- The Washington Times - Friday, January 16, 2015

George Washington forward Kevin Larsen knows he sometimes tries to do too much on the court. He’s simply trying to emulate some of his favorite NBA players, who also play recklessly.

Which players?

“Dwight Howard, Josh Smith,” the junior says with a deep laugh.

Like his favorites, Larsen has at times been maddeningly inconsistent this season. In a loss to La Salle over the weekend, for example, he finished with zero points and six turnovers.

But when the native of Copenhagen is playing with equal parts aggression and awareness, he’s difficult to stop. And that’s how he played Thursday night to lead the Colonials to a 73-70 win over Richmond.

In a back-and-forth, up-and-down, double-overtime game, Larsen matched a career high with 22 points and added a team-high 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. He was in the middle of several game-altering plays, from swatting away a potential go-ahead layup at the end of the first overtime period to making four crucial free throws in the second overtime to help secure the win.

“He can score on his own but he’s also really a terrific passer, so you can’t commit all the time to double-teaming him,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. “He’s probably the first guy you talk about, but then you also can’t just worry about him because they have other players, and he’s a good passer.”

Larsen had 14 points in regulation as the Colonials seemed to be rolling toward a bounce-back win in the program’s annual “BUFF OUT” game. But with less than 10 seconds left and a three-point lead, coach Mike Lonergan instructed his team to foul near mid-court.

As Richmond guard Kendall Anthony worked his way to the periphery of three-point range, Patricio Garino, who finished with 10 points, reached in to foul and Anthony smartly threw the ball towards the backboard.

The referees ruled that Anthony had been fouled in the process of shooting and awarded him three free throws. He made all three, unexpectedly prolonging a game that George Washington had led by as many as 11.

“I guess I didn’t communicate well enough in the timeout,” Lonergan said. “We’ve worked on it. It worked out the way we wanted. We knew the little guy was going to get it and just said, ‘Try to turn him once when he got to the half-court line.’ … For whatever reason, we backed off of him and then we reached in.”

The Spiders struck first in overtime, reclaiming the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game. The two teams traded buckets and free throws until Kethan Savage, who scored 13 points, hit two free throws to tie the score at 58 with 10 seconds left.

Anthony, who finished with 20 points, took the ball downcourt and raced toward the basket. Larsen blocked it under the hoop as time expired, a foul call on the play was withdrawn after a video review, and the game pressed on. Larsen then scored George Washington’s first three points in the second overtime period.

“Just playing smarter and more aggressive,” Larsen said. “At La Salle, I tried to do too much instead of just letting the game come to me. That’s when I’m best, when I just play with the flow, and that’s what I did tonight.”

On the Colonials’ next possession, junior Joe McDonald worked to the left side of the three-point arc and had a noticeable cushion. So he stopped and swished a three-pointer that put George Washington ahead for good, a decisive blow in the program’s first double-overtime game since January 25, 2009.

“Joe’s big three — that was as loud as I’ve heard the crowd here in a couple years,” Lonergan said.

McDonald finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Afterwards, he said he was only able to make that three-pointer because the defense allowed him to take it.

And that openness, like many aspects of George Washington’s offense, in some ways traces back to Larsen, an inconsistent player who proved to be consistently impactful Thursday night.

“When he’s aggressive, it makes all of us better,” McDonald said. “I get open threes like that, or Kethan gets his driving lanes, Patricio gets his driving lanes. When Kevin’s aggressive, our team is a lot better.”

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