(Photo courtesy of @GW_MBB)
FOGGY BOTTOM – Despite the surprise absence of Yuri Collins, George Washington was unable to take down the Saint Louis Billikens, narrowly losing 81-74 to one of the Atlantic 10’s most talented teams.
Buoyed by a dominant 25-0 run to end the first half and begin the second half that led to a 17 point lead, Saint Louis was able to hold off a frantic GW comeback attempt and get the win in the intimidating Charles E. Smith Center.
“Man, I don’t know. I did call two timeouts so it’s not like I didn’t try to stop [the 25-0 run], I did,” said GW head coach Chris Caputo. “I thought their physicality at the rim was apparent. I think for us, we did have a couple of threes that were in and out. We did not play good offense, that’s on me, we didn’t get the ball into the paint.”
Javonte Perkins led the way for Saint Louis, scoring an efficient 27 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
This was Perkins’ season high, and the most points he has scored since suffering a torn ACL before the 2021-22 season. Perkins has struggled to regain the same, pre-injury success he had, but finally looked like himself again.
Not far behind Perkins was Javon Pickett, who scored 24 of his own coming off the bench. With Collins, who is leading the country in assists, out, Pickett stepped up to provide the Billikens with some playmaking as well, collecting a team high four assists.
“I told the team this before the game, I wish I wasn’t so right,” said Caputo. “We prepared for Collins who’s terrific and a great player, but Perkins was [preseason] first team all league. Pickett was 12 points per game in the SEC. Jimerson is their leading scorer. Two other high major transfers in the front court. A very good team.”
GW started out the game playing very well, going toe to toe with Saint Louis’ offensive firepower and ending the first half up 39-36. However, they were not able to overcome their star player, James Bishop, having his worst game of the season. Bishop shot 5-23 from the field and 3-15 from behind the arc.
“We lose when [James Bishop] shoots 5-23,” said Caputo.
Caputo was very candid about his team’s reliance on Bishop to carry the offense. Bishop went into today fifth in the country in points per game. Going forward, regardless of his efficiency, it looks like GW will continue to rely on Bishop’s offensive output. If he’s not at his best, it will be very difficult for GW to score.
Freshman wing Max Edwards stepped up for the Buff and Blue, scoring a career high 24 points, and shouldering the offensive load while Bishop was struggling.
Discussing what was going right for him today, Edwards said, “With [Bishop] and [Adams] finding me on the three point line I was able to hit shots, most of the teams focus on JB and BA.”
GW’s defense was another issue all game, allowing Saint Louis, who was without the engine of their offense, to score 81 points, shoot 52.2% from the field, and 43.8% from three.
“Ultimately, if someone can go into your home court and shoot 52%, you’ve got to make enough shots to win those games,” said Caputo. “It’s not a great feeling.”
After this loss, GW now sits at 8th in the A-10 with a 2-2 conference record.
GW will get the opportunity to bounce back on Monday at 4:00 PM in a nationally televised rendition of the Revolutionary Rivalry at George Mason, which can be seen on CBS Sports Network and listened to on WRGW. Caputo spent the first nine years of his coaching career at George Mason, helping lead them to their famed final four appearance in 2004. Monday will be his first time returning to EagleBank Arena as a member of another team’s coaching staff.