After losing to undefeated West Virginia University on Dec. 29, the GW men’s basketball team opened Atlantic 10 play on a high note. The No. 24 (Associated Press) Colonials improved to 5-0 at home with a 71-42 win over La Salle Wednesday night at in front of 2,836 fans at the Smith Center.
Senior T.J. Thompson led GW (9-2, 1-0 A-10) with 16 points while junior Mike Hall scored nine points and a career-high 17 rebounds in his first start since the season opener against Wake Forest. Junior Pops Mensah- Bonsu registered a double-double, with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
The Explorers (3-8, 0-1 A-10) were led by Steve Smith’s game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. The Explorers got double digit scoring from Smith and Jermaine Thomas, who scored 12 points.
GW defense forced the Explorers to shoot 26.8 percent from the field and a dismal 25.9 percent from beyond the three-point arc. The Colonials also out-rebounded LaSalle 60-26, including 26 offensive boards which led to 18 second chance GW points.
The game’s outcome was never really in question throughout. The Colonials built a 41-21 halftime lead and cruised, never allowing their advantage to dip below 20 points the rest of the way.
GW played the game without the help of sophomore J.R. Pinnock, the team’s third leading scorer. According to an AP report, Pinnock was suspended for violating an unspecified team rule – coach Karl Hobbs said he has not yet decided how long Pinnock would be suspended.
The Colonials will open their A-10 road schedule at Duquesne Saturday at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 29
West Virginia 71, GW 65
The GW men’s basketball team could not quite pass the season’s first true road test Dec. 29. West Virginia University beat the Colonials 71-65 in front of 13,956 fans at the WVU Coliseum, traditionally one of the toughest places to play in the nation.
No team had held No. 20 (Associated Press) GW to less than 70 points all season. The Mountaineers played stifling defense all night, holding one of the top offenses in the nation to 38.7 percent shooting.
The loss also snapped GW’s eight game winning streak and could knock the 8-2 Colonials down a few notches in the rankings and possibly help the Mountaineers crack the Top 25. At 9-0, the Mountaineers are off to their best start in 44 years.
The Colonials were able to hang with the Mountaineers for much of the contest, but could not complete a second half comeback. GW trailed 32-26 at the break and fell into a 50-36 hole with 15:22 left in the game before chipping away at the lead, eventually cutting it to 62-61 with 3:08 left.
However, the Mountaineers ended the game with a 9-4 run to pull away.
Senior T.J. Thompson and sophomore J.R. Pinnock led GW with 14 points each, but could not match West Virginia’s Mike Gansey, who scored 19 points. WVU Center D’or Fischer also scored 15 points, including several key free throws down the stretch. He finished the night 9-for-10 from the line.
-Alan Siegel contributed to this report.