Bishop’s Last-Second Heroics Stun VCU in Instant Classic

Photo credit: GW men’s basketball

By Matthew Brooks (@brooksie1219)

The George Washington Revolutionaries (12-3, 1-1 A10) commenced their conference play last Wednesday with an inopportune 3OT loss to Fordham at home. However, in a nationally televised spectacle, GW went into the historically formidable Siegel Center and secured a remarkable upset victory against the VCU Rams (8-7, 0-2 A10) by a score of 84-82.

The Revs’ guards were outstanding on the offensive front. Redshirt sophomore guard Max Edwards dominated the first half, concluding the game with 20 points and six rebounds. Then, in the second half, senior guard James Bishop took the spotlight, finishing with 28 points, including the game-winning shot with 1.5 seconds remaining.

Throughout the game, it was GW’s improved defense that stood out and created opportunities for them to stay competitive. VCU was limited to a modest 41.5% shooting performance. Sean Baristow, averaging 14.7 points per game and a 44% field goal percentage coming into the game, finished with only seven points and shot 2-for-13 from the field.

GW faced an early setback in the first half, going 2-for-9 from the field and committing three turnovers. They found themselves at an eight-point deficit during the first media timeout. However, all season long, GW has excelled in drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line. Their ability to do so in this game allowed them to gradually narrow the gap. They entered the bonus with nine minutes remaining in the first half, concluding with a 9-for-11 free-throw record while VCU managed only 1-for-4. Coupled with matching VCU’s pace for the remainder of the half, GW closed the gap to a mere two points at halftime, with a score of 35-33.

The first half also saw contributions from deeper within the rotation. With sophomore wing Benny Schröder sidelined due to illness, GW looked to graduate forward Antoine Smith Jr. and freshman forward Zamoku Weluche-Ume for depth. Although they didn’t make a splash in the counting stats, their six combined minutes provided sturdy defense and allowed the starters a much-needed respite.

In the second half, Bishop took charge. He shot 7-for-10 from the field, 2-for-4 from three-point range, and a remarkable 7-for-8 from the free-throw line, amassing 23 points solely in the second half. Redshirt freshman forward Garrett Johnson also stepped up, scoring 11 points on 3-for-4 shooting and finishing a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. This resurgence came after a relatively subdued first half, demonstrating the versatility of the GW offense, not solely reliant on Bishop at all times like it has been in years past.

With three minutes left in the game, GW led 76-73. Graduate center Babatunde “Stretch” Akingbola delivered his fifth and final block of the game at a critical juncture, but a travel call on Bishop during the next possession allowed VCU to narrow the margin to just one point.

Subsequently, with 50 seconds remaining on the clock, GW was once again leading by three at 80-77. However, a contentious touch foul was called on a three-point attempt from former GW guard Joe Bamisile, allowing him to convert and tie the game.

Yet, with only one second left on the clock, James Bishop made the shot of the season, an indomitable display that reclaimed the lead for GW and secured their victory at 84-82. It was an unstoppable shot, leaving no possibility for anyone from VCU to prevent the ball from finding the basket. With this extraordinary shot and his performance today, Bishop further solidifies his legacy as one of the greatest George Washington University basketball players of all time, and a prospect that many NBA teams should be taking a hard look at.

Following this upset victory, GW advances to 1-1 in conference play. They will enjoy a week of rest before returning home to face the Davidson Wildcats (10-4, 0-1 A10) on Saturday, January 13th, at 2:00 PM. The game will be broadcast on WRGW, ESPN+, and the Monumental Sports Network.

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