GW gets McDonald buzzer-beater in OT to defeat Dayton

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Things aren’t always what they seem. I have to remind myself of that important saying way too often. Just when I think I have something figured out, I’m made well aware of my deficiencies and the fact that I really don’t know squat.

It seemed to me on Friday that George Washington would use a group effort to score and use solid defense to get after a tough Dayton team. It seemed to me that Joe McDonald would be a contributor but wouldn’t be the guy  who was going to make Friday night an evening I’ll never forget. Once again, I’m reminded of the fact that I don’t know all that much.

I don’t know if Joe McDonald woke up Friday morning and felt like a million bucks. I don’t know if he had the greatest shoot around of his life Friday afternoon. However, I do know that when the refs threw the ball up on Friday night, Joe was good to go. McDonald scored 19 points including an incredible put back buzzer-beater at the end of overtime to give his Colonials a 65-64 victory over the Dayton Flyers in what was a hard fought battle between two strong teams.

George Washington jumped out to a 9-4 lead early thanks to some good looks in the paint. Dayton elected to double Larsen early and he passed out of the double teams quickly and effectively, getting the ball to open shooters. GW had excellent ball movement right from the tip but it wouldn’t last long.

With 12:55 left in the half, Dayton forward Dyshawn Pierre picked up his 2nd foul on an incredibly weak charging call. The call also wiped away a made basket for Pierre who was forced to sit on the bench and watch Bobby Wehrli take his spot.

It seemed that the Flyers were getting ready to enter into a “world of pain” to quote the great Walter Sobchak. But as I’m learning, things aren’t always what they seem. Dayton held GW scoreless for 8 minutes and was able to build a 16-9 lead. A lead that was mostly built with Pierre on the bench.

The first half ended with GW getting back on track thanks to a 15-5 run and going to the locker room with the 24-21 advantage.

There wasn’t anything special or outstanding in the first half from Foggy Bottom. Little did anyone know that special and outstanding with side of AMAZING would be on the menu for the second half.

Dayton made a concerted effort to get the ball into the paint to start the second half and it changed the complexion of the game immediately. The Flyers drew fouls on George Washington on 4 out the first 6 possessions of the half.

The game continued to be a close one with the teams making small runs and trading baskets and then Kendall Pollard did this:

 

I’ve been to a lot of basketball games and that dunk was one of the nastiest I’ve ever seen in person. I’m thankful that GW freshman Yuta Watanabe missed connecting with Pollard at the rim. Broken arms aren’t any fun.

Pollard really played well for Dayton, finishing with 14 points and 6 rebounds. He kept Dayton in the game when it wasn’t getting anything from Pierre or Sibert. But that dunk though…

With 11:27 left in the game and the score 37-36 in favor of Dayton, GW forward Patricio Garino picked up his fourth foul and had to take a seat on the bench. Garino had been magnificent up to that point, getting a couple of steals and getting out in transition.

It seemed like GW was in for some trouble but once again, things didn’t workout the way we thought they would.

GW used three point jumpers from Watanabe, McDonald, and Larsen to spark an 11-3 run and took a 48-40 lead with 6:37 left to play.

Kyle Davis must have decided at that point that he was ready for some shine because the sharp-shooting guard rattled off 8 consecutive points for the Flyers, including two corner threes.

Kendall Pollard fouled out with 3:05 left to play and after a couple of GW free throws Dayton trailed 54-50.

My thoughts: “Game over. No way Dayton fights back in this thing. GW has this one in the bag.” Whoops.

Dyshawn Pierre, who had been battling foul trouble all night, stepped up and made plays as he found Wehrli under the basket on an incredible no-look over-the-shoulder pass that Magic Johnson would have been proud of. On the next possession, he threw down a monstrous slam to tie the game at 54 with 2:21 left to play.

The final two minutes saw Pierre battle for shots in the paint and what appeared to be contact by GW not get called by the refs. Larsen threw down to give GW and 56-54 lead but after a steal by Scoochie Smith, Sibert drove the lane and smoothly finished at the rim to tie it at 56. Savage missed a runner with 8 seconds left and everyone in Washington D.C. was treated to some free basketball.

Overtime saw George Washington score the first 6 points and things looked bleak again for the Flyers as they trailed 62-56 following a McDonald baseline jumper.

Jordan Sibert, who for stretches of the game was the best player on the floor, made an big time play as he picked up a Dyshawn Pierre steal and took it to the rim, drawing a foul and making the shot. He hit the free throw and Dayton had life yet again, trailing only by 3 with two minutes to go.

The teams traded possessions without any scoring success as Pierre and Garino continued their impressive defensive play, both coming up with critical blocks for their teams.

Pierre finally got Dayton on the board again with a jumper to cut the Colonials lead to 1 with 36 seconds left.

Savage was fouled by Dayton with 27 seconds left but the reliable guard only made one of his two free throws. GW 63, UD 61.

On its final possession, Dayton got the ball inside to Pierre on the low block. He felt the pressure coming from behind and immediately got the ball out to the perimeter. A couple of nice, quick passes from the Flyers got the ball to Kyle Davis in the corner with 16 seconds left. Davis let it go and everyone in the building knew the ball was going through the hoop. Everyone was right. Davis drilled the three pointer and Dayton had its lead, 64-63.

GW called a timeout with 6 seconds left to set up one final play. Savage got the ball at the top of the key and with only a couple of seconds left, drove the ball to the rim. Pierre rotated perfectly and blocked the shot. For a split second, it looked like Dayton had it. It looked like the Flyers were going to pull out a very difficult road win. But the lesson learned from Friday night was that things aren’t always what they seem.

The ball deflected perfectly for GW and ended up in the hands of McDonald who was Joey on the spot. McDonald instantly got the ball out of his hands and off the glass into the hoop. Your final score, GW 65 UD 64. Check it out for yourselves:

Friday night’s contest was another example of why I love sports so much. The “drama” made a Scorsese film look like an episode Barney. Both teams gave everything they had and it took all of the forty-five minutes to decide the winner. We have a whole bunch of hoops yet to be played in the A10 this year. Hopefully I’ll remember that little saying I needed so many times on Friday.

 

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Brian Keiper is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a M.Ed from University of Richmond. He teaches, coaches, and spends way too much time involved with local basketball in Richmond, Virginia but wouldn't have it any other way.

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