Climbing out of the Snow: GW 62 RI 58
With an impending blizzard outside, the George Washington Colonials faced the Rhode Island Rams in a pivotal Atlantic 10 matchup. With both teams sitting at 3-2 in the conference, each team needed not only a win to stay in the A10 regular season hunt, but also a win to stay alive in for an NCAA tournament at-large bid.
Early on the Colonials fell behind the Rams by as many as 18 points in the opening half. However, that would be followed up by a five minute scoring drought for the Rams allowing GW to get back within single digits. Chipping their way back to a back and forth game for a majority of the final 10 minutes, Patricio Garino hit a jumper to give the Colonials a 57-55 lead and let the team cruise to a final 62-58 victory.
The leading scorers for Rhode Island were Jarvis Garrett, Jared Terrell, and Kuran Iverson who scored 26 of their 42 points in the opening period. Leading the way for the Colonials was Tyler Cavanaugh with 13 points and 10 rebounds, the only double-double of the contest, as Garino also added 10 points.
Huge Upset Out West: St. Louis 96 Davidson 87
Falling behind fast in the conference race, the Billikins need to recover before facing two preseason favorites over their next three games. Davidson meanwhile has been slipping in the standings with their postseason stock beginning to take some hits.
At the break the Billikins held a surprising slight advantage, albeit by a single point. Coming out of the half St. Louis went on a 12-3 run to give them a double digit advantage. Down the stretch the Wildcats attempted a comeback to get within five with 1:30 remaining. However with the Billikins going 9-10 from the charity stripe in the final minutes, there is nothing A10 leading scorer Jack Gibbs (26 points) could do to comeback.
The team was sparked by starting freshman Jermaine Bishop, scoring a career high 23 points in 32 minutes. Ash Yacoubu would also hit 27 points as the team shocked the Wildcats at home.
With a win over the Minutemen later in the week, Saint Louis has now gone from the basement of the conference to ninth in a week. I’m not saying that they will jump into the top half of teams but look to be in a solid position to get a first round bye in the conference tournament.
Dukes Stranded on a Bus
The leading story across the conference on Friday and Saturday was easily the Duquesne Dukes getting stuck on the Pennsylvania turnpike.
For those that do not know, after the Dukes 86-75 victory over George Mason on Friday afternoon, the team bus braved the blizzard to try and make it home. As many reasonable people would guess, the team did not make it home that night. In total it took the team more than 30 hours to make the full trek to Pittsburgh, 26 hours more than the regular route.
Through this whole ordeal my only question is did they really think they could make it home or was a preplanned publicity stunt? With the original game scheduled for Saturday at 4:00, the snow pushed up the game to Friday at 2:00 in a George Mason gym. Many of my reports found that there was a barring disagreement between multiple parties on moving the game and even postponing it (which was not going to happen if you look at Eagle Bank Arena’s schedule).
While this speculation is not likely, everyone is glad that the Dukes made it back to campus safe and sound. If it was a PR campaign put together by Duquesne and the A10, well done.
Mason Update: Losses to Fordham & Duquesne
This week George Mason had a huge opportunity to make strides in their rebuilding year. Playing the Fordham Rams and the Duquesne Dukes, the Patriots had a chance to escape the week with a 3-4 conference record, however blizzard Jonas had other plans.
The team had to burry themselves out of holes in both games, trailing as much as 13 and 17 points respectively. Somehow Mason brought it back to within four, an impressive feat for a team that is not built to play out of a deficit. The team does not create turnovers and does not like to have a full court press. Yet with the game within reach both Fordham and Duquesne closed it out.
Marquise Moore has emerged as the leader of this team with and 18 point, 6 rebounds, 6 assists against Fordham and then 12 point, 16 rebound, and 3 assist game against the Dukes. Marko Gujanicic has come off the bench well for the team, combining for 29 points this past week. The biggest shock/ disappointment is Shevon Thompson who continues to struggle this season, once again a no-factor this week.
George Mason however was the first Atlantic 10 team to get stuck on the road during the snow, fortunately they found shelter in a hotel.
Standings Beginning to Take Shape
As mentioned earlier, Saint Louis with a two game winning streak climbed back into the mix of the Atlantic 10 with a 3-4 record. At the top though, VCU is 7-0, the winners of 10 straight games and will be tested once again against Davidson (3-3), reeling from their upset loss at Saint Louis.
Dayton (6-1), Saint Joseph’s (5-1), and George Washington (4-2) have separated themselves and will probably be the only teams that will able to contend with VCU. Dropping from this list is St. Bonaventure (4-3) who lost to both the Flyers and the VCU Rams this week.
George Mason (1-6) has returned to the basement of the conference and will take on George Washington in their lone matchup this week.
Games to watch this week would be Davidson’s attempt to topple the city of Richmond. The team plays the Spiders on Monday night at 7:00 and the VCU Rams on Friday at 6:00 (ESPN2). Also be sure to check out Saint Joseph’s at Rhode Island, Saturday at 6:00 (CBSSN), which will be the story of two teams going in opposite directions.