Anderson scores 18 as No. 9 Virginia halts George Washington
Virginia may have a little bit too hyped up for its first real test of the season against George Washington on Friday night.
Once the No. 9 Cavaliers did what coach Tony Bennett told them to do, they dispatched the Colonials with ease.
Justin Anderson scored 18 points, Malcolm Brogdon had 15, and the Cavaliers put the defensive clamps on George Washington in the second half on the way to a 59-42 victory, the fourth in eight days for Anderson and his teammates.
Early on, the Cavaliers looked out of sorts, and Bennett said Anderson and Brogdon were primarily to blame.
"We weren't letting the offense come to us," Anderson said. "We were kind of being a little bit overly aggressive. ... We have to be aggressive, but at the same time, we have to be smart."
The Cavaliers (4-0) always can count on their defense, and while the Colonials were disappointed to get only 26 points in the first half, they still led 26-22. In the second half, Virginia held them to just three field goals in the first 17 minutes.
Anderson said the team knew it was just a matter of time before the game turned in their favor.
"We always knew we were going to be fine because we trust our defense and we trust everything that coach prepares us for," he said. "We knew what we had to do."
The Colonials (2-1) arrived at John Paul Jones Arena getting an average of 53 points from their big four of Patricio Garino, Kethan Savage, Joe McDonald and Kevin Larsen. Savage led George Washington with 13 points, but the foursome finished with a combined 27 points on just 11-for-30 shooting. The Colonials barely reached half of their 81-point scoring average.
"I think our lack of scoring really affected some of our players' offense and got to us mentally," Colonials coach Mike Lonergan said. "Then we tried to do too much and we didn't rebound and we didn't defend well."
The defense-minded Cavaliers have not allowed more than 55 points in a game this season.
The Cavaliers trailed 24-17 before using a 19-4 run spanning halftime to open a 36-28 lead. They got the last 14 points in the second half with Brogdon scoring six and Anderson getting four.
After the Colonials scored six points in a row to get within 36-34, Brogdon hit a fadeaway from the left elbow and the left-handed Anderson skied in front of Larsen to slam home a missed 3-pointer by Evan Nolte with his right hand.
That riled up the crowd, and after a free throw by McDonald for George Washington, Darion Atkins scored three consecutive baskets for Virginia, including one on the fifth try after four misses from in close.
The Colonials, meanwhile, kept trying to go inside, to no avail. The Cavaliers had nine blocked shots and outrebounded George Washington 41-28. They allowed 24 points inside while scoring 42.
George Washington seemed to have the upper hand most of the first half, but it took a 9-4 run late in the period to give the Colonials a 24-17 lead. The Cavaliers then scored the next five points.
The Colonials led 26-22 at halftime despite getting just 10 points total from Garino (15.5 ppg), Savage (15 ppg) and Larsen (11 ppg), who came into the game averaging 41.5 points between them.
George Washington: George Washington finished 5 for 25 from the field in the second half.
Virginia: The Cavaliers were averaging seven made 3-pointers coming in, but made just one.
CARRY ON, DARION
Darion Atkins started for the second game in a row for Virginia and had eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. In one sequence, he missed from in front of the basket, had two tip-in tries miss, then rebounded a tip attempt by teammate Mike Tobey before scoring. He pumped his fist as if to say, `Finally' before retreating down court to play defense.
George Washington is at home against Longwood on Wednesday night.
Virginia plays host to Tennessee State on Tuesday night.