- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dwayne Smith’s recent scoring surge continued Sunday for George Washington. The rest of the Colonials did their part for the offense, too.

Smith had 10 points and five rebounds in just 14 minutes as GW blasted undermanned Sacred Heart 77-38 at the Smith Center, his third double-digit outing in four games.

It was a welcome sign for the Colonials (6-6), who a game away from diving into Atlantic 10 play. Smith’s slow start all around was a bit of a concern, especially after a promising offseason led coach Mike Lonergan to believe Smith would be a crucial piece in his senior season.

But minutes were sparse in the early stages of the season and so was production. Meanwhile, Villanova transfer Isaiah Armwood flourished and freshman Kevin Larsen quickly worked his way into the starting lineup.

That left Smith, who dealt with concussion symptoms in the early stages of last season, off to another sluggish start.

“He’s always been able to score,” Lonergan said. “It’s just rebounding and some things I thought he needed to do a better job with and he did — he rebounded. He’s been scoring per-minute a lot of points, against the higher-quality teams we’ve played as well.”

The Pioneers (2-9), who dressed only nine players and shot just 23.7 percent from the floor, would not count as one of those.

It was still a one-possession game after eight minutes before the Colonials scored 12 straight points to effectively decide things well before halftime.

“I thought our defense was good from the start, and we then we got better offensively as the game went on,” Lonergan said.

It also offered the opportunity to find production from atypical places as the Colonials rolled to their most lopsided victory since a 78-39 pummeling of UMES in 2007. It was the fewest points GW allowed since a 49-20 defeat of Saint Louis in 2008.

Reserve guard Bryan Bynes matched a season-high with nine points, all in the first half. Freshman Paris Maragkos, whose mother was visiting from Greece this week, scored eight points in 15 minutes; he’d logged six points in 19 minutes all season before Sunday.

“I’m happy, especially for the guys that don’t play as much,” Smith said. “They all saw a lot of minutes and everybody scored which is very good for the team.”

It was also good for the Colonials that Smith carried over his strong play from just before Christmas. He’s averaging 12.5 points over his last four games, with three double-digit games off the bench.

Of equal importance to Lonergan is an all-around game that’s improved as nonconference play progressed.

“I had a slow start, and coach has been stressing to do things other than scoring,” Smith said. “As the games progressed, I’ve been able to focus more on other things — rebounding, team defense, things other than scoring. It’s starting to work in my favor.”

Still, offense is Smith’s greatest strength, and Lonergan would happily take a reliable interior scoring option to complement Armwood in the second half of the season. With fellow forward David Pellom’s return from wrist surgery still uncertain (he is expected to be re-evaluated early next month), Smith’s production could be vital moving forward.

“I’ve never been worried about him,” Lonergan said. “I knew he would come along and we just have to keep building on it. We need scoring and he can bring that to the table.”



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