In a clear mismatch of talent and power, the GW men’s basketball team topped Mount Saint Mary’s College 81-58 Wednesday night at the Smith Center. GW’s inside game was a focal point, as the Colonials scored 44 points inside the paint.
Junior forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu led all scorers with 27 points, surpassing his previous career-high of 25. He was efficient as well, going 11-for-12 from the field and 5-for-7 from the free throw line.
“Pops is leading us in field goal attempts this season,” GW head coach Karl Hobbs said. “I think our perimeter guys realize he has to get touches and he’s doing a great job of finishing.”
Mensah-Bonsu said his teammates deserve much of the credit for getting him the ball inside.
“I really have to tip my hat to my teammates,” Mensah-Bonsu said. “Coach put emphasis on getting the ball inside today and they got me the ball in position and I scored. I feel like I can score every time I catch the ball.”
Mount St. Mary’s stayed within single digits of GW through most of the first half. But the Colonials’ offense proved to be too much for the Mountaineers as intermission approached. GW went on an 11-5 run to open a 38-27 lead with 3:46 left in the half, an advantage the Colonials extended to 42-30 at the break.
GW came out firing in the second, going on a 21-13 run to open a 63-43 lead with under 10 minutes left in the game. Mount St. Mary’s never recovered, eventually falling by 23.
The Colonials had 20 assists on 30 baskets and moved the ball well often. Junior guard J.R. Pinnock led the Colonials with five assists.
“I thought we did a good job of moving the ball,” Hobbs said. “I know last year we were first or second in the Atlantic 10 in assists and we need to continue to play that way. The guys are doing a good job of finding the open man and we are making shots.”
Facing his younger brother, Landy, senior T.J. Thompson notched 16 points on 4-for-5 shooting from three-point range. Landy, a guard for the Mountaineers, had 12 points.
“I try not to look at it as I’m playing against my brother,” Landy Thompson said after the game. “It’s really GW versus Mount Saint Mary’s. It is a lot more fun when he’s out there but I try not to concentrate on it.”
Junior Mike Hall made his first appearance since the Colonials’ Nov. 15 loss to Wake Forest University. Although his sprained medial collateral ligament has begun to heal, he is not yet back to full strength, Hobbs said.
“Mike is still a little bit away,” Hobbs said. “His conditioning is a little bit off. It’s hard to tell but he won’t play a whole lot because physically he can’t.”
On Saturday, the Colonials face No. 9 (Associated Press) Michigan State University in the first round of the 10th annual BB&T Classic at the MCI Center. The Spartans, who fell in a tight game to No. 10 Duke University on Tuesday, have beaten the Colonials in four of their last six meetings.
The other first round match-up will pit No. 12 Maryland against George Mason.
“We know we have a very difficult task coming up,” Hobbs said. “Without question (Michigan State is) probably a top ten team. They are very physical and strong at every position. Every year they are one of the leading rebounding teams in the country. So we are going to have to really tighten up on defense. We need to slow them down and play at our same pace.”