Creek’s 3 with 4:40 bumped the lead to 16 and the George Washington student section, sensing a victory, serenaded their team with the chorus to “Seven Nation Army.”
George Washington is one of the top turnaround teams in the country. Coming off a second-straight losing season under Lonergan, the Colonials bounced back and challenged for the Atlantic 10 title this year behind the Indiana transfer Creek and a contingent of five international players, including Garino from Argentina and Larsen from Denmark.
Mikic, a senior from Serbia, doubled his scoring average in the first half by hitting three 3-pointers as GW took control.
“We’ve known he’s been a good shooter for a long time, but that nine points in the first half, actually, that kind of propelled them and gave them some confidence,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said. “He’s a good player. He gives them another weapon.”
Esho, as he did in UMass’ victory against Rhode Island on Thursday night, came off the bench to spark the Minutemen with his play in the paint and 10 points, including a one-handed slam off a steal in the first half that brought the UMass fans to life.
The Minutemen had trimmed GW’s early double-digit lead to four in the final minute, but the Colonials finished with a flourish.
Nick Griffin made a corner 3 with 23 seconds left in the half and Creek stole UMass’ inbounds pass. Creek missed the short jumper, but Armwood cleaned up and sent the Colonials to the locker room with a 40-31 lead.
“A couple of non-smart basketball plays gave them momentum going into halftime,” Kellogg said.