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Senior Carl Elliott has spent the last three seasons making big plays in big situations. Now, he has taken freshman Travis King under his wing. Considering Elliott's play in a 74-65 win over Saint Joseph's Wednesday night, that is not such a bad place to be.
King seems to be a quick study. Lying on his back, King made what head coach Karl Hobbs dubbed the play of the game. He forced a loose ball, dove to recover it and made a flawless pass to a streaking Elliott, who gave GW a 66-62 lead late in the game. From there, the Colonials pulled away for its 24th-consecutive home victory - the fourth longest streak in men's college basketball.
"(King) gives us a different speed and dimension," Hobbs said. "He takes the pressure off Maureece (Rice) and Carl. He frees them up for more scoring opportunities."
King, who might have had his best all-around game of the season, had recently been the subject of Hobbs' post-game criticism. The head coach said that the team needed to get more production out of the 6-foot-2 guard from New Haven, Conn. On Wednesday, King showed up.
But King's speed, the key element of his game, did not leave Elliott in the dust. Phil Martelli, Saint Joseph's head coach, said Elliott was a huge piece in the comeback.
"I don't know of a player who means more to their team," Martelli said of Elliott. "Even in (GW's) great teams the last two years, I thought he's been the lynchpin. I'm a really big fan of him. He's a terrific player, a hard match up, and he's been in big games and hit big shots."
Martelli said his team's 20 turnovers cost it the game.
"To be honest with you, it is a damn shame that we could not execute better than that," Martelli said. "No other number matters. It was strictly turnovers and the way they attack the basketball, which leads to lay-ups and high percentage shots. You can't guard breakouts."
Elliott's recent scoring slump did not seem to bother him en route to scoring 20 points. Junior Maureece Rice had 19 and seniors Regis Koundjia and Dokun Akingbade had seven points a piece.
Saint Joseph's got a game-high 21 points on 6-for-7 shooting from Rob Calathes. Rob Ferguson had 14 points and Ahmad Nivens had 12 points and nine rebounds.
Despite three players in double figures, Martelli was not satisfied.
"What you need is solid basketball; 20 turnovers is not solid basketball," Martelli added.
Down 20-6 in the first half, the Colonials came back by doing what they do best: forcing turnovers and scoring in bunches. The final scoring burst came in the last five minutes of the game, where GW outscored the Hawks 16-3.
The Colonials face Rhode Island Saturday at 2 p.m. in Kingston, R.I. Facing a three-game conference road swing, Hobbs called the game against the Rams, an up-tempo opponent, the key contest.
"They are very similar to us," Hobbs said.
They may be similar, but if Elliott and King continue their play, finding a pair of equivalents will be difficult.