Isaiah Armwood and George Washington found themselves on the verge of a blowout loss in the middle of the first half of Sunday’s BB&T Classic.
There was only one thing he and the Colonials could do about it.
“We started the game off slow, so I didn’t feel good about it,” Armwood said. “We figured out we had to slow the game down.”
That meant running things through Armwood.
The Villanova transfer had a career-high 23 points, as well as nine rebound and six blocks, as George Washington rallied for a 67-55 victory over Manhattan at Verizon Center.
Lasan Kromah added 18 points for the Colonials (4-3), who moved over .500 for the first time, while freshman Patricio Garino helped hold Manhattan star guard George Beamon to just nine points.
George Washington is a team of evident deficiencies; they struggle to shoot from the perimeter and are flustered against the press (as its 23 turnovers against the Jaspers suggest). The Colonials wisely veered away from hoisting outside shots, but freshman point guard Joe McDonald (no points and four fouls in 12 minutes) endured a difficult day.
Nonetheless, Armwood is an asset the Jaspers (2-4) could not counter. He scored seven of the Colonials’ last nine points before the half to forge a 32-32 tie. More importantly, he had four of his six blocks before the break, denying Manhattan any easy looks.
“He was definitely a defensive presence that bothered us,” Jaspers coach Steve Masiello said.
This was the sort of day that demonstrated just what George Washington got when Armwood departed Villanova two summers ago. He had a small role in the Wildcats’ guard-oriented system. In Mike Lonergan, he would have a coach who could view him as a program centerpiece.
It’s worked out that way early this season, with Armwood averaging 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds. And never was it more obvious than Sunday, when Armwood took full advantage of opportunities his guards created as the Colonials expanded a 48-46 lead over the final nine minutes.
“I thought Isaiah really controlled the game,” Lonergan said. If things break right for the Colonials, it won’t be the last time