One of the more encouraging aspects of George Washington’s 94-89 double-overtime loss to Rhode Island on Sunday was the contributions of the Colonials’ reserves. GW’s bench outscored the Rams’ reserves, 44-24.
Senior guard Noel Wilmore was the most productive player off the bench for GW, scoring a season-high 20 points. But it was the play of junior guard Johnny Lee, a non-scholarship player, and freshman guard Aaron Ware that provided an unexpected boost for the Colonials.
“Aaron, he’s really grown up before our eyes,” GW Coach Karl Hobbs said. “As a freshman, he made some key baskets. And Johnny Lee . . . he did a magnificent job of getting us easy baskets, making sure that we got the shot that we needed. These two guys most certainly kept us in the game . . . I think it speaks volumes to how far we’ve come.”
For most of the season, GW has relied on Rob Diggs or Damian Hollis to carry the offense. More recently, Wynton Witherspoon has provided a scoring punch. Now, at long last, other players have begun to assert themselves.
Lee, playing a career-high 38 minutes, scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting. He was the team’s leading rebounder (seven rebounds), had five assists and made two steals. After Diggs fouled out of the game, Lee sank a three-pointer that put GW ahead, 63-61. He had a shot to win the game at the end of the first overtime, but missed.
“It’s really a rush to finally get to contribute in a game like that,” he said. “It’s still a letdown to not be able to finish. . . . When it comes down to it, you want the ball [at the end of the game]. That’s what you want as a basketball player, to help your team win a game. . . . If the ball’s in my hands, I’ve got to make a play. That’s what I tried to do.”
Ware has appeared in every game this season, averaging 3.8 points and 1.8 rebounds. He had his best game of the season at Saint Louis, scoring 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting. Against Rhode Island, he had 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
“It’s easy for me to be out there because so many guys are keying on Noel and Damian and Rob,” Ware said. “So it’s easy for met to get my looks at the basket or play off the guys.”
January 26, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
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