A sloppy effort by the GW men’s basketball team was still too much for Towson State University to handle. The No. 19 (Associated Press) Colonials missed several dunks and lay-ups but still cruised to an 85-69 victory over the Tigers Saturday at the Smith Center.
Junior Pops Mensah-Bonsu led the way for GW, scoring 15 points (5-for-14 from the field) to go along with 13 rebounds. The Colonials (7-1) used a balanced attack to overpower the Tigers (3-7) down the stretch.
Sophomore Carl Elliott had 11 points, six steals and seven assists in one of his most complete games of the season and classmate Ricky Lucas had a season-high 14 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Coach Karl Hobbs went deep into his roster, utilizing 11 players for the first time this season.
“I really wanted to get guys the opportunity to play a little bit,” he said. “We have so many guys and we have guys working so hard and they really deserve minutes. I wanted to make sure I got Maureece (Rice) in there and LaFonte (Johnson). Dokun (Akingbade) did a nice job when he got in there. In this type of game, you want to get as many people in the game.”
The Colonials started the game strong, building a 31-10 lead with 8:14 left in the first half. The Tigers, however, responded with a 21-7 run that cut the GW lead to 38-31 with just over a minute to go before halftime. At the intermission, the Colonials re-extended their lead to 40-31.
In the second, Towson cut the lead to eight points, but that’s as close as it would get. The Colonials went on a 15-2 run from 11:25 to 7:18 that gave the Colonials a 70-53 lead to effectively seal it. Junior Omar Williams added 10 of his 12 points after intermission and chipped in five rebounds.
Coach Hobbs was content with the team’s play but said he was a bit frustrated that the Tigers were able to keep the game in reach.
“Overall, I was pleased with how we played,” Hobbs said. “We missed too many lay-ups. That’s what kept them in the game. They stayed within their offense. They never played like they were out of the game.”
The Colonials’ next two match-ups are on the road against Florida International University (Dec. 23) and West Virginia University (Dec. 29). Hobbs said his team must learn to “grind” it out on the road for the wins.
“I think we have to tighten our defense,” Hobbs said. “We have to become physically and mentally tougher. We need a tremendous amount of poise going into those two games on the road. We can’t let the emotion of the game get away from us.”
Despite the Colonials’ ranking, he said the next two games will be tough tests for his team.
“Good teams are able to concentrate and focus when they go on the road,” Hobbs said. “That’s what they are after. That’s the real challenge for this team. Can we go on the road and maintain the level of concentration and focus? If we can do that, we have the opportunity to have a special year.”