Feb 13, 2016; St. Bonaventure, NY, USA; George Washington Colonials forward Kevin Larsen (21) reacts to a made three-point basket against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies during the first half at the Reilly Center. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

NIT Preview: George Washington to Host Gators in Quaterfinals

The George Washington University Colonials men’s basketball team will host the Florida Gators in the quarterfinals of the NIT Wednesday night.

The Colonials (25-10) cruised to an 87-71 win against Monmouth on Monday night.  They will now advance to the quarterfinals to face the Gators (21-14) in Washington, D.C..  The winner of the quarterfinal match up will head to New York City for the semifinals, where they will take the court at Madison Square Garden.

George Washington’s strong offense has been crucial for the team’s success this season.  The team averages almost 76 point per game and makes just over 75 percent of their free throws, which ranks 17th in the league.  The upperclassmen leadership also plays a major role in the team’s success.

“It’s such a benefit to have that senior leadership to [the point] when the guys step on the court, they know it’s business,” Matt Lisiewski, George Washington Director of Basketball Operations, said.

The Colonials boast three with All-A10 C0nference Honors.  The Gators’ biggest threat is probably  Patricio Garino, the 6’6″ senior.  He earned three All-Conference Honors: Second Team, All-Academic Team, and All-Defensive Team.  Georgia Washington considers the versatile guard/forward one of the best defensive players in school history.  This is his third selection to the All-Defensive team.  The Argentine averages just over 14 points per game, leading the A10 with .451 mark from three-point range.  Garino also leads the team in steals (43) field goal percentage (.503).

 Feb 27, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; George Washington Colonials guard Patricio Garino (13) prepares to shoot the ball past Virginia Commonwealth Rams forward Mo Alie-Cox (12) during the first half at Charles E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 27, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; George Washington Colonials guard Patricio Garino (13) prepares to shoot the ball past Virginia Commonwealth Rams forward Mo Alie-Cox (12) during the first half at Charles E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Cavanaugh, a RS Junior, earned All-Academic and Second Team honors.  The 6’9″ forward will be a challenge to defend in the paint for the Gators.  Cavanaugh has scores in double digits in all 31 games this season.  He averages 16.6 points per game, a team high, along with 7.5 rebounds per game.  If that’s not impressive enough, the Syracuse, NY native also has 8 double-doubles on the season.

Alex Mitola, who graduated from Dartmouth in three years, came to GW for his final year of eligibility and is working on his masters.  His 3.8 grade point average is probably his most impressive quality.  The 5’11” Guard averages 6.2 points per game for the Colonials squad, while leading the team in free throws.

Lisiewski describes head coach Mike Lonergan as a “coaches’ coach” and “very detail oriented”.  This is Lonergran’s 5th season with the Colonials, and his 3rd consecutive season with more than 20 wins.

The school’s biggest win this season was the unlikely 73-68 win against then-no.6 ranked Virginia in November.  Garino and Cavanaugh combined for an impressive 36-points against the Cavs.  The Colonials are looking to bring that same fire to the court Wednesday night against the Gators.

This is the first time George Washington will play Florida since the 1995-96 season.  The Colonials trail the Gators 1-2 in the all-time series, with their last win coming against the Orange and Blue during the 1939-40 season.

Coverage: You can find the game on ESPN 2 at 7 p.m.

About Amanda Ploener

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