Win over Virginia the latest in a string of victories, accolades.
By James Irwin
The wins keep coming.
The George Washington University men’s basketball team defeated sixth-ranked Virginia, 73-68, Monday night at the Charles Smith Center—the biggest upset win for the Colonials in 20 years and the latest in a string of success for GW sports.
Coming off consecutive 20-win seasons, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have high aspirations, boosted by experienced rosters and a combined 58-7 record at the Smith Center since the beginning of the 2013-14 season. Paced by seniors Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald, the men have won 48 games over that span, playing in one of the deepest conferences in Division I.
The win over Virginia—the biggest upset since they defeated No. I Massachusetts in 1995 and 1996—is GW’s third over a nationally ranked team in consecutive years. The Colonials upset 11th-ranked Wichita State last Christmas to win the 2014 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. In November 2013, the Colonials defeated 19th-ranked Creighton.
“Last night the best of GW athletics was on display in prime time in front of a national television audience, and our whole campus community responded,” Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero said. “Not only did our men's basketball team win a thrilling, epic game, but we were able to show a world of college basketball fans how special this university is.”
The GW women’s basketball team has been just as good as the men. The Colonials, coming off a season in which they won a program-record 29 games, are ranked No. 22 in this week’s Associated Press Top-25 Poll. Senior Jonquel Jones, the reigning conference player and defensive player of the year, headlines the Atlantic 10’s best frontcourt. The Colonials are a preseason favorite to repeat as conference champions. The team plays American University 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Smith Center.
Success, however, has not been limited to the basketball teams. It has been a big fall semester for GW athletics, including soccer, sailing and squash, Mr. Nero said.
“We celebrated three other team's championships last night,” he said. “We had the opportunity to tell our stories of academic success and outstanding community service, and put on display everything that this university stands for.”
Both the men’s and women’s soccer teams won A-10 regular season titles in dramatic fashion this fall. The men captured their first conference regular season championship since 2011 on a penalty kick in double-overtime on the last day of the regular season. The women won a record-tying 15 games in 2015, finishing a perfect 10-0 in conference play for the first time in school history. The soccer teams received a combined 17 postseason awards from the A-10 and swept coach of the year honors.
GW sailing recently completed the most successful fall season in program history, one in which it won its first conference championship and beat Georgetown for the first time. Three Colonials—freshmen Sarah Alexander and Riley Legault and senior Brendan Shanahan—placed in the top 20 at the ICSA Singlehanded National Championship earlier this month.
The men’s and women’s squash teams have gotten off to strong starts. The teams are a combined 8-0—including wins over Georgetown to open their respective seasons—entering a Nov. 21 home match against Penn. Both teams are ranked, with the women at No. 8 and the men at No. 13 nationally.
Spotlight on the Smith Center
In addition to a run of success for its teams, GW also will enjoy extra attention this week when the Smith Center serves as the host venue for the A-10 Volleyball Championships, which begin Friday with quarterfinal matches.
Fourth-ranked GW, which enters with an overall record of 20-10, faces Virginia Commonwealth at 5 p.m., with the winner advancing to Saturday’s semifinal against top-seeded Dayton. The Colonials, led by junior Chidima Osuchukwu—a 2014 American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America Honorable Mention—and seniors Maddy Doyle and Jordan Timmer, are 9-4 at home this season and 35-15 at the Smith Center the past four years.