NASSAU, Bahamas (WFIE) - Senior K.J. Riley set his career mark with 28 points, but two George Washington players reached the 20-point mark to lead the Colonials to a 78-70 victory over the University of Evansville men’s basketball team on Saturday afternoon at the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase.
Evansville (3-3) held an early 5-2 lead, but a late first-half run by the Colonials (2-4) saw them take a 15-point halftime lead before finishing with the 8-point victory.
“The slow starts have been really tough to overcome. We need to take advantage of our scouting reports and start to come together,” UE head coach Walter McCarty said. “We played much better in the second half and gave ourselves a chance to win, but the deficit from the first half was hard to overcome. We have to be better moving forward.”
Evansville enjoyed a much better start to Saturday’s contest, jumping out to a 5-2 advantage. Jawaun Newton got the Aces on the board as he drove a layup into the basket before K.J. Riley hit his first and-one to make it a 5-2 game. George Washington would fight back to tie it up at 7-7 before taking a 9-7 edge.
Riley’s second old fashioned 3-point play put the Aces back in front at 10-9, but a hot start for the Colonials continued as they hit five of their first six shots on their way to a 12-10 lead. Shamar Givance connected on a pair of free throws that tied it at 16-16 with 12:50 remaining.
The final part of the half belonged to George Washington. They embarked on a 27-12 run to open up a 43-28 advantage in the final minute. They would hold the 15-point advantage at the half, up 45-30. Making his first start, Artur Labinowicz scored eight to lead UE in the half. Maceo Jack had 14 for GW.
Out of the locker room, the Aces performed much better, scoring the first eight points of the half. After Labinowicz hit a free throw, Newton connected on his second basket of the game. Labinowicz drained a triple that forced a George Washington time out before Riley finished the run up with two more free throws that made it a 45-38 game two minutes into the second period.
George Washington was able to regain its double figure lead and held that advantage until about five minutes were remaining. K.J. Riley drained a pair of free throws that cut the deficit to 70-64 with 4:13 on the clock. After the Colonials pushed it back out to seven, Evansville rallied once again. A dunk by Labinowicz cut the gap to five at the 2:32 mark.
After forcing two offensive fouls, the Aces got within a possession when Jawaun Newton hit a shot with 1:23 remaining to make it a 73-70 game. The Aces forced a GW turnover and had a chance to get even closer, but a missed shot turned into a Colonial triple on the other end. From there, they would pull away by the final of 78-70.
Labinowicz finished the game with 19 points and a team best 8 rebounds. Riley had another great effort from the line, going 14-of-16. Armel Potter led George Washington with 25 points while Maceo Jack added 22. The Colonials outshot the Aces by a 51%-40% tally, but the Aces performed much better on the boards, taking that edge by a 32-31 tally.
Evansville wraps up the tournament on Sunday with a 10 a.m. CT game against Morgan State.