Duquesne came into the Smith Center Saturday afternoon on a hot streak, having won three in a row, to face a GW men’s basketball team that had not lost at home. The game was expectedly close in the first half but didn’t end that way, as the Colonials used a 12-0 run midway through the second half to coast to a 83-63 win.
“College basketball is a game of runs,” Duquesne head coach Danny Nee said. “When they went on that 12-point run, we couldn’t answer it.”
An enthusiastic crowd of 3,107 watched GW (10-7, 4-2 Atlantic 10) improve to a perfect 7-0 at the Smith Center to take sole possession of second place in the A-10 West.
GW Head Coach Karl Hobbs said fan support, especially from the student section, has given the team an advantage this year.
“Now, I’ve been at Connecticut and if it’s halftime and the team is losing, the fans may start leaving,” he said. “The students here have been great. They’re growing with this team. The home court has been phenomenal.”
The Colonials also took better care of the ball than usual, surrendering a season-low nine turnovers, more than eight less than their season average of 17.2 per game. The Colonials held the Dukes (8-9, 3-3 A-10) to less than 39 percent shooting and forced 16 turnovers, which led to 27 GW points.
Led by junior T.J. Thompson’s 20 points, GW shot 50 percent for the game, relying heavily on high percentage shots in transition. The Colonials also outscored the Dukes 40-28 in the paint.
“We really wanted to make sure we didn’t play at (Duquesne’s) speed and tempo,” Hobbs said. “If you play at their speed they’re very, very good.”
The Colonials’ aggressive style carried over to the foul line, where they converted 17 of 21 attempts. That number dwarfed GW’s 3-for-9 effort from the charity stripe last Wednesday in a loss to Dayton.
Sophomore forward Mike Hall tied a career high with 19 points while grabbing 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Classmate Pops Mensah-Bonsu, a crowd favorite during his first two years at GW, scored 11 while showcasing his usual array of dunks, including a late-game alley-oop in which he leapt over Duquesne’s Kieron Achara and landed on the 6-foot-9-inch forward’s neck. Forward Omar Williams also made a strong contribution offensively, scoring 11 points.
The two teams played a seesaw first half, as neither group could pull away from the other. With five minutes left in the half and the score tied at 33, the Colonials went on a 9-0 run to build a 42-33 lead, eventually going into the break up 42-37.
The Dukes shot a respectable 48 percent in the first half, a number that decreased sharply to just over 31 percent in the second. Trailing by five at intermission, the Dukes opened the second half on a 6-0 run to pull ahead 43-42. It was the last time GW would trail.
Down one point, the Colonials went on a 14-9 run to open a 56-52 lead with 11:47 left in the game. That was followed by their 12-0 run to break the game open.