Rice Gets Well At Opportune Moment for GW

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 18, 2007

RICHMOND, Jan. 17 -- Junior guard Maureece Rice has spent the last few days in virtual hibernation, trying to fight off the flu. As his George Washington teammates practiced leading up to Wednesday night's game in Richmond, the team's leading scorer rested, saving his energy for when it would count the most.

He looked tired and a half-step slower than normal, making just one of his first nine shots. But when the Colonials needed a spark late, Rice enjoyed an awakening.

With the score tied at 54, Rice scored six straight points with less than two minutes remaining to help George Washington beat Richmond, 63-58, before 3,230 at Robins Center.

Richmond's Peter Thomas tied the game at 54 with two free throws at the 2-minute 13-second mark, but Rice responded with a straightaway jumper to put the Colonials back ahead with 1:44 remaining. With a minute left, Rice scored on a floater in the lane to give the Colonials a four-point advantage. Rice then drew contact on an aggressive move to the basket and made two free throws to lift the Colonials to a 60-54 lead with 42 seconds left.

"Maureece Rice made a big shot in the second half and that got us over the hump," George Washington Coach Karl Hobbs said. "That was big for him, that shot. It couldn't have come at a better time."

Forward Rob Diggs made two free throws with seven seconds left to help George Washington improve to 12-4, 3-1 in the Atlantic 10.

Rice, who barely could speak after the game, finished with 10 points against a struggling Spiders team that lost for the ninth time in 10 games.

Colonials point guard Carl Elliott scored a game-high 14 points, showing some aggression by getting to the free throw line, where he converted 6 of 8 attempts. Forward Dokun Akingbade recorded his second straight double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and took a key charge late in the game.

"In the second half, I thought [Akingbade] played magnificent," Hobbs said. "I challenged him at halftime, and told him, 'Hey big fella, you've got to step up,' because we were really struggling."

Diggs and reserve guard Travis King added 10 points each, but King's contributions extended beyond his scoring. He had four steals, three of which led directly to points. King played 21 minutes, the most among the Colonials' reserves.

Richmond trailed 29-25 at halftime but opened the second half on a 9-0 run that was fueled by Jarhon Giddings's three-pointer, his fourth in five attempts. The push gave the Spiders a 34-29 advantage.

Five times, the Colonials clawed back to tie the game, though they couldn't take the lead. George Washington tied the game for the fifth time in the second half when Cheyenne Moore made a three-pointer at the 8:26 mark. The Colonials managed to take the lead when King made a foul shot with 6:28 left, but Dan Geriot then made two free throws to give the Spiders a 49-48 lead.

That's when Akingbade responded again. He scored six straight points to give the Colonials a 54-49 lead with 4:12 left.

During halftime, Hobbs challenged the Colonials to pick up the pace. The message resonated with Akingbade.

"I was just trying to come out with energy," he said.

The win was George Washington's second in a row at Robins Center after it had lost five in a row dating from 1994, though once again Hobbs said his team labored to do it.

"Every game down here has been this type of ballgame," Hobbs said. "I think it's going to continue being that way."

The Colonials forced Richmond (5-12, 1-3) into 19 turnovers. Giddings led the Spiders with 13 points.

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