Men’s basketball succumbed to South Carolina Sunday, snapping its two-game win streak.
The Colonials (3-5) lacked efficiency from the floor, making 33.3 percent of their shots and dropping the contest 65–74 to the Gamecocks (5-3). Despite outscoring the Gamecocks in the second half, GW couldn’t bounce back from its 12-point deficit in the first frame.
The matchup against South Carolina continued GW’s trend of cold starts and resurgent second halves. In the first frame, the Colonials carried a 26.5 field goal percentage and went 2-of-15 from beyond the arc. After halftime, GW shot at a .400 clip from the floor and made six triples.
Freshman forward Jamison Battle and redshirt senior guard Armel Potter provided the majority of GW’s offensive production, producing 40 of the Colonials’ 65 points. Of GW’s eight triples in the contest, Battle was responsible for six of them, ending with a season-high 18 points on the day.
Battle ranks third in the Atlantic 10 in three-point shooting percentage, firing at a .464 clip from deep. He’s netted 31 buckets from beyond the arc this season, leading GW and the A-10. The big man ranks third on the team in points per game, averaging 12 points per contest.
“Jamison has really proven to be a talented player, really able to take outside shots and we’re trying to continue to advance him within the offense and have him do a little bit more,” head coach Jamion Christian said. “But he really fits our system well and he’s a great player.”
Potter ran the point for the Colonials, dishing out 22 points to lead all players on the floor. Potter, who had a breakout performance in the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase, averages 13.9 points on the season and 22.3 in his last four games.
Since the team’s loss to Morgan State Nov. 16, Potter has shared minutes at the point with freshman Jameer Nelson Jr., who started the season as GW’s main point guard.
Despite Battle and Potter’s production, the Colonials were missing a stable supply of offense from junior guard Maceo Jack, who went 0-of-11 from the floor. His three points were below his 10.3 points per game and his lowest point total since the team topped Howard Nov. 9.
The Colonials started on a good note, forcing a turnover to reclaim the tip-off and scoring the first blow with a layup from freshman guard Shawn Walker Jr. But GW was unable to sustain the momentum and the Gamecocks went on an unanswered 17-point blitz.
GW’s offense limped along for the majority of the first half, shooting 16 percent throughout the first 15 minutes. Battle’s 2-of-5 three-pointer shooting gave GW a much-needed boost heading into the half but couldn’t produce enough points to make up for the deficit.
South Carolina demonstrated a defensive prowess that propelled the Gamecocks to fourth place in steals per game (7.5) and third in blocks per game (5.4) in the Southeastern Conference this year. But GW was able to force 12 turnovers and only gave up four in return, its lowest turnover count in a game all season and well below its average of 12.5 turnovers per game.
“One of the things that we’re trying to do is just be consistent with our defensive intensity,” Christian said. “When we do that and the guys can fully learn the system we’ll be able to create more turnovers. And conversely on the offensive end, the more comfortable we get there the more our turnovers will go down as well.”
Limiting turnovers allowed the Colonials to stay competitive until late in the second half. With less than two minutes of play remaining, a triple from Nelson Jr. cut South Carolina’s lead to eight until a steal and fast-break dunk by redshirt freshman guard Jermain Couisnard killed GW’s momentum to close out the contest with a nine-point margin.
Without senior forward Arnaldo Toro, who leads the team with 12.5 rebounds per game, in the lineup for the fourth consecutive game, the Gamecocks out-rebounded the Colonials by 14 boards. But GW outpaced South Carolina in second-chance points, notching 19 points and 11 more than the Gamecocks.
A difference maker came in the paint, with South Carolina drawing 56.8 percent of its total points from down low. GW muscled 28 points of its own in the paint.
The Colonials are back in action Wednesday as they return to the Smith Center to take on Boston University. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.