WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sampson Carter scored 20 points as Massachusetts defeated George Washington 67-61 on Saturday.
The Minutemen (20-5, 7-4 Atlantic 10) handed the Colonials (19-6, 7-4) their first home loss of the season.
The game was always going to have hints of a grudge match -- it was the first time the Colonials and the Minutemen faced each other since Massachusetts knocked George Washington out of the A-10 tournament last season.
George Washington's poor shooting (11 of 28) proved to be an Achilles heel midway through the first half, as Massachusetts pulled ahead by 10 on Derrick Gordon's layup with 2:58 left.
When standout Minutemen guard Chaz Williams headed to the bench and rested down the stretch, the Colonials went to a full-court press to take advantage of his absence. The Colonials closed the half on a 7-0 run -- including a trey by Garino -- pulling within three at the break at 32-29.
The Minutemen took advantage of sloppy Colonial plays to open the second half with an 8-2 run that put them up by 11 after the first 2:45.
George Washington came back as Carter and Williams were forced to sit with four fouls apiece. John Kopriva drew a charge that knocked Maxie Esho out of the game with eight minutes left, pushing both Carter and Williams back into play. The Minutemen switched to a zone to protect the players in foul trouble.
George Washington caught Massachusetts and went up 56-55 on a Garino layup with 6:11 left, setting off rapid-fire back-and-forth action that lasted to the final buzzer.
Massachusetts' poor free throw shooting -- just 12 of 26 overall -- kept GW in the game. But the Minutemen converted 5 of 8 over the final minute of play to push a two point lead to six at the buzzer.
The Colonials missed all four of their shots in the game's final two minutes.
George Washington heads to Richmond Tuesday, while Massachusetts hosts Virginia Commonwealth on Feb. 21.