George Washington defeats Duquesne, 71-57

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - You wouldn’t know it from the commanding final score, but the scene inside George Washington’s locker room at halftime wasn’t pretty.

Duquesne closed the first half on a 19-6 run, deflating what was a double-digit lead for the Colonials.

Head coach Mike Lonergan wasn’t having it.

“That was probably really the first halftime I really kind of went off a little bit,” Lonergan said. “I’m trying to be a lot more positive because we have a mature team and an experienced team, but that was definitely disappointing. To be up 19 at home, and we kind of blew it because of some breakdowns.”

Whatever he said, it worked. George Washington continued its undefeated streak at home Wednesday night, taking down Duquesne 71-57.

It was a bounce-back victory for the Colonials (18-4, 6-2 Atlantic 10) after falling at Dayton last week. The Dukes (10-11, 2-6), meanwhile, lost their second straight.

Patricio Garino scored 17 points, Nemanja Mikic added 11 points for George Washington and Isaiah Armwood posted his eighth double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Larsen rounded out George Washington’s double-digit scorers, with 13 points.

“For me, Patricio had a lot of assists for me where he was driving and I was getting in position. Just uncontested layups,” Larsen said. “And I think the same goes for (Armwood), so Patricio and all the other guys really drove and created easy shots for me and Isaiah.”

Dominique McKoy led the way for Duquesne with 14 points, Ovie Soko had 13 and Micah Mason 11.

Joe McDonald and Maurice Creek returned after missing the Colonials’ last outing with a hip injury and illness, respectively. McDonald had six of George Washington’s 23 assists but Creek was quiet, possibly hampered by lingering illness.

Still, just the physical presence of the two guards was important for George Washington, Lonergan said, talking up the mental boost it gave the rest of his roster.

“I think it helps a lot, I think it helps with some of our role players, it kind of takes the pressure off them,” Lonergan said. “Just to see those guys.”

George Washington scored early and often in the first, including a stretch of play that saw the Colonials drain four back-to-back 3’s.

But Duquesne would not go quietly, using their sizeable run over the closing stretch of the half to enter the break down just six points. That offensive spurt was paced largely by Mason, the only player to reach double-digits before the break.

“It kind of gave them momentum, and we were only up six. So that was definitely disappointing,” Lonergan said. “But I thought we did a pretty good job in the second half. I mean, we didn’t shoot as well from threes and we definitely struggled from the free throw line, but our inside guys played another strong game.”

George Washington’s offense staggered at times, but managed a consistent 46.4 field goal percentage and, after the break, was never again in danger of losing its lead.

“We were trying to play inside the whole time,” Garino said. “Even the threes that we made, always come from the inside to the outside. We have to go inside the whole game.”

Duquesne found its firepower in spurts, looking to threaten a comeback throughout play. At one point during the second half, Soko slammed a dunk so vicious, it broke the rim at the Smith Center - necessitating a long timeout, a ladder and a level before it was fixed.

Still, the Dukes ultimately bowed in the face of the Colonials’ zone.

“Our 1-3-1 was able to run some clock and nurse the lead,” Lonergan said, “And it took Mason out of the game in the second half.”

They looked especially upended by George Washington’s defense at the beginning of the first half due to a combination of turnovers and inability to rebound.

The Dukes shot 20 for 59 from the field while committing 15 turnovers, and though they were able to mount a small comeback toward the end of the first, but the Colonials halted that run quickly. Duquesne was held to 28 percent shooting in the second.

“We were more focused (in the second),” Lonergan said. “I thought our decision-making, offensively, was a little suspect in the first half, but it was much better in the second half. We didn’t want to play tentatively, but we did want to run some clock.”

George Washington next hosts Fordham on Feb. 8, while Duquesne will take on George Mason.

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