- Associated Press - Thursday, November 28, 2013

FULLERTON, Calif. — A career 39-percent shooter, Joe McDonald seemed an unlikely candidate to be the one to get the ball in his hands in a big moment.

But when that big moment arrived, George Washington’s sophomore guard made sure he didn’t miss it.

McDonald hit a game-tying layup with three seconds remaining to help the Colonials avoid a monumental collapse, and GW beat Miami 71-63 in overtime in the opening game of the Wooden Legacy on Thursday morning.

“I talked to coach so I knew he was going to let us play it out and see,” McDonald said. “I felt like I could take advantage of their freshman guard who’s a little smaller and I waited for my shot.”

McDonald’s clutch layup tied the game at 59 after the Colonials (5-0) had blown a late double-digit lead, and then he opened the scoring in overtime with a three-pointer from the left elbow to start a 12-2 run that secured the victory and kept GW undefeated.

Nemanja Mikic scored a team-high 16 points off the bench and Isaiah Armwood had 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Colonials, who were up 47-35 with 10:47 remaining but couldn’t hold it. Maurice Creek (15 points), Kethan Savage (11) and McDonald (10) also reached double-figures for George Washington.

“It was a hard-fought game and it didn’t look good for us late,” Colonials coach Mike Lonergan said. “But our guys hung in there and made some plays and forced the game into overtime, where we played well.”

Garrius Adams scored a game-high 17 points for the Hurricanes (3-3), including 15 in the second half. Rion Brown added 16 points and nine rebounds and James Kelly scored 11 points off the bench

A series of big runs had staked GW to a 12-point lead with just over 10 minutes left, but Adams and the ‘Canes stormed back to take a 59-57 lead with a minute remaining.

Adams, a graduate guard, poured in 15 points in a 10-minute stretch to lead Miami on a 22-8 run, and it took its first lead of the second half when Brown nailed a pair of free throws to give the Hurricanes a 57-55 lead with 2:43 remaining, which they extended to 59-56 with just over a minute left.

But Miami couldn’t score on any of its final three possessions, and a Creek free throw and McDonald’s late layup sent it to OT.

“The last possession we had the ball and were really hoping to draw a foul, to really attack the basket,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “They went to that 1-3-1 zone and we never solved that. We were very tentative against that defense. We ended up giving them some open looks and they cashed in.”

McDonald fired the opening salvo in the extra period, nailing a 3-pointer from the left elbow to give GW the lead back. Armwood followed with an emphatic dunk, and a 3-pointer by Creek as the shot clock expired sunk Miami for good.

“I didn’t have a great shooting night, but with time running down I was just telling my teammates to get me the ball and Joe McDonald got the ball in my hands again,” Creek said. “That’s a prime example of having a great point guard that we have. He found me and he knew where I would be to knock down that shot.”

The Colonials shot 47.5 percent from the field, including 50 percent from 3-point range, compared to 36.2 percent shooting for Miami.

“It definitely sucks to lose the game,” Hurricanes forward Donnavan Kirk said. “We’ve just got to put more emphasis on getting stops and getting better on defense. We’ll see that turn around.”

The Colonials closed the first half on a 7-2 run to take a 27-26 lead at halftime, and then opened the second half on a 20-9 run give them that 47-35 lead.

George Washington’s victory extended a pair of short winning streaks. The Colonials are now 3-0 all-time against Miami, beating them in 1971 and 1991 in addition to Thursday, and Lonergan is now 3-0 all-time against Larranaga. As the head coach at Vermont, Lonergan defeated Larranaga’s George Mason teams in 2007 and 2008.



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