Men dominate Pikiell’s Seawolves

Senior Pops Mensah-Bonsu gave Steve Pikiell a bear-hug hello. Classmate Mike Hall slapped the Stony Brook head coach’s hand and patted him on the back. The coach, who spent four years as a member of GW coach Karl Hobbs’ staff, got all the love he was going to get before the first tap, because after the ball went up, the Stony Brook Seawolves went down.

The scoreboard seemed to be ablaze for GW, a scene that Pikiell derived glee from during his time as an associate head coach in Foggy Bottom; but his emotions turned Monday. The 88-60 GW win was hardly a challenge, with the No. 16/18 (AP/USA Today) Colonials connecting on 27-of-58 field goals in their last out-of-conference matchup of the season Monday night in front of 3,234 fans at the Smith Center.

Pikiell said despite the crippling loss, being back in Foggy Bottom was a nice feeling.

“First of all, it’s great to be back here in D.C. and all the good people here at George Washington,” Pikiell said. “As you could tell it was a difficult game.”

Hobbs, usually mentally ready on game day, said his pre-game ritual Monday night was somewhat different.

“I was very nervous before the game,” Hobbs said. “Usually I get upstairs a little early. Today, I had to spend a little time in the men’s room. I was really nervous for the fact that he’s recruited the majority of all these guys. He knows their tendencies as players and he knows my tendencies as a coach. I knew he was going to have some tricks. I was worried about what he was going to do.”

Hobbs’ nerves proved to be unfounded, but Pikiell’s characterization of the game was right on the money. Difficult appears to be an understatement for the way the contest played out. GW lit up the floor with increased offensive productivity, connecting on 12 three-pointers, three short of the team’s all-time record. Displaying their newfound ability to move the ball effectively in the half court, GW (13-1, 3-0 Atlantic 10) dished out 22 assists on 27 made field goals en route to shooting 46.6 percent from the field. At times, the far less-experienced Seawolves (3-12) appeared to be disoriented against what many consider to be one of the nation’s top teams.

Stony Brook has already played No. 3 Villanova and No. 4 Connecticut and has Boston College in the mix on Feb. 13. The Seawolves have the 16th strongest schedule in the country and already defeated Vermont, which beat Syracuse in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

One thing Hobbs said he saw in watching game footage of Stony Brook against top-level teams was their conviction and intensity. He said he was worried that the team may outplay GW, but talent triumphed in the end.

Despite being battle tested, the Seawolves were clearly outmatched.

GW’s swarming defense disoriented the Seawolves’ offense and led to a dearth of production for Stony Brook, as they were only able to give out four assists, the least by a GW opponent this year. Pikiell’s squad was held scoreless for the first 4:26 of the first half, on a 13-0 run, and the first 4:02 of the second.

On top of the dominating win, milestones were met for the Colonials. Senior Omar Williams dropped 13 points, reaching 810 for his GW career. Williams is three steals away from reaching 80 for his collegiate career. Senior Mike Hall, who was honored before the game for reaching 37th on the all-time scoring list, reached 33rd by scoring 12 points, bringing his point total to 1,062. Hall also grabbed five rebounds and reached 800 in his GW lifetime.

Junior Danilo (J.R.) Pinnock reached 903 career points with his 11 points Monday night. Senior Pops Mensah-Bonsu only played 17 minutes but scored eight points and moved to 26th on the all-time scoring list.

Stony Brook appeared to have trouble solving the crowded passing lanes that GW created. Mitchell Beauford, who became eligible seven games ago due to academic inteIigibility, had 19 points and intelligibility, had 19 points and five turnovers. Mike Popko had 12 points and five rebounds.

At the end of GW’s out-of-conference schedule, Hall sees the first part of the season as a notch on the long “to-do” list this year.

“I guess we had a long list of accomplishments and I guess that’s phase one complete,” Hall said. “One mistake and one mess up at N.C. State and it’s been a success. It looks good, its fun out there.”

GW cannot rest on its laurels for long. On Saturday the team travels to Charlotte, N.C., to face A-10 newcomer Charlotte at 4 p.m. in a highly anticipated matchup that showcases two of the conference’s finest.

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