Washington D.C. – In a tightly contested game VCU (21-8, 13-3) held off a late run by home team and A10 conference rival George Washington (21-8, 10-6) to win 69-65. VCU led most of the game but GW stayed within striking distance for the entire second half. The Colonials actually took the lead 63-62 with 1:30 left to play, but it still was not enough as VCU finished the game off. GW still had a chance to take the lead but Patricio Garino missed a three pointer with 11 seconds left. The Colonials gathered the rebound but once again Garino failed to convert, this time on a runner from the side of the key. VCU’s Justin Tillman iced the game by hitting two free throws after a foul.
The visiting Rams jumped out to an early 10-2 lead fueled by a massive dunk by Mo Alie-Cox over Tyler Cavanaugh. Cox is a 6’7, 250 pound junior power forward, built like a Greek statue. Cox showed great effort on defense and provided much needed energy in a raucous environment on the road. Cox scored on several put backs and close range shots around the bucket. He finished with eleven points, seven rebounds and three huge blocks before fouling out with 27 seconds left.
The star of the show was sophomore point guard Jonathan Williams (6’1, 185). Williams came into the game averaging just 3 points and 1.8 assists. He exploded for a career high 17 points and five assists. Williams used his quickness and crafty ability around the rim to finish on many occasions. No matter who GW put on him he had an answer and finished plays down the stretch. Williams was all over the court and even dove over the scorers table late in the second half and injured his chest before returning shortly thereafter. Williams proved that VCU is a very dangerous team if it gets more contributions from its role players. Leading scorer senior shooting guard Melvin Johnson (6’4, 190) was relatively quiet throughout the game. Averaging 18 ppg on the season, he finished with just ten points and three rebounds.
GW junior power forward and Wake Forest transfer Tyler Cavanaugh had another steady game. The 6’9, 238 pound stretch four provided versatility and scoring inside and out. Cavanaugh can hit the three ball as well as post up against smaller defenders. He has a knack for finishing with his left hand around the basket, even though he is predominantly right handed. Cavanaugh kept the Colonials in the game throughout and finished with 19 points and six rebounds. Another bright spot for GW was senior center Kevin Larsen (6’10, 265) from Denmark by way of Montrose Christian. Larsen has a massive frame and is extremely difficult to match up against in the post. When he gets deep position he is all but guaranteed to score down low. When he is forced a little outside of the post is when he is more susceptible to taking an ill-advised shot and not converting. Once he develops more go to post moves he will be a very valuable pro. Larsen finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
Two players for GW who did not quite impact the game as much as usual were senior point guard Joe McDonald (6’1, 190) and senior small forward Patricio Garino (6’6, 210). McDonald struggled to find any rhythm other than setting up the offense. He has a high basketball IQ, but today did not force his way to impact the game. He finished with six points and four assists. Garino showed several flashes throughout the game and even had a chance to take the lead with the late three. However, he just seemed a little off kilter and struggled to really get it going. When he drove the lane he used his length extremely well and finish several plays with dunks and lay ins around the rim. Garino finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
This game had a huge impact for both teams. Not only was it important in conference play, but it was very important in where they may stand when the NCAA brackets are released in a couple of weeks. VCU stayed atop of the A10 and GW stayed in fifth place. As far as the NCAA tournament goes, VCU is looking solid to get an at large bid even if they do not win the A10 tournament. GW on the other hand needs to win their final two games and maybe make a run to the A10 tournament championship to garner a bid to the NCAA tournament.
This article was written by Greg Walter, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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