By Kathy Orton
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, January 19, 2007
George Washington can be offensively challenged at times. Without one dependable, game-breaking scorer, the 11th-ranked Colonials find themselves straining to produce points more often than they would like.
GW compensates for this deficiency by playing relentless defense. In their 61-45 victory over Rhode Island last night before 650 at Smith Center, the Colonials made the Rams work for every point.
"I wouldn't necessarily say it's a comfort," guard Kim Beck said about the Colonials' reliance on defense. "It's nice to fall back on it sometimes. But in March or early in April, we're not going to be able to fall back on our defense all the time."
Beck scored 17 points to lead three scorers in double figures for GW (15-2, 4-0 Atlantic 10), which remained one of three unbeaten teams in the conference along with Temple and Charlotte.
The Colonials' eighth consecutive win was hardly unexpected. Although Rhode Island (4-14, 2-2) was off to its best conference start in 11 seasons, the Rams have never won at Smith Center in 18 meetings, and they did not test GW last night.
GW started well, surging to a 14-4 lead 5½ minutes into the game, but it then became stuck on 14. For nearly 8½ minutes, the scoreboard refused to budge for the Colonials. They missed seven field goal attempts and two free throws and turned the ball over four times during their scoreless drought. Remarkably, they never lost the lead. After Rhode Island pulled to 14-10, Beck sank a three-point basket to end GW's streak of futility.
"Offensively, we've got to clean some things up if we want to challenge the upper echelons of college basketball," GW Coach Joe McKeown said. "We've got to get better offensively, and we know that."
GW stayed in front of the Rams by holding their starting five to two first-half field goals. The entire Rhode Island team made only four field goals before halftime (4 of 26, 15.4 percent). This was the fifth straight game the Colonials held their opponents to 20 points or less in the first half. Safi Mojidi (Bullis) was the only player to score in double figures for the Rams. Mojidi finished with 11 points.
Particularly when its shots aren't falling, GW generates most of its offense from its defense. The Colonials step into passing lanes and thrive at picking off passes and racing downcourt for layups. They turned 19 Rams turnovers into 17 points.
The Colonials traditionally boast one of the best defenses in the Atlantic 10, and this year is no different. They are holding opponents to 58.2 points per game and 36.8 percent shooting. They have been particularly stingy lately, surrendering only 49.3 points on average over their last six games.
Lofty ranking aside, if GW plans on making any noise in March, the Colonials know they have to step up on offense.
"Sometimes I feel like we're the No. 11 team in the country, and sometimes I don't," forward Whitney Allen said. "Tonight we just weren't in rhythm. We weren't in sync. We had a few droughts. We've just got to go back to practice, work on our execution, and I think we'll be fine."
· OLD DOMINION 69, GEORGE MASON 49: Lateisha Wade scored 16 points and Moni Akintunde added 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds, but the host Patriots (7-9, 1-5 CAA) dropped to 0-40 all-time against the Lady Monarchs.
T.J. Jordan scored 17 of her game-high 19 points in the first half, including five three-pointers, as Old Dominion (9-7, 5-0) marched to a 38-17 lead at halftime.
· VIRGINIA TECH 74, WAKE FOREST 34: The Hokies limited the host Demon Deacons to 12 points after intermission. Virginia Tech (12-8, 2-3 ACC) scored 41 points in the second half to hand Wake Forest (8-10, 0-5) its worst loss of the season.