After an incredible first half of shooting, George Washington lost its touch and the game to West Virginia, 74-72, last night in Smith Center.

The defeat cost the Colonials the home-court advantage Tuesday in the opening round of the Eastern Eight Tournament. They now will have to play at Pittsburgh.

GW, which fell to a 13-13 record for Coach Bob Tallent's first nonwinning regular-season mark at the school, fired away at a 70 percent clip in the opening 20 minutes.

But after intermission, the Colonials could make only one shot outside eight feet and lost yet another game down the stretch in what turned out to be a most frustrating season of second-half collapses.

A layup by West Virginia guard Lowes Moore with 20 seconds remaining put his club up for good. GW then had two final shots to force an overtime.

The first came with three seconds to go. Brian Magid forced a shot over a double team in the right corner. The ball hit the side of the backboard and fell into the arms of teammate Bob Lindsay, who couldn't make a wide-open six-footer.

Lindsay aimed the ball, just as the Colonials appeared to be pulling their shots during the final 20 minutes while reflecting the pressure of admittedly their most important contest of the season.

Lindsay didn't deserve to be the goat. His first-half play, in which he scored 16 points and had three assists in 13 minutes coming off the bench, was the major reason. GW grabbed a 47-39 intermission margin after leading by as many as 11 earlier in the period.

But Lindsay missed all three of his attempts in the second half as the Colonials were only eight of 19 from the field in the last 20 minutes.

They also were outrebounded, 17-7, which prevented them from getting more than a handful of second shots. Center Tom Zagardo had four of the caroms while the Colonials' starting forwards were limited to just one.

Moore was responsible for directing West Virginia's comeback. He showed marvelous one-on-one moves and forced GW out of its man-to-man defense during most of the second half.

His 30 points, 15 in each half, constantly kept the pressure on the home team. As the clock ran down, it seemed only a matter of whether Moore would be able to shoot enough to win the game, GW seemed powerless to prevent the comeback.

Lindsay and forward Mike Samson were the only Colonials to score more than a basket in the second half. GW's normally proficient guards combined for only five points and West Virginia was able to capitalize on their ineffectiveness by sagging and cutting off inside passes.

That drop-back defense contributed greatly to the Colonials' demise. They held a 66-65 lead when a Tom Tate pass intended for the low post was picked off and the Mountaineers immediately scored for their first lead of the half.

Moments later, another pass, this one by Lindsay inside, was intercepted and Moore was fouled. He hit both foul shots for a 71-68 margin. GW managed to tie it at 72 but never led again.

That tie came on a layup by Curtis Jeffries with 2:20 remaining. GW applied good defensive pressure to force an immediate turnover, but Samson failed on a one and one and the Mountaineers had the ball with 52 seconds to go.

Moore, who made 12 of 23 shots, got Tate isolated on the left side of the basket. He drove past the GW player with a fake, then avoided the defensive help of Samson to drop in a layup.

GW called a timeout. The Colonials moved the ball inside to Zagardo, but it was knocked out of bounds. After another timeout with five seconds left, Magid was boxed in the corner. He unloaded the ball and his effort almost worked but Lindsay couldn't convert the rebound.

Almost everything Lindsay and friends tossed up in the first half went in. But even their accurate marksmanship was frustrated by mistakes. They committed 10 turnovers, one reason why making their first eight shots resulted in a 17-16 West Virginia lead.