With GW’s 76-68 win over Charlotte Saturday, the Colonials gained an 8-7 all-time edge over the 49ers and extended its home-court winning streak to 23 games. Although to a much lesser degree than last season’s court-rushing insanity, Saturday’s Atlantic 10 match up had its share of drama. The Colonials (13-4, 4-1 A-10) came back from a nine-point first-half deficit to keep the streak alive and drown the 49ers, a team which came to Foggy Bottom touting a .500 record.
After Carl Elliott tipped in Noel Wilmore’s miss to finish 16-0 in the A-10 last year, it seemed inevitable that a rivalry would develop between the two teams. And as evidenced by Saturday’s game, it seems certain that energy will always surround the match up.
But in the A-10, a conference that doesn’t boast any teams in the top 25 of college basketball and only one team in the top 50 in the Rankings Percentage Index, every game is a must-win. RPI is a computerized system that ranks college basketball teams.
Karl Hobbs, GW’s head coach, said losing one game in the conference is detrimental.
“The season is a real delicate thing,” Hobbs said. “Delicate in the sense that one loss, and you’re in a tailspin. We’re going to try to stay out of a tailspin.”
The A-10 this season has much parity, but in ways that has hurt it in the past. The league’s first-place team, Rhode Island, is 5-1, with one loss to St. Louis. St. Louis lost to conference cellar-dweller Duquesne in addition to Temple and Fordham. Upward mobility in the RPI is difficult when a good team loses to the worst team in the conference.
But this week, GW will see two teams that could be considered rivals: Saint Joseph’s and Rhode Island. Saint Joe’s, which made the Elite Eight in 2004, has a slight 23-21 advantage in the all-time record with GW but the Colonials beat the Hawks in 2005 to win its first A-10 title. GW has won the last three match ups.
“I don’t care what team (Coach Phil Martelli) has or who he has, they’re always a very, very good defensive, fundamentally sound basketball team,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs said he has his concerns with his team, which is in the midst of a well above-average rebuilding year. The Colonials shot an abysmal 45.5 percent from the free-throw line. Normally stellar shooters have turned sour as Maureece Rice went 3-for-8 from the line. Rice, who scored a team-high 17 points, had six rebounds in continuing his strong play. Going against Saint Joe’s, a team that glared over the Philadelphia all-star, Rice will need help and fewer minutes, Hobbs said.
“We got to get a few more minutes out of Travis (King),” Hobbs said. “I’m not sure if Maureece missed the shots down the stretch because he’s played too many minutes and has the fatigue factor.”
GW welcomes the Hawks Wednesday at Smith Center at 7:30 p.m.