Image credit: richmondspiders.com
By: Abe Rothstein
Following a thrilling victory to greet the addition of Loyola Chicago to the Atlantic 10, George Washington (7-7, 1-0 A10) had a tough matchup against conference foe and longtime rival Richmond (7-7, 0-1 A10). Coming into Wednesday’s showdown, Richmond had defeated the Buff & Blue in their previous five matchups, along with nine out of the last 10.
The conference battle featured two of the leading scorers in the conference in GW’s senior guard James Bishop, who was averaging 21.9 points per game coming into Wednesday’s game, and senior Tyler Burton, the star wing of Richmond who was averaging 19.1 points a game. From the opening tip, we were given a back and forth matchup. Bishop opened the scoring for GW with 10 points within the first 10 minutes of the game. Following his second 40 point performance of the year, it looked like James Bishop was picking up right where he left off.
The back and forth nature of the first half was fun and the game was consistently close. Senior forward Ricky Lindo looked to bounce back from his struggles with foul trouble, and was taken out of the game after having two in the first half. While fouls did take Lindo out of the game, he highlighted his play with a monstrous dunk with 8:20 remaining in the half. Senior forward Hunter Dean, who is back in the starting lineup, was effective in the low post, making several hook shots against a large Richmond center in senior Neal Quinn. Going into half, GW led 39-37, and this was the end of their control of the game.
The second half started in an identical fashion to the beginning of the game with a Neal Quinn layup over Hunter Dean. This would be a sign of things to come for GW. Out of the gate, Richmond took the lead and didn’t let up. Tyler Burton carried Richmond with 13 points in the second half, but GW was still able to get some stops. Unfortunately for the Buff & Blue, they were not able to answer on the offensive end, highlighted by head coach Chris Caputo saying “Guys competed, ultimately we missed some shots, when the game is that close we have to do shot making on the road.”
The final score was 73-63 in favor of Richmond and both teams moved to 1-1 in Atlantic 10 play.
GW’s top scorers, Bishop and Brendan Adams, a graduate student guard, combined to shoot 6-for-19 in the second half, which almost mirrored the GW shooting totals from three (5-for-19). There are not many games that can be won shooting 19.2% (5-for-26) from three and only 41% (25-for-61) from the field in the game. Besides Bishop, who finished the game with 25 points (his 30th career game with 20+ points), GW desperately needs players to step up to fill massive voids.
The Buff & Blue were given bad news this afternoon with the official announcement of graduate transfer guard EJ Clark being ruled out for the year following foot surgery. As Clark was inserted into the starting lineup, GW lost a starter on a team that was already incredibly thin. Even with Clark playing, Bishop and Adams played a majority of the minutes, and now fatigue is more likely between the two. Adams, who had his first game of the season under 10 points, may have been overworked according to Caputo.
“He was guarding [Tyler] Burton for a while, and that can take a lot out of you. We are obviously shorthanded, and there is a little wear and tear in a game like this.”
With the lack of guards for GW, expect more playing time from graduate student Amir Harris. Harris brings defensive prowess, but still is extremely reluctant to score on offense after a rough start. Redshirt freshman Maximus Edwards was also inserted back into the starting five following the injury to Clark, but struggled today, finishing with only seven points on 3-11 shooting. GW is a thin team and Caputo is the first to admit it by saying “our guard depth is problematic.”
Moving forward, will we see sophomore guard Laziz Talipov? Or a Tom Thibodeau-esque guard rotation?
GW will continue their conference schedule against UMass on Saturday January 7 at 2PM. That game can be found on USA Network and WRGW.