CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Bunky Brown was one of four George Washington players in double figures and led the way with 28 points, while the Patriots outscored Woodrow Wilson 21-11 over the final 3:39 of Friday’s game to claim a 76-68 win in a Class AAA showdown.
“I’ve seen Beckley shoot the ball better, so we’re fortunate they missed some shots they normally hit,” GW coach Rick Greene said. “But our kids just kept going. They kept grinding. We really didn’t change our demeanor. The kids weren’t pouting or anything like that. They just kept trying to play every possession and when Bunky’s on the floor, you can get points in a hurry.
“I was proud of the kids that we never let up and never felt sorry for ourselves. We just kept grinding it out each possession.”
After Micah Hancock’s layup broke a 55-all tie in favor of the Eagles (4-5), Brown made 1-of-2 free throws and teammates Austin Castleberry and Gus Eddy followed with consecutive layups to give GW (8-1) a 60-57 lead with 2:54 remaining.
On separate occasions, Woodrow Wilson got back to within a point — the first time off a Danny Bickey jumper in the high post out of a timeout, before Bryce Radford made all three of his free throws in response to an Evan Hughes 3-pointer that had given GW a four-point lead at the moment.
But after Radford converted from the charity stripe, Hughes accounted for a conventional three-point play with 2:09 left to up the Patriots’ lead to 66-62.
Brown made two free throws with 44 seconds left to stretch the Patriots’ lead to 69-64 and after Radford’s two free throws narrowed the deficit to three points with 38 seconds on the clock, GW made 7-of-8 free throws in the final 35 seconds to seal the verdict.
“Beckley always has a good team and this is a rivalry game to us, so it’s a big win,” Brown said.
The Eagles got off to a strong start and held a 10-3 lead 5:08 into the action, but the Patriots scored 15 points over the final 2:52 of the opening quarter, including a 3 from about 35 feet that Zane McCarty made at the buzzer to give GW an 18-17 lead after one quarter.
Bickey made a pair of 3s early in the second quarter and after Radford scored inside and then assisted a Ben Gilliam bucket from close range, Woodrow Wilson was clinging to a 29-23 lead.
However, the Eagles’ offense was non-existent over the remainder of the half, and GW used an 8-0 run that featured two field goals from Castleberry along with inside baskets by Brown and Eddy, to enter halftime with a 31-29 lead.
Bickey, who had a team-high 11 points at the break, scored 11 more on a trio of 3s and a layup off a steal within the first 2:30 of the second half to give Woodrow Wilson a 40-34 lead.
A 3 from Radford stretched the lead to 48-38 at the 3:12 mark of the third quarter, but Eddy’s 3 capped off the third-quarter scoring and closed the GW deficit to 51-48 entering the fourth and final frame.
Brown’s three free throws with 5:13 remaining tied the game at 53 and the aggressive guard scored eight more points the rest of the way to give him 11 in the quarter and help the Patriots win their fifth straight.
Brown made 13-of-21 free throws and grabbed 10 rebounds in the victory.
Eddy added 12 points, while Castleberry (10 points, 7 rebounds) and Hughes (10 points, 6 rebounds) were also big factors in the victory.
“Evan’s played a lot, but he’s been like a role player in a sense playing with other guys,” Greene said. “Now he has to step up and do some things and he’s doing that. Austin Castleberry, that’s the best I’ve seen him play and that’s very encouraging, because he’s very talented. Gus had a good game.
“Different guys stepped up and that’s what I’ve told Bunky — ‘Hey as good as you are, you can’t do everything.’ That should give them confidence and even more important, that’ll give Bunky confidence and trust and that’s what we’re working on. We have to trust each other and I thought we did that tonight.”
Bickey, who made his first eight field-goal attempts, led all players with 30 points and made six 3s. Radford added 21 points and seven assists, but no other Woodrow Wilson player scored more than six points.
The Eagles also finished with 17 turnovers compared to eight for GW.
“We had some unforced turnovers that we shouldn’t have had,” Woodrow Wilson coach Ronald Kidd said. “It looked hard for us and it looked easy for them. When we turned the ball over, they’d shoot a layup. We come down and force a shot that we shouldn’t take at the time and they get the long rebound and shoot a layup. Everything looked for easy for them and it looked hard for us.”