PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 14- Something was different when the GW men's basketball team tipped off its 62-56 loss to Saint Joseph's Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
For the first time since 2003, and for only the second time in his four-year career, senior guard Carl Elliott did not start the game. The captain had violated an unspecified team rule, coach Karl Hobbs said, and would have to sit out the beginning of the game as a result.
For a team in the midst of a three-game losing streak, sitting the team's most experienced and poised player was a drastic move. Travis King, a freshman, took his spot in the lineup, but did not fare well, as a disjointed-looking Colonials team fell behind 8-0 early. With about 15 minutes left in the first half, Elliott entered the game, scored a three-point play on his first possession and propelled GW to a lead.
But GW (15-8, 6-5 Atlantic 10) could not pull away or get rebounds down the stretch, allowing the Hawks (15-10, 7-4 A-10) to stick with, then pull away from, the Colonials, giving the team its first four-game losing streak since the 2003-2004 season.
"(Saint Joseph's was) just too physical," Hobbs said. "It became a battle of wills on the backboards. We made great stops and just could not come up with the rebounds ... I think that was the difference in the game."
"This has always been my fear throughout the season," Hobbs said about his team's rebounding.
Hobbs said that sophomore Rob Diggs and senior Dokun Akingbade sometimes get muscled around by bigger players in the post and that there is not much that can be done at this point in the season. Saint Joseph's out-rebounded GW 35-27 for the game.
Elliott shot just two for eight after his first basket, scoring nine points total. Junior Maureece Rice, who holds the Philadelphia high school scoring record, scored 14 points in his homecoming and led a mini-run at the end of the game that fell short when he missed a shot that would have brought GW within one point with a minute to go.
Saint Joseph's Ahmad Nivins, a 235-pound sophomore, had eight rebounds and bothered GW's frontcourt. Nivins also had an emphatic dunk, punctuated by a scream, which put the Hawks up 58-52 with less than four minutes left.
The Damian Hollis, a 6-foot-8 freshman who could play down low, hit four of five shots, all three-pointers, and added four rebounds. Hobbs said he thought Hollis played well, but still needs to improve defensively.
Saturday, GW faces Temple at Smith Center for the first time this season. In its first year under head coach Fran Dunphy, the Owls are 11-13 and 5-6 in the Atlantic 10. Temple leads the all-time series against GW 46-15. The Owls were the only A-10 team to defeat the Colonials last season, when they knocked GW out of the A-10 Tournament in Cincinnati after a 68-53 shocker.