WASHINGTON (AP) - Patricio Garino scored a career-high 25 points, Kevin Larsen added a career-high 22, Isaiah Armwood had 11 points and 14 rebounds, and George Washington’s resurgent season hit another peak Tuesday night with a 76-66 win over Virginia Commonwealth.
The Colonials shot 56 percent, dominated the paint, and held on after the Rams cut an 11-point deficit to four in the second half. GW (14-3, 2-1 Atlantic 10) matched VCU’s notoriously torrid pace with stout defense, blocking eight shots and holding the Rams to 37 percent shooting.
Rob Brandenberg scored 17 points to lead the Rams (13-4, 1-1), who had their five-game winning streak snapped. VCU spent the second half staying close but unable to catch up. JeQuan Lewis’ layup made the score 61-57 with 6 minutes remaining, but the Colonials answered with a 15-9 run to close out the game.
The Rams, No. 1 in the country in turnover margin, made it a game by pressing constantly and forcing GW into 21 turnovers, but the Colonials broke the press often enough, and VCU couldn’t overcome deficits of 45-29 in rebounding and 46-30 in points in the paint.
It’s been several years since the Colonials have had a team this good, and the first visit from VCU as a league rival brought back the intimidating, sold-out atmosphere that became so routine when the school was a regular in the Top 25. As if the evening needed more flair, George Washington used the occasion to induct Class of ‘82 standout Mike Brey into its Hall of Fame and debuted a new buff-colored jersey featuring the White House, Washington Monument and Capitol below the numbers on the back.
The teams lived up to the intensity, playing fast-paced, don’t-turn-your-head basketball with in-your-face defense. Neither team led by more than five until the Colonials’ closed the first half with a 9-2 run to take a 36-29 lead. Armwood started the run with a block, Kethan Savage roused the crowd with a one-handed driving dunk worthy of his last name, and Maurice Creek drove for a layup to push the lead to seven.