Colonials forward holds sway inside vs. Jaspers

As a freshman at Villanova, Montrose Christian grad Isaiah Armwood came home for the 2009 BB&T Classic, a bit player on the nation's third-ranked team. Three years later at George Washington, Armwood fills a vastly different role.

When the 6-foot-9 forward returned to Verizon Center on Sunday, he was the best player on the floor. Scoring 23 points, pulling down nine rebounds and blocking six shots, Armwood propelled GW past Manhattan 67-55 in the BB&T Classic.

On a day when the Jaspers rattled the Colonials with fullcourt pressure and GW appeared distracted on an NBA floor, Armwood was a veteran presence, steadying a young team that starts three freshmen. Armwood hit eight of 12 shots and all seven of his free throws.

"I wanted a different role," Armwood said. "At Villanova it was a lot different. I had a role, but it was a lot slower. They focus on the guards there."

At the other end of the floor Sunday, 6-6 freshman Patricio Garino (10 points) led a defense that forced 15 turnovers and harassed Manhattan into 33.9 percent shooting. Garino, already established as the Colonials' defensive stopper, limited 6-4 George Beamon, the top returning scorer in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, to nine points on 3-for-13 shooting. He also had a momentum-reversing midcourt steal and breakaway basket in the second half after Manhattan had pulled within two points.

"I thought the real key to the game was Patricio guarding George Beamon," GW coach Mike Lonergan said. "He gets in those passing lanes. He's deceptively athletic."

Manhattan (2-4), which won 21 games last year en route to the CIT tournament, swarmed GW freshman point guard Joe McDonald (no points, four fouls, six turnovers) early and rolled to a seven-point lead. But in the final 3:20 of the first half, Armwood boosted GW (4-3) with his power, blocking three shots and hitting a layup, a dunk and a three-point-play.

In the second half, junior Lasan Kromah scored 16 of his 18 points to steady the Colonials' offense, and Armwood continued to rule inside, leading GW to a 26-12 edge on the boards after intermission.

"Isaiah really controlled the game," Lonergan said.