Posted Friday, Dec. 30, 10:41 p.m. RALEIGH, N.C. – An early shot by senior forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu portended what was in store for the Colonials for the remainder of their Friday night game against North Carolina State at the RBC Center. The ball rattled around the rim, seemed to go in, but ultimately spun out into the hands of an awaiting NC State player.
Thirteen days after their last win, the No. 12 Colonials (8-1) easily shot a season-worst 29.5 percent from the floor en route to their first loss of the season, falling to the Wolfpack 79-58 Friday night in Raleigh, N.C.
After the teams traded buckets for the game’s first five minutes, NC State used a 10-0 run to distance themselves from the Colonials, who got no closer than six points for the rest of the contest.
Men’s head coach Karl Hobbs was disappointed with his team’s overall effort.
“I don’t know about (their) being outplayed,” he said. “I was disappointed in the mental mistakes we were making.”
While Hobbs struggled to cite many positives in his team’s performance, he singled out LSU transfer Regis Koundjia for his effort in his first contest since becoming eligible to play.
“I was very pleased with his first game,” Hobbs said. “He made his first three(-pointer) but I was more concerned about his effort sprinting back on defense.”
Koundjia ended with nine points, three rebounds and a steal in 19 minutes before fouling out. Junior guard Carl Elliott paced three Colonials in double figures with 14 points; he also had six rebounds and three assists. Senior forward Mike Hall finished with 11 points and six rebounds, while Danilo Pinnock ended up with 11 points on two-of-nine shooting from the field. Freshman Montrell McDonald did not travel with the team because he was sick with the flu.
The Wolfpack’s balanced attack saw five players register double-figure point totals. Cameron Bennerman led the Wolfpack with 17 points and six rebounds. NC State’s guard combo of Tony Bethel and Engin Atsur combined for 14 assists, with Bethel chipping in five points, six rebounds, and five assists and Atsure narrowly missing a double-double with 11 points and nine assists.
“They’ve got guys that make shots. They put five guys on the floor and five guys are capable of getting 20 points,” Hobbs said. “And that’s kind of what happened to us.”
NC State frustrated the Colonials into their worst offensive performance of the season. Wolfpack Coach Herb Sendeck felt that this was partly enabled by NC State’s ability to protect the ball against GW’s ever-changing defensive schemes.
“It really kind of started on the offensive end,” Sendeck said. “We thought that if we could stay under 12 turnovers that was really important and not feed their offensive but turning the basketball over by taking bad shots.”
The Colonials play their second game of a three-game road trip in Philadelphia against Temple on Jan. 4 in their first Atlantic 10 conference matchup. Hobbs sai his squad’s experience in A-10 play is critical to its overall team improvement.
“Our focus is (that) we just need to continue to get better – we got to continue to get better by beating teams in our league,” Hobbs said. “It’s a marathon, and we need to be a very good basketball team come late February and that’s what we’re trying to do.”