”
The fact that there are even whispers about GW potentially being in the conversation for the NCAA Tournament, like Caputo alluded to with his comments about losing some games in the non-conference portion of the schedule, show that the Buff and Blue have turned a corner.
There was a lot of talk before Wednesday about the matchup against Saint Joseph’s being a “trap game”. Because they won the road leg of the Revolutionary Rivalry against George Mason and comfortably dispatched Dayton at home in back to back games, many expected GW to come out flat against the Hawks, who were winners of three straight themselves and have one of the country’s most electric three point shooting offenses.
“It’s just being locked in, we knew what was at stake,” said Bishop. “We knew this was almost a bigger game than the Dayton game and how we had to bounce back.”
GW began the game scorching, racing off to a game high 16 point lead about 10 minutes in.
The hot start, and GW’s offensive output for the rest of the night, was anchored by grad guard Brendan Adams. Adams had a career night, posting highs in points and three pointers, at 32 and 7 respectively. He rounded out the stat sheet with four rebounds and three assists.
— GW Men's Basketball (@GW_MBB) January 26, 2023
“I hit a few shots early, from there guys just kept finding me in open spots, made it easy,” said Adams. “Playing with guys who can also score… it just opens the floor up and creates open opportunities.”
After going into halftime with a slightly smaller 41-35 lead, Saint Joseph’s really began to claw back. Behind their signature three point shooting, the Hawks were able to briefly take the lead, before going into a thrilling back and forth with GW to end regulation.
With 19 seconds left in the second half and GW up 79-77, Bishop found himself doubled in the corner, and turned the ball over out of bounds, giving Saint Joseph’s the opportunity to run a play to either win or go to overtime. Sophomore guard Lynn Greer III, who ended the night with 31 points of his own, grabbed his missed shot, leaped up, and tipped it in, tying the game.
— SJU Hawks MBB (@SJUHawks_MBB) January 26, 2023
Adams missed a Hail Mary heave with four seconds left on the clock, sending the game to overtime.
Saint Joseph’s went into overtime without their leading scorer on the year, sophomore guard Erik Reynolds II, who fouled out with 3:21 left in regulation. He ended the night with 17 points, four rebounds, and four assists.
After a minute and a half of the extra frame, their second leading scorer, and reigning A-10 co player of the week, senior guard Cameron Brown, also fouled out, leaving Greer to have to provide the majority of the offense on his own.
Down 90-91 with 20 seconds left, Bishop blew his defender, hop stepped, switched hands mid air, and rose up to give GW what would be the game winning basket.
— GW Men's Basketball (@GW_MBB) January 26, 2023
Bishop ended the night with 22 points and six assists, letting his backcourt mate carry the offensive load for most of the night before taking the game over down the stretch.
On the next possession, Greer missed a jumper, and in poetic fashion sophomore forward Kacper Klaczek went up for the rebound, and was called for offensive interference, the same infraction that wasn’t called in GW’s loss to Washington State that ended up costing them the game.
If this is called, GW gets the ball back up 63-61 with 26.2 seconds on the clock. pic.twitter.com/XGcfdVo0eB
— David Korn (@david_korn4) December 23, 2022
Postgame, Caputo made sure to mention how happy he was that the officials erred on the side of caution and made the call on the floor, allowing them to automatically be able to go to the monitor and review it, which was not the case earlier in the season.
There was one final scare, as freshman wing Max Edwards, like Bishop at the end of regulation, turned the ball over after getting doubled in the corner.
The Hawks weren’t able to get a clean shot off, and GW was able to squeak out a victory.
“The good teams find a way to look back and say ‘you’d rather be lucky than good,’” said Caputo, reflecting on his team’s ability to win even though they weren’t playing their absolute best.
Part of GW’s luck had to do with senior big men Hunter Dean and Ricky Lindo, who both played the final 3:05 of regulation and the entirety of overtime with four fouls. Their ability to toe the line between aggressively defending the paint while still being extra careful not to pick up a fifth proved vital for GW down the stretch.
In a night that ended with a lot of positives, one question mark is the injury status of Amir Harris, who rolled his ankle near the end of regulation, and was unavailable in overtime. Caputo was unable to provide any more of an update on what his timetable is. After season ending injuries to grad guard E.J. Clark, sophomore wing Daniel Nixon, and sophomore forward Keegan Harvey being out indefinitely, if Harris has to miss any time, GW will only be able to field just seven scholarship players.
Before his injury, Harris was having his best game of the season. He finished with six points, including a corner three, three rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block. Harris has had a very underrated presence so far this season, often looking like GW’s best perimeter defender.
GW will look to extend their winning streak to four on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 2:00 p.m. in the Bronx against Fordham. That game can be watched on ESPN+ or listened to on WRGW.