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George Washington vs. Dayton: Jabari Edwards saves the day for Colonials

By Kathy Orton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 6, 2011; D06

All that stood between victory and defeat on Saturday for George Washington was a 6-foot-10 senior forward with balky knees.

Jabari Edwards guarded the left side of the basket as Dayton senior forward Chris Wright drove toward the goal with only seconds remaining in the game. As Wright went up to take the shot, Edwards stood his ground and got a hand on the ball, deflecting it away as the buzzer sounded on the Colonials' 60-58 win at Smith Center.

Tony Taylor made the free throws that gave GW its final margin of victory, but it was Edwards's defensive effort that secured the win. It was a fitting end to a day on which Edwards and fellow Colonials senior Joseph Katuka were honored. "I knew it was going to happen," said Edwards, who finished with five blocks. "I knew the guy was going to drive to the basket. Tony played great [defense]. I was just there to help out."

With the win, GW (17-13, 10-6 Atlantic 10) won for the fifth time in six games and secured the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament. The Colonials will host No. 12 seed Saint Joseph's (9-21, 4-12) on Tuesday at Smith Center. GW defeated the Hawks, 78-71, on Jan. 8. "What this team has been able to do is stick together, work hard, take one game at a time and, most importantly, they've been able to believe in one another," GW Coach Karl Hobbs said. "I'm just very, very proud of this basketball team."

Dayton's rebounding, particularly on the offensive end, gave the Colonials fits early. The Flyers (19-12, 7-9) are one of the stronger rebounding teams in the conference and in the nation. Their most effective offense seemed to be putting back missed shots.

GW also struggled with foul trouble in the early going. The Colonials had five fouls in less than three minutes to begin the game, with Nemanja Mikic and Katuka each picking up a pair. Taylor also was assessed a charging foul. As a result, GW appeared tentative at the outset. The Flyers scored 10 points in the lane before GW made its first field goal close to the basket. Taylor made a short jumper, then David Pellom (16 points) followed with a steal and a dunk that gave the Colonials their first lead, 18-16. After Taylor's jump shot gave GW a 30-29 lead going into halftime, Dayton made five of its first seven baskets to go back out in front, 41-38.

The momentum began to shift after Pellom made a couple of dunks that put the Colonials ahead, 44-41. That's when the game became a free throw shooting contest. Dayton went almost 11 minutes without a field goal, and GW went more than 7½ minutes without one. The only scoring was done at the line. The Flyers weren't missing a lot of shots because they weren't taking many. Instead, they were fumbling away the ball. Eleven of Dayton's 19 turnovers came in the second half.

It remained a one-possession game until the very end. Bryan Bynes made a pair of free throws to put GW ahead, 58-55, but Dayton's Paul Williams sank a three-pointer with 41 seconds left. Taylor was fouled as he tried to make a play with 10.8 seconds remaining. He sank both free throws to finish with 17 points.

Dayton had one last chance to send the game into overtime, but Edwards - who missed 15 games this season after arthroscopic knee surgery in December but still leads the team in blocked shots (35) - made sure GW got the win.

"I just use my athleticism to get over and block shots," he said. "That's what I do best."

Colonials note: Bob Kasmir, a part-time professor at GW, was honored at halftime for his financial contributions to the university. That didn't matter to one of the referees, who ejected Kasmir from his courtside seat with 13:45 to play because of his obnoxious behavior.

Colonials note: Bob Kasmir, a part-time professor at GW, was honored at halftime for his financial contributions to the university. That didn't matter to one of the referees, who ejected Kasmir from his courtside seat with 13:45 to play because of his obnoxious behavior.

GWDayton
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