GW Falls to La Salle, Says in Atlantic 10 Cellar

By Kathy Orton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 12, 2009

With five of its seven remaining games against teams from the bottom half of the Atlantic 10 standings, now is the time for George Washington to make a move out of last place.

Last night before 2,409 at Smith Center, the Colonials wasted a perfect opportunity to ascend in the standings. Instead of possibly moving into 12th place -- which would be good enough to qualify for the conference tournament next month -- GW took a step back, losing 68-57 to La Salle. The Colonials (7-14, 1-8) remain tied with Fordham (3-18, 1-8) for last place.

"We got off to a very bad start in the first two minutes of the game," Colonials Coach Karl Hobbs said. "We're just not talented, good enough to have that sort of thing happen to us at the onset of the game. From that point on it was an uphill battle."

GW should have been able to capitalize against a La Salle team that had lost three in a row coming into the game and was missing Yves Mekongo Mbala, who scored 26 points against GW in the Explorers' 76-66 win on Jan. 28. Mekongo Mbala broke his right hand on Feb. 4 against Dayton.

But the Colonials looked out of sorts. They shot just 34.5 percent in the first half, their perimeter defense was lacking and they couldn't seem to adjust to how the game was being officiated. Damian Hollis, Rob Diggs and Joseph Katuka each had two fouls by halftime. Hollis eventually fouled out with 2 minutes 43 seconds remaining, but not before scoring 20 points in 21 minutes.

Five GW players finished with three or more fouls. The Explorers (13-10, 4-5) took advantage of their 28 trips to the free throw line, scoring 23 points.

"Officials, to me, they have to work together as a team," Hobbs said. "They have to understand the flow of the game, and there has to be some consistency with calls. I've never been one to complain about referees and I'm not complaining now. I want to make that clear so the league doesn't fine me."

GW, which never led, fell behind early when Hollis received a technical foul in addition to a personal foul one minute into the game. Hollis appeared to bump Kimmani Barrett after the play, and Barrett sank four consecutive free throws to put La Salle ahead 4-0.

The Colonials managed to cut the Explorers' lead to 23-21 late in the first half on Katuka's tip-in. But instead of ending the half strong, GW fell apart. Hobbs protested a bit too much about the amount of fouls being called on GW and was given a technical, which resulted in a five-point play for La Salle. Ruben Guillandeaux, who was fouled by Travis King while making a layup, sank three foul shots to put the Explorers ahead 32-21. That five-point possession was part of a 14-0 run by La Salle.

· AMERICAN 52, BUCKNELL 50: Jordan Nichols blocked G.W. Boon's layup with nine seconds remaining, and the visiting Eagles (16-7, 8-1 Patriot League) held on for their 11th win in 12 games.

· LEHIGH 70, NAVY 59: In Annapolis, Marquis Hall scored 18 points and the Mountain Hawks (14-9, 4-5 Patriot League) snapped their two-game losing streak with a win over the Midshipmen (16-8, 5-4).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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