This George Washington team might be different from others — perhaps even different from GW teams of the past.
When’s the last time you saw a team firing up 3-pointers while protecting a modest fourth-quarter lead? That’s what the Patriots did Saturday afternoon, shooting their way past city rival Capital 76-69 at GW High School.
Mason Pinkett scored 21 points and Evan Hughes 15 to pace the Patriots (6-3), who never trailed but saw their lead dwindle to three points in the closing stages. That’s when they knocked down three of their nine 3s to fend off the Cougars (2-5).
After GW saw its advantage shaved from 11 points to 58-55 on a lightning-quick run by Capital, the Patriots didn’t hesitate to launch the long ball.
Hughes got a corner 3 off a nice feed from Pinkett to make it 61-55 just inside the four-minute mark. A couple of minutes later, Gus Eddy nailed a long shot and it was 67-57. Then perhaps the most telling shot: After Capital clawed its way within 67-62, Hughes sank another corner 3 with just 56 seconds remaining. That pretty much ended the suspense.
“We’re maybe a little bit different than some, I don’t know because I’m coaching my guys,’’ said GW coach Rick Greene. “But I just think that when you’re playing a team as good as Capital with that press that forces you to do things and you start holding the ball too early, then you quit playing and you’re hesitant with your passes.
“So we’ll shoot it late in the game — if it’s a good shot and with the right people shooting. I didn’t [complain]. I just think you can quit playing too early, and then you’re back on your heels and they get a couple steals or you miss a couple free throws and all of a sudden, you’re trying to get your kids playing again. So we probably stay aggressive maybe longer than some other people do.’’
GW hoisted five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and made four. Combined with accurate foul shooting (19 of 23 for the game), it was enough to stave off Capital.
The Cougars, who began the season without 10 of their top 11 scorers from last season, fell behind 16-6 at the outset and had to play catch-up the rest of the way. Maybe their best chance came with just over a minute left when Daimarquis Brooks swished a 3 to make it 67-62 and Capital’s tenacious defense forced a turnover seconds later. Brooks got another great look at a 3 but it rimmed out, setting the stage for Hughes’ late 3.
The Patriots handled Capital’s pressure fairly well even with Eddy, one of the team’s top ball-handlers, sitting on the bench for 10 minutes in the first half with two fouls. He picked up his third personal 18 seconds into the second half.
“He’s our glue guy,’’ Greene said of Eddy, “because he’s the one who can rotate and run the point a little bit and get Mason off the point. I thought Mason did a great job of just gutting it out, playing a ton of minutes that he normally gets in rotation. I thought we did a good job, and our big guys can handle the ball, too.’’
Alex Yoakum added 10 points and seven rebounds for GW. Hughes also grabbed seven boards.
For Capital, Karrington Hill hit 6 of 10 from 3-point range and scored 20 points to go along with seven rebounds. He was backed by Brooks (17 points, nine rebounds), Kerion Martin (13 points, six rebounds) and De’Mahjae Clark (10 points). Martin was playing in just his second game after rehabbing a shoulder injury from football season.
“I don’t want to keep sounding redundant,’’ said Cougars coach Matt Greene, “but we’re just inconsistent right now, and you absolutely cannot be inconsistent against good teams. But you can see the spurts when we put things together. ... We’re just having to work really hard to get what we’re getting right now. But we’re seeing improvement and the guys are all staying together.’’