To finish off our whirlwind holiday tour of America, my fiancée, Jessica, and I hopped on a plane and made our way to Washington, D.C., to visit a very good friend of hers, Shireen, and her new fiancée, William. Of course, when we originally planned this trip, the first thing I did was look for potential games I could go to for the 800 Games Project. Fortunately, our nation's capital is full of below-the-line schools. After perusing the schedules of the various local schools, I decided on a New Year's Eve game between George Washington and Delaware State. It turns out that I picked the perfect game to go to, because both William and Shireen graduated from law school at George Washington and their apartment, which they graciously allowed us to stay in, was within walking distance of the campus.
After the four of us grabbed brunch at a neighborhood restaurant, William and I bid farewell to the ladies and made our way through the streets of the city to the Charles E. Smith Center on the campus of George Washington. Due to the great weather that we were fortunate to have during the entire trip, the walk to the GW campus was actually enjoyable rather than a mad dash to escape the frigid temperatures usually associated with December 31st. After grabbing our tickets, we made our way to our seats. The Smith Center is a nice little arena for college basketball. With 5,000 seats, it's big enough to hold nice loud crowd, but small enough to where there isn't a bad seat in the house. On this night, due to the holiday season and the current losing streak of the home team, the Smith Center was only about a third full.
During the player introductions, I noticed that George Washington announced the majors of their athletes when they were introduced. This was something I hadn't seen before and I thought it was a great gesture to recognize their players as students as well as athletes. Shortly after the introductions, the game started, and the tip went to GW. After an empty possession both ways, GW junior guard Lasan Cromah started the scoring with a spin move and a lay in on the fast break. Delaware State quickly answered with a hook shot from junior forward Marques Oliver. The first eight minutes of the half continued on as a back-and-forth affair marked by a snail's pace and lots of sloppy play by both teams. At the under-12 timeout, the score sat at 11-11.
Coming out of the timeout, the back-and-forth game ended. GW quickly opened up a five-point lead with an Aaron Ware hook shot and Cromah three-pointer. Delaware State, on the other hand, spent most of their time dribbling around the perimeter without mounting any serious scoring threats. It was not until the 5:40 mark of the half that Delaware State was finally able to make another basket, with an and-one jumper from Kendall Gray. Despite the long scoring drought from the Hornets, GW was only able to build a seven-point lead thanks to their continued sloppy play and poor shooting.
After a few more minutes of play, the GW lead sat at 10 points with 50 seconds to play. Looking to build some momentum going in to halftime, Delaware State put together one of their better offensive possessions of the half and managed to find Gray wide open under the basket for a powerful dunk. Despite the eight-point deficit, it looked like Delaware State had grabbed some momentum. But, with 18 seconds still remaining on the clock, GW caught the Hornets sleeping on defense, and Kromah lobbed a pass up near the basket that was put home by senior forward Jabari Edwards with a strong alley-oop dunk that pushed the halftime lead back to 10 and seized the momentum back for GW.
The feature of the halftime entertainment was a five-minute scrimmage involving the sixth-grade boys of the Seahawks of the Reston Youth Association in nearby Reston, Virginia. The game was an exciting match between the blue team and the white team. The blue team started the scoring with a heave from the three point line that found its way to the bottom of the net and sent the crowd into a frenzy. But the excitement of the game was far from over. With the score sitting at 5-2 blue team with about 45 seconds left, the white team mounted a furious comeback with back-to-back layups, including one with only two seconds remaining, to win the game 6-5. It was a very entertaining halftime scrimmage, and the best part about it was it looked like all the kids had a ton of fun. The second half would be hard-pressed to live up the excitement of what we had just seen.
After the conclusion of the halftime festivities, the two teams retook the floor, and the second half began. Delaware State started the half with the ball. Due to poor execution and stifling defense from the Colonials, they turned the ball over on a shot clock violation. This ended up being a fitting foreshadow of the Hornets' fortunes in the second half. After the two teams exchanged a few buckets, GW's Edwards knocked down back-to-back jumpers in about 20 seconds, forcing the Hornets to take a timeout. The timeout did little to stop the oncoming Colonial surge. After two made free throws by GW's Serbian sophomore Nemanja Mikic, the Colonials put together three straight layups in 30 seconds thanks to quick hands and poor passing by Delaware State. The six quick points triggered a 16-0 run by the Colonials that was finally ended by an Amere May three-pointer for Delaware State at the 14:15 mark of the half.
The 16-0 run sealed the Hornets' fate, as they were unable to mount any type of answering run throughout the second half while George Washington senior star Tony Taylor made his presence felt with 14 second-half points. Delaware State was able to mount a last-minute surge to make the final deficit respectable, but still fell 77-59.
Despite the lopsided score, my first east-coast mid-major basketball game was a fun experience. Although it didn't have the same intensity as the Missouri Valley conference battles I'm used to (partly due to holiday lull), I left the Smith Center happy that I got to enjoy a basketball game in our nation's capital.
at GEORGE WASHINGTON 77, DELAWARE STATE 59 12/31/2011
DELAWARE STATE 4-8 (1-1) -- C. Walker 3-10 1-2 10; K. Gray 4-9 4-4 12; T. Bell 3-8 0-0 9; A. May 8-15 3-3 22; B. Oliver 1-1 1-3 3; M. Oliver 1-2 0-0 2; J. Joyner 0-1 1-2 1; A. Kasim 0-1 0-0 0; J. Marcellus 0-0 0-0 0; J. Lawson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-47 10-14 59. GEORGE WASHINGTON 5-8 (0-0) -- L. Kromah 6-15 2-2 15; T. Taylor 8-10 2-3 20; J. Kopriva 4-6 2-2 10; A. Ware 2-6 1-2 5; J. Edwards 5-8 1-2 11; B. Bynes 2-5 0-0 4; N. Mikic 0-4 2-2 2; D. Pellom 4-5 0-0 8; D. Smith 0-3 2-2 2; D. Guest 0-0 0-0 0; J. Davis 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 31-64 12-15 77.
Three-point goals: DEST 9-18 (A. May 3-6; C. Walker 3-7; T. Bell 3-5), GW 3-10 (T. Taylor 2-2; A. Ware 0-1; L. Kromah 1-4; N. Mikic 0-2; J. Davis 0-1); Rebounds: DEST 21 (K. Gray 10), GW 35 (J. Edwards 9); Assists: DEST 12 (B. Oliver 5), GW 17 (L. Kromah 5); Total Fouls -- DEST 10, GW 17; Fouled Out: DEST-None; GW-None.