GW Upsets Dayton 76-69 in Front of Lively Home Crowd

Image Credit: Mitchell Layton

By: Abe Rothstein

“100%, there is no one in the locker room that thinks we can’t [win the A-10].” The words of redshirt freshman Max Edwards rang true as the Buff and Blue secured a giant upset against a perennial NCAA tournament team in the Dayton Flyers. Coming into the Saturday matinee, Dayton had won five consecutive matchups against GW, with more than three of those victories coming by over 20 points or more. But as the Buff and Blue have done all year, they fought and competed for a wire-to-wire victory 76-69 against the Flyers. 

From the opening tip, energy in the Charles E. Smith Center was high, as GW looked to make it three wins in their last four, and honestly, it should be 4 out of 4 if not for the catastrophic 10-minute scoring drought against SLU. The rafters were packed with students after a pregame donuts and coffee giveaway sponsored by Coach Caputo prior to the game. While still early in the day, GW students were as passionate as ever as they looked to compete with the swaths of Dayton Flyers fans in the Smith Center.

GW had their hands full against an extremely talented Dayton team, littered with high-profile recruits and a possible Atlantic 10 Player of the Year in DaRon Holmes. A player which 18 scouts from NBA teams, such as the Nets, Nuggets, Pistons, Wizards, Hornets, Bulls, Timberwolves, and 76ers, along with FIBA, came to see. 

Once again, GW looked to shut down an opposing player with scouts in the building as they had done against possible lottery pick GG Jackson against South Carolina earlier this year. Guarding the possible A10 POTY was a tall task for Hunter Dean and the Buff and Blue, but GW had a game plan. Oftentimes at the first touch of the ball from Holmes, GW looked to double, which forced Holmes to pass out of the low block, an area in which he excels. With weak 3-point shooting for the Flyers, GW had the ability to exploit Holmes on the double team. They did not only exploit Holmes but were able to use their staunch defense to run in transition, “We’ve been trying to get better defensively, every day. You are allowed to play fast when you defend, “ Coach Caputo continued, “For us, we’ve had incremental improvements at moments… but you know it will give you a chance most nights when you can defend.” 

Max Edwards has surely improved in his recent play, and he made sure that Dayton was aware of this, as he had multiple dunks in the first half, including one to open up the scoring in the game. The emergence of Edwards as a reliable third option on the team opens up a lot more for Brendan Adams and James Bishop, both players who have been dominant this year for GW. Along with Edwards in the first half, James Bishop continued his dominance against all opponents. Finishing with six assists in the first half, along with several acrobatic layups and and-ones. The crowd was in awe when Bishop beat the shot clock with a shot coming from behind the basket. The half was capped with a three from Edwards at the buzzer to send GW into the locker room up 36-22. 

Coach Chris Caputo has taken note of James Bishop’s passing prowess, “ [Bishop] is so poised, so skillful, not a big guy, but he’s tough… The guys I’ve coached… I coached Shane Larkin, who was the 16th or 17th pick in the draft….” Caputo continued his praise, “[Larkin] could hang on to it with bigger guys … James is like hang on to it hang on to it… He makes it look easy.”

Starting the second half, it had looked like Dayton Head Coach Anthony Grant had made some adjustments, leading to a Dayton 7-1 run to start the half. In addition to the quick shots they started to make, the Flyers came out in a full-court press, which caused several turnovers for GW. While the Buff and Blue seemed flustered at points, they quickly regrouped and used the speed of the guards to take advantage.  

“They’re a great defensive team… it was big for us to use our speed and get to the rim,” Bishop said postgame. The senior guard used his speed to consistently get to the rim using his left hand, which is where he was able to score many of his game-high 27 points from. 

While the scouts were likely there to watch Holmes, Bishop once again wowed in front of the scouts. When asked about his performance in front of scouts, the senior noted that he hadn’t even realized, “I had no clue. I didn’t even know until you told me… I’m worried about George Washington.”

GW had their lead cut down to only 7 points with about 7 minutes to go, and Dayton had the chance to bring themselves back into the game, which their fanbase at the Smith Center was itching for. The Flyers had their chances, but the GW defense was able to get their stops, including several blocks from Ricky Lindo Jr., along with timely defensive plays from Hunter Dean and Noel Brown. 

Caputo talked about his practice philosophy, “We are spending 80% of our [practices] on defense.” 

The defense was essential in shutting down DaRon Holmes, who finished the game with 14 points and ten rebounds on only 5-15 shooting. 

Between the defense from GW to their foul shooting, they were able to seal the game, even though it had seemed as if Dayton would not go away. Brendan Adams (18PTS, 8 REB) was 11-12 from the free throw line to help close the game for the Buff and Blue, who got their biggest win on their home court in years. 

Following the buzzer, there was pandemonium in the Smith Center as Max Edwards did a Lambeau leap-style jump into the George’s Army section. Brendan Adams joined him as the Buff and Blue celebrated a huge victory. 

Edwards, who finished the game with 15 points, spoke about the importance and impact that George’s Army has on the team, “It was a long winter break. I don’t know how many games we had without them here, but it was great to see them and they got loud. We needed them today.” 

The connection between the fans and the players is obvious, and the energy surrounding the Buff and Blue is apparent. With a team that includes a potential A-10 Player of the Year in James Bishop, along with a candidate for most improved in Brendan Adams and a possible A-10 rookie of the year in Maximus Edwards, GW seems to be in good hands. For the first time in years, fans have the chance to watch a team that is competitive in A-10 play, as they currently stand in 4th place. GW has put the A-10 on notice, and they are confident in their future. 

GW will face another conference foe against St. Joe’s on Wednesday, January 25th, at 7 pm. That game will be broadcasted live on WRGW and ESPN+. 

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