Colonials barely handle Augusta State, 103-96

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The new banner that commemorates 2005’s Atlantic 10 championship and NCAA tournament appearance is meant to evoke memories of last year’s successful men’s basketball season. GW coach Karl Hobbs said the way his team played Saturday in what was supposed to be a warm-up against a Division II team, another banner is not in the team’s immediate future.

“I really don’t see who we will beat in our league,” Hobbs said. “Right now we are just trying to be an NIT team.”

On Saturday at the Smith Center, Division II team Augusta State proved to be more than just a tune-up for the No. 21/24 Colonials (AP/USA Today), as the Jaguars scored 53 first-half points on 57 percent shooting before eventually losing to GW 103-96. Randolph-Macon College, last year’s preseason opponent, only managed 45 points.

Augusta State’s 96 points is the most any team has scored against GW since last season’s 97-76 loss to Wake Forest in the preseason NIT.

Senior Pops Mensah-Bonsu left the game with just more than 10 minutes remaining in the first half with an apparent leg injury (see AKINGBADE, p. 16). Mensah-Bonsu did not return to the game and finished with 14 points and five rebounds in eight minutes. In the second half, he returned to the bench in uniform, but on crutches.

Without Mensah-Bonsu, the Colonials surrendered 14 offensive rebounds, but Hobbs cited all aspects of the team’s defense as weak spots.

“Well, I think the defense was not good all around,” Hobbs said. “Interior, outside. Our defense is really, really way behind. It’s no where near where it would need to be for us to be an NIT team.”

The Colonials’ offense was powered by five players in double digits. Junior Danilo (J.R.) Pinnock led GW with 22 points on 8 for 14 shooting in 26 minutes. Senior Mike Hall scored 17 points and pulled down five rebounds on 6 for 10 shooting while classmate Omar Williams had 15 points.

Junior Carl Elliott chipped in with nine rebounds, nine assists and five points in 26 minutes. GW turned the ball over nine times.

Augusta State’s Tyrekus Bowmn scored a game-high 25 points on 11 for 18 shooting to lead all scorers. Matt Scott connected on five three-pointers, two off the opponent Smith Center record of seven, en route to a 17-point performance. Demetrius Howard and Dean Brebner dropped 16 points a piece while Karim Telfer scored 14 and had 13 assists for the Jaguars.

The Colonials came on the court in the second half down one point. A 10-2 GW run that took the score to 63-55 showed the physicality that characterizes GW play.

The run would not scare the Jaguars, as they tied the game at 67 with 13:10 remaining in the contest. GW kept up their offensive pressure and did not let the game drop below five for the remainder of the contest.

The Jaguars took advantage of six first-half Colonial turnovers. Bowman dropped 18 points in the first half while Scott’s four three-pointers led him to 14 first-half points. The Jaguars led by as many as 15 points in the first half.

Colonials freshman Montrell McDonald scored 12 points on 50 percent shooting in 24 minutes. Earlier this season, Hobbs said McDonald is one of the team’s rawest freshmen and will be brought along slowly. Despite McDonald’s performance, Hobbs said he does not see the Texas native playing more than 25 minutes a game.

“I really thought that he gave a great effort,” Hobbs said of McDonald. “I thought he ran the floor well and I thought he made terrific decisions with the basketball. He did a great job just in terms of being where he was supposed to be defensively. I was really pleased with the way he played and hopefully he can continue to play that way and build on that.”

The Colonials open their regular season on Nov. 23 against Kennesaw State at the Smith Center.

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