Victory is further proof young Colonials are rapidly improving
After his team's performance Saturday, George Washington coach Mike Lonergan may never take off his tennis shoes.
Wearing white Nikes to aid the Coaches vs. Cancer program, Lonergan guided the Colonials to his best win in two seasons in Foggy Bottom. In a remarkable demonstration of chemistry and cohesion, GW thrashed formidable Charlotte 82-54 before 2,421 at Smith Center.
With Patricio Garino (16 points, four steals) hitting all six of his shots, leading a suffocating defense and throwing down a celebratory fast-break slam in the closing minutes, GW toppled a team that entered tied for first place in the Atlantic 10.
After winning back-to-back road games, Saturday was more evidence that even with four freshman starters, rapidly rising GW (10-9, 4-2) may be ready to compete this season in the vastly improved A-10.
"We're getting better, which is what I'm excited about, and our seniors are playing like seniors," Lonergan said.
Saturday was a thorough deconstruction of Charlotte (16-4, 4-2). GW had more rebounds (40-27) and more assists (17-6), hit 53.2 percent of its shots and limited the 49ers to 31.6 percent shooting overall and 16.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Also contributing for GW were Lasan Kromah (12 points, five rebounds, three steals) and Isaiah Armwood (nine points, eight rebounds), while its pair of point guards, Bryan Bynes (12 points, four assists) and Joe McDonald (eight points, five assists), had just three turnovers combined.
With an early 7-0 run, GW took a lead it never relinquished. In the second half, Charlotte applied the kind of fullcourt pressure that rattled the Colonials earlier in the year. On Saturday, GW beat it repeatedly, producing fast-break opportunities.
"Our freshmen are getting experience. Joe McDonald is much better now than he was the beginning of the year." Lonergan said. "It's like a rookie quarterback. Not everybody's RGIII. It's a hard position."
The game had even more meaning for Lonergan, whose mother died of cancer. It also took his beloved coach at Catholic, Jack Bruen.
"It's important for me," Lonergan said. "I always felt my mom and Jack Bruen are helping coach my team. It was special in that way."