By Kevin Sweeney
George Washington held off a late Siena rally to knock off the Saints 77-75 in a game that featured 17 lead changes.
The Colonials started strong with a 6-2 spurt, but 7 straight points from Siena’s Kadeem Smithen capped a 10-5 run to give the Saints a 12-11 lead. The lead changed hands multiple times as the half moved forward, but the one constant was the play of the Saints’ Marquis Wright, who put up 16 in the opening period. Meanwhile, the Colonials maintained a significant edge in the paint, dominating the offensive glass and putting up 22 of their 33 first half points from the paint.
The second half was a rollercoaster ride as the teams continued to trade blows. The Colonials delivered the first punch, taking an 8-point advantage on a Yuta Watanabe 3 just over 5 minutes into the half. However, Siena responded with a 12-0 run led by the resurgence of Nico Clareth, who was quiet in the first half but scored 5 points and had 2 assists during the spurt.
However, down the stretch, it was the Jaren Sina show. The Colonials’ point guard scored all 16 of his points in the final 9 minutes of the game, taking over and pushing GW out to a 6-point lead with just over 3 minutes to go. However, the Saints weren’t done, as a steal and a pair of free throws by Ahsante Shivers cut their deficit to one. However, Wright missed a pair of free throws on the next Siena possession, seemingly taking away all the momentum from the Saints.
George Washington maintained their lead the rest of the way. The Saints had a chance to tie or win after Watanabe missed a pair of free throws with under 5 seconds to play, but Clareth’s 3 fell well short as time expired.
Sina’s 16 points led the way for the Colonials, while Watanabe contributed a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. They also did an excellent job of shutting down MAAC Preseason First Team forward Brett Bisping, who put up just 5 points and 6 rebounds for the Saints.
George Washington will look to continue their undefeated start on Thursday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Saints have a difficult test ahead, as they travel to Allen Fieldhouse to take on Kansas on Friday night.