WASHINGTON – George Washington defeated Saint Joseph's 76-71 Wednesday night, snapping a stretch of four straight home losses to the Hawks.
The senior-day win keeps the Colonials' (22-7, 10-5 Atlantic 10) hopes for a top-four seed and bye to the A-10 quarterfinals alive. The victory over the Hawks (21-8, 11-4) pulled the Colonials into a fourth-place tie in the A-10 and makes it likely George Washington is headed to the NCAA tournament.
Maurice Creek led the Colonials with 20 points and five rebounds, followed by Joe McDonald, who had 18 points and six boards, Patricio Garino with 17 points, and Isaiah Armwood, who added 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Ronald Roberts put up 16 points and eight rebounds for Saint Joseph's. Chris Wilson added 14 points and Langston Galloway had 10.
Midway through the first half, it seemed to be the Colonials' game to lose. Shaking off an early six-point hole, George Washington went on a tear, leading by as many as 14.
On defense, the Colonials unleashed a 1-3-1 zone that Saint Joseph's struggled to solve, its shooting dropping to 30.8 percent at one point. When a McDonald 3-pointer was immediately followed by a George Washington steal off a corner trap and a Garino driving layup, it was clear the Colonials had the upper hand.
But just as quickly as George Washington gained the advantage, Saint Joseph's came roaring back. DeAndre Bembry nailed a layup, sparking his team into a 16-0 run down the stretch.
The Colonials were held scoreless over the final 5:32 of the first, unable to right the ship even after coach Mike Lonergan called his team to the bench twice over that span. Once George Washington's confidence took a blow, the entire performance started to crumble - the Colonials turned it over three times and were outrebounded 6-2 over the final 5 minutes of the first.
The Hawks extended their two-point lead to open the second half. Solving the 1-3-1, Saint Joseph's kept George Washington just out of reach. But then Bembry was whistled for a technical foul, giving the Colonials a chance to make up some ground.
Next, Halil Kanacevic was slapped with his fourth foul, and Roberts was whistled for his fourth just minutes later and the two Hawks headed to the bench. The Colonials, in turn, capped an 8-0 run with a pair of Garino free throws that tied it at 55.
Kanacevic re-entered the game only to foul out and give Garino a three-point play to pull the Colonials ahead by two with 6:40 to go.
The Hawks, who shot 44.6 percent, missed clutch shots down the stretch. Saint Joseph's went just 8 of 26 from the 3-point arc.
Though the teams traded baskets over the final minutes of play, George Washington held off Saint Joseph's final push, using its 45.5 percent shooting to grab the win.
The Colonials head to Fordham Saturday, while Saint Joseph's will host La Salle Sunday.