CHARLESTON, W.Va. — George Washington willed its way into the paint time and time again Friday night, enabling the Patriots to put forth a stellar offensive performance in a 79-62 win at Capital.
The Patriots shot better than 57 percent from the field and had only eight turnovers against a Cougars team that entered having won 10 straight.
“We’re good shooters, but to say you’re going to come in and against them and shoot over 50 percent, that was just a really, really good shooting night,” GW coach Rick Greene said. “But having said that, I’m super happy with single digit turnovers. Against their pressure, we turn it over under 10 times, that’s what I’m the happiest about. That won’t ever go away. The shooting will go away.”
Bunky Brown led the way for GW (16-2) with 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting. Brown consistently got to the basket and put pressure on the Cougars’ defense, while scoring 29 points over the final three quarters.
Brown had plenty of help as well, particularly early on, when Evan Hughes, Gus Eddy and and William Gabbert each hit 3-pointers to help the Patriots hold a 14-7 lead.
When Justin Castleberry knocked in a 3 to finalize the first-quarter scoring, it allowed GW to hold a 20-11 lead despite Brown having only two points.
“No disrespect to anybody anywhere, but when you have a player of Bunky’s caliber, he literally makes everybody else better,” Greene said. “Early on, we hit some shots and it wasn’t him, but that’s why it’s a team game.”
Brown got going in the second quarter and followed Eddy’s second 3 with consecutive layups to up the Patriots’ advantage to 27-13.
Capital (14-4) responded with an 11-4 run and pulled to within 31-24 on a Cavonte Duncan 3, but GW scored eight of the final 12 points of the half to hold a 39-28 lead at the break.
“Our on the ball defense was just not where it needed to be tonight obviously,” Capital coach Matt Greene said. “You let them in the paint so many times, they’re going to get some easy shots and you can’t give up that many easy shots.”
En route to making 31-of-54 field goal attempts for the game, GW connected on nearly 56 percent (15-of-27) of its tries over the first two quarters.
Brown scored the first four points of the second half and Mason Pinkett followed with GW’s sixth and final 3 of the game, upping the lead to 46-28 — the biggest it had been all night.
The Patriots got the lead up to 21 later in the third, before Tayon English produced five straight points for the Cougars, allowing them to cut the deficit to 59-44 at the end of the quarter.
The Cougars could never seriously threaten GW in the fourth. Capital got to within 64-51 on a Kerion Martin layup, but Brown answered with a conventional three-point play at the 4:47 mark.
Duncan’s three-point play with 3:34 remaining again cut the deficit to 13, but Brown answered with another bucket from close range.
“The 3 wasn’t falling tonight and they were just waiting to take charges because they knew I was going to drive and try to get to the rim,” Brown said. “I had to use a little touch or pull up.”
Brown also had five rebounds and four assists in the win, while Pinkett added 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Eddy followed with 10 points and Hughes scored nine in the win.
K.J. Figures made 7-of-10 shots and led Capital with 16 points, while Duncan added 10 in defeat. Martin and Ethan Kent scored eight apiece.
“We just have to execute better all the way around. Some of our bad habits get exposed against good teams like this,” Matt Greene said. “That’s what we’ve been preaching to our guys and we just have to keep working to get better.”
The win was the Patriots’ fourth straight since a loss to Logan.