Billikens a Cold Comfort for GW

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 11, 2008

How bad was it?

So bad that George Washington had as many combined blocked shots and steals as Saint Louis had points.

So bad that the Billikens needed more than 29 minutes to reach double figures in scoring, that their leading scorer had two points and that they had almost twice as many offensive rebounds as baskets.

"We had some issues," Saint Louis Coach Rick Majerus said, understating his team's unsightly 49-20 loss to the Colonials last night before a Smith Center audience of 3,213 that saw the Billikens set a modern-day record for fewest points in a Division I game. Not since the shot clock was switched on 22 years ago had a team been so offensively inept. Georgia Southern (1997) and Princeton (2005) shared the previous mark with 21 points.

The Billikens had seven points at halftime, shot 14.6 percent overall (7 for 48), missed their first 18 three-pointers before making their final attempt and, during a stretch that bridged halftime, went 17 minutes 58 seconds without a field goal.

It was Saint Louis's lowest output since 1941-42 and the fewest points conceded by the Colonials since that same season against Furman (69-18).

Colonials Coach Karl Hobbs attributed the outcome to both his team's defense and the Billikens' wayward shooting. "I don't think there was a shot that went up that wasn't contested [and] they just missed some shots," he said. "We were fortunate in that regard."

With the victory, the Colonials (5-6, 1-0) improved to 5-0 at home and started their Atlantic 10 schedule in impressive style. The Billikens (9-6, 0-1) had won their previous three games.

Between 30-point losses and a season-ending injury to their starting point guard, the pair of suspensions to top returning player Maureece Rice and their revolving lineup, the Colonials hardly have enjoyed the first two months of this transitional season.

But with their troublesome nonconference schedule behind them and their league slate beginning, the Colonials were presented an opportunity to start resuscitating their dreary season and perhaps position themselves as a sleeper in a suddenly imposing Atlantic 10.

"I knew it was going to be a special game because everyone in the locker room was wired with energy. I never felt that much energy in one room from our team at once," said forward Damian Hollis, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds. "If we can build off this, a lot of change is coming."

The Billikens were more than accommodating.

They shot 12 percent in the first half and trailed 25-7. Their first three field goals came in a 2:52 span -- they did not have a field goal in the 8:28 before that or nearly 18 minutes afterward.

GW's half-court defense was exceptional, but Saint Louis also missed shots from every imaginable angle and distance, and when it went inside, Rob Diggs was there to block five shots, all in the first half.

With time running out in the first half, the Billikens attempted to prevent further embarrassment by holding the ball for the final 30 or so seconds. But Kevin Lisch missed a jumper and 7-foot Bryce Husak (team-high five points) clanked a layup.

It only got worse after intermission. The Colonials blocked two more shots as their blocked-shot total surpassed Saint Louis's point total. Barry Eberhardt's free throw at the 18:55 mark was the Billikens' only point until Luke Meyer's offensive rebound and layup with 10:39 to go.

The crowd responded with perhaps the biggest ovation of the surreal evening.

Colonials Notes: Forward Cheyenne Moore, who has started six games, did not play. Hobbs said he is not injured and it was a coaching decision.

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