George Washington and UMass both have made plenty of waves nationally and the Atlantic 10 but both came into Foggy Bottom on Saturday in a bit of a must-win situation. George Washington dropped to 7-3 in A10 play Wednesday when they fell at VCU, meanwhile UMass lost to the A10's last place team George Mason 91-80 at home. Both teams needed this game for confidence and A10 seeding.
The game was played with the intensity that the pregame hype suggested and neither squad was able to get away from one another until UMass went on a 13-1 run capped by a Derrick Gordon spinning layup that forced Mike Lonergan to take a timeout with 2:58 left. The run gave the Minutemen a 32-22 lead, but Patricio Garino and the Colonials fought back to cut the deficit to 32-29 at the half.
Sampson Carter was the star for UMass in the first half scoring 12 points for the Minutemen, 9 of which were from beyond the arc. Garino paced the Colonials with 11 points.
The back and forth affair stayed close in the second half but UMass was playing with a considerable disadvantage as both Carter and star point guard Chaz Williams fell into early foul trouble. Despite the disadvantage, UMass held the lead until the 3:58 mark when Maurice Creek tied the game at 59.
Despite knotting the game up the Colonials did not score from the field for the final five minutes and seventeen seconds. The drought from Lonergan's squad and a key steal from Chaz Williams with 12 seconds left would seal a 67-61 victory for the Minutemen.
Carter finished the game with a team high 20 points for the Minutemen. Meanwhile, Garino lead the Colonials with 20 points of his own.
UMass now enters a pivotal and very tough stretch where they'll host a pair of Rams with VCU coming into Amherst on Friday and Rhode Island visiting on February 26. George Washington will have to rebound after back-to-back loses by getting a win during a tough road trip to Richmond and Saint Louis next week.
Today's game was certainly big for the Minutemen with Saint Joseph's winning their seventh game earlier in the day and VCU losing at Saint Louis. UMass is now within striking distance of the Rams going into their Friday showdown.
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