WEB UPDATE: Men down the Seahawks 88-85 in overtime

Posted Thursday, March 16, 9:42 p.m.

Updated Friday, March 17, 12:22 a.m.

GREENSBORO, N.C. – When the GW men’s basketball team was down 18 points with 11:11 left in the game, it looked to most in the Greensboro Coliseum that the eighth-seeded Colonials would head back to Foggy Bottom with their second first-round loss in as many years.

But to the nine players on the bench, the squad seemed to have the University of North Carolina-Wilmington exactly where they wanted them.

A 28-10 run over about four minutes coupled with two clutch Carl Elliott free throws brought the Colonials and the Seahawks to overtime, where Elliott got two more free throws to give GW the scrappy win.

The victory is GW’s first in the NCAA Tournament since 1994 and will give the Colonials a second-round matchup Saturday afternoon with Duke.

Despite countless close games throughout what many have dubbed a “magical season,” men’s head coach Karl Hobbs never had a doubt about his team’s success under pressure.

“It’s been the combination of our pressure and if (the) guys believe (they can win) at some point during the game, we’re going to get you,” Hobbs said after the win. “We have dreams, and we’re just trying to fulfill our dreams.”

Elliott wore the “clutch” name tag yet again, as he connected on three of five three-pointers and four of seven free throws for his 15-point total.

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Elliott said missing free throws in games is simply not an option.

“I’m never nervous,” Elliott said. “I’m ‘Big Shot Elliott,’ in case you guys didn’t know.”

In a more serious tone, Elliott described what prepares GW for the big-time shots.

“I mean we just got to stay focused. Coach Hobbs gets on us in practice; he’s always emphasizing making free throws,” Elliott said standing in the locker room. “If you miss free throws, you have to do push-ups. Guys don’t really like doing push-ups, so guys focus at the lines to make free throws, and that’s what I do.”

Senior Mike Hall said that Elliott is known on the squad for his clutch performances.

“Any time he has the ball in his hands I’m confident,” Hall said of Elliott. “(The widespread scoring) shows the depth of our team and that anybody can make the big shot, more often than not its Carl, and I’m glad he’s on my team.”

Despite Hobbs’ animated courtside antics, Elliott said his coach is calm in situations similar to Thursday.

“Surprisingly he’s very calm – surprisingly he’s very, very calm,” Elliott said. He explained that Hobbs works hard to keep the squad motivated for every game.

Motivation came naturally, however, as the Colonials were staring at the opportunity to face No. 1 Duke Saturday to advance to the Round of 16 in Atlanta. The Blue Devils beat Southern 70-54 in Thursday’s late-night game in Greensboro.

For many of the players, Duke’s program is one of admiration.

“I’m excited. I don’t know how much sleep I’m going to get tonight, but I’m definitely excited about playing the number one team in the country,” Pinnock said. “How could you not be? You know Duke. I could talk for days about Duke.”

If the Colonials score as they did Thursday, they may be able to run with any team in the nation.

The Colonials’ offensive was very productive, with six players in double figures. Sophomore Maureece Rice had 20 points and no turnovers to lead GW’s attack. The Philadelphia native had three three-pointers, including one with 3:38 left that gave GW a two-point lead.

Senior Omar Williams had 16 points, and classmate Mike Hall had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Pops Mensah-Bonsu played his first game since going down with a torn meniscus Feb. 22. Hobbs said he was unsure of the 6-foot-9 forward’s capabilities going into the game, but Mensah-Bonsu put down 10 points in 27 minutes.

Mensah-Bonsu said coming back from his knee injury felt good and was surprisingly easy.

“To come back in a game like this, you think it would be kind of tough but once the game got started, I felt at ease,” Mensah-Bonsu said.

Wilmington got 25 points from guard T.J. Carter and 14 from backcourt-mate John Goldenberry.

For GW, goals have been set and for Hobbs, the path seems to be irrelevant.

“All I know is we set goals for ourselves,” Hobbs said. “We’re just trying to live and follow our dreams. That’s it and that’s all we’re focused on.”

-David Ceasar contributed to this report.

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