GW Falls Apart In Final Minutes

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 15, 2007

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 14 -- For a lot of reasons, George Washington shouldn't have been able to hang around Wednesday night against Atlantic 10 foe Saint Joseph's. But just as inexplicably, once they gave themselves a chance to steal a victory on the road, the Colonials wasted several ripe opportunities in the closing minutes of a 62-56 loss in front of 2,814 at Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse.

Because of a violation of team rules, senior point guard Carl Elliott missed just the second start of his career, though he played in the first half. Meantime, foul trouble by GW's big men turned Saint Joseph's size advantage into a complete mismatch.

Yet after a 9-0 run by Saint Joseph's late in the game, the Colonials still had a chance to win after guard Maureece Rice hit a layup with little more than two minutes left to cut the deficit to 59-56.

The Hawks then turned over the ball on their next three possessions.

But instead of taking advantage, the worn-down Colonials failed to score another basket.

George Washington (15-8, 6-5) has lost four straight games for the first time since the 2003-2004 season, and it failed to score 60 or more points for the third straight game. Meantime, Saint Joseph's (15-10, 7-4) avenged a Jan. 24 loss at GW and ended a four-game skid against GW, the Hawks' longest against any Atlantic 10 opponent.

"They just were too physical," Hobbs said of the Hawks, who parlayed their bulk advantage into a 35-27 rebounding edge. "The game really became a battle of wills on the backboard. We made great stops, but we just didn't come down with the rebound."

With the score tied with little more than six minutes left, George Washington forward Rob Diggs established position on the blocks, where he received a sharp pass from Travis King. Diggs drew a foul, made the basket and completed a three-point play to give GW the lead.

The Hawks responded with a 9-0 run that was highlighted by a three-pointer from Darrin Govens and a dunk by Ahmad Nivins. Hawks forward Pat Calathes helped trigger the push by missing out on a piece of history. Calathes went to the free throw line with little more than five minutes left needing to hit two straight to tie Delonte West's school record of 37 consecutive made free throws set during the 2003-2004 season. Calathes hit the first but missed the second. But Nivins got the rebound, drew a foul and completed the three-point play.

Govens later hit a pair of free throws with 57 seconds remaining to seal the victory. Calathes scored 17 points to lead the Hawks. Damian Hollis scored a career-high 14 to tie with Rice, a Philadelphia native, for tops for the Colonials.

"I thought he played well," Hobbs said of Hollis. "He's still got to get better on the defensive side of the ball. I think all freshmen struggle in that area."

George Washington led 32-31 at halftime as the Colonials' reserves played a leading role early on.

King, Hollis and Noel Wilmore combined for 20 points and six rebounds. Meantime, GW big men Regis Koundjia and Dokun Akingbade teamed for more personal fouls (five) than points (two) or rebounds (two). Both found themselves in foul trouble less than 10 minutes into the game.

GW missed its first nine shots from the field and allowed Saint Joseph's to open a nine-point advantage the Colonials later erased with an 18-3 run. The Colonials led by as much as six in the first half.

Colonials Notes: Sophomore forward Cheyenne Moore will undergo surgery and miss the rest of the season, Hobbs announced. The 6-foot-5 Moore, who averaged 4.3 points, had been playing through the aftereffects of a stress fracture in his left tibia suffered in October. . . . Elliott missed his first start in 101 games dating from 2002-03.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company