By Kevin Sweeney
There was definitely a sense of urgency for both teams at Smith Center tonight, as George Washington & Davidson, both teams with NCAA Tournament aspirations, looked to avoid falling to 0-2 in conference play.
The Colonials eventually got the best of the Wildcats, holding off a late charge to snag a 73-69 victory Thursday night. Tyler Cavanaugh led the way for George Washington with 20 points, one of four players to score in double figures for the Colonials.
The game opened in exciting fashion, as the teams traded 3-point shots in a high-scoring start. Four of the first seven field goals were from downtown, with the final one from sophomore guard Jordan Roland giving the Colonials a 10-8 lead. That triple began a 15-4 run for GW, giving them an early double-digit lead. However, the Wildcats recovered nicely despite a slow start for star guard Jack Gibbs. While the scouting report on Davidson has long been “Stop Gibbs, stop Davidson”, the Wildcats were able to get things going by playing through junior big man Peyton Aldridge, an outstanding player in his own right. It was Aldridge’s 10 first half points, including 6 in a row down the stretch, that helped the Wildcats cut their deficit to just 35-33 at halftime.
The game remained very tight in the second half, with neither team really asserting control. However, a few plays seemed to swing the game in the Colonials’ favor. With just over 8 minutes to play, Gibbs was leading a fast break, but was stripped from behind by Jaren Sina, who went down the floor and drained a triple. That shot extended the GW lead to 7.
The Colonials seemed to be pulling away down the stretch, as Matt Hart, who hadn’t scored all night, scored 5 points in less than a minute to give GW a 9 point lead with only 3 minutes to go. The backbreaker was a triple by Hart with the shot clock running down that bounced high off the rim before dropping in. The Wildcats weren’t done though, scoring the next six points. All six were by Gibbs, who really heated up down the stretch. Four clutch free throws by Sina sealed the deal for George Washington, and the Colonials escaped with an always-valuable conference win.
Yuta Watanabe added 14 points for the Colonials, while Roland posted 13 points and Sina stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and two steals.
Aldridge’s 20 points led the way for Davidson, while Gibbs added 16.
George Washington begins a manageable stretch in their A10 schedule Sunday vs Richmond. They should be favored in each of their next 6 games except for on 1/11 vs VCU. Davidson is back in action Sunday at Saint Louis.