George Washington, showing little sign of rustiness after being idle two weeks, parlayed tough man-to-man defense and some near-perfect shooting early in the game into an 84-67 victory last night over Morehead State in a nonconference contest before 800 at Smith Center.
"Maybe we were rusty game-wise," said Colonial point guard Curtis Jeffries, who finished with 18 points, "but our practices have been tough. Those two-a-days . . ."
The long practices GW Coach Bob Tallent has subjected his players to the past 10 days because of unenthusiastic and erratic play the first six games, showed results last night. GW shot well from the floor (51 percent) and the free-throw line (69 percent), rebounded when it had to and played the kind of defense Tallent has been wanting to see since the start.
"We played pretty good defense and shot the ball well," said Tallent. "Overall, this may be the best game we've played this year. Well, except for the Auburn game. Everybody did a good job. They're not doing all the things I want them to do but at least they're beginning to recognize them. Before, we didn't seem to know what we were doing."
Everything the Colonials, now 5-2, did against the hustling but outclassed Eagles worked. After missing its first four shots, GW converted 11 of its next 13 field-goal tries to go ahead, 22-12, with 10:55 left in the first half. n
Tom Glenn, who led all scorers with 20 points, had six of his points in the Colonial surge. The 6-foot-8 senior also did a good job on the boards, combining with Mike Zagardo to limit the smaller Eagles to a single shot at their basket.
MSU (5-4), getting nothing from its two centers -- Butch Kelley and Albert Spencer did not score and had only three rebounds -- relied on the outside shooting of its guards to stay in the game. But for nearly a six-minute stretch in the first half, the guards stopped scoring and GW stretched its lead to a comfortable 16 points. Four points by Jeffries and a driving layup by Oscar Wilmington put the Colonials up, 38-22, with 5:03 to play.
"We gave them a few baskets following unforced errors," said MSU Coach Wayne Martin. "I didn't think we were out of the game until the final three minutes. But they got that lead and we couldn't get back."
After a jump shot by MSU's leading scorer, Glen Napier, cut the deficit to 38-27, the Colonials struck for three straight fast-break baskets and wound up with a 44-29 lead in intermission.
Paul Gracza drove past two Morehead defenders for a layup and Glenn floated in for a two-handed dunk. Gracza then sank another layup following a perfect bounce pass from Jeffries. Glenn had blocked a shot by Eddie Childress to set up the second Gracza basket and give GW its comfortable halftime margin.
"They did a job of stopping (Brian) Magid so we began to work to get the ball inside," said Glenn. "It was a good game for us after the break. I think we're beginning to get it together. Some of the other teams we played in December weren't that good and we didn't look good. You play as good as the competition, sometimes.This team wasn't bad."
Morehead State made only one run at the Colonials in the second half. Childress scored four points, John Solomon hit a 16-footer from the top of the key and Charlie Clay threw down a dunk to cap an 8-0 run that cut the GW lead to 67-58 with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
But as quickly as you can stay "GW," the Colonials put together a surge of their own and that was that. Jeffries scored six of his team's next 13 points as the Colonials went out to an 80-63 lead.
The Eagles' Norris Beckley did a fine job of holding Magid to six points. The sharpshooting guard managed only seven field-goal attempts and four of them were forced.
"I couldn't get open so I tried to do some other things," said Magid. "They played pretty good defense."
Even without Magid's customary 25-foot swishers, the GW offense ran smooth. With Glenn and Zagardo (nine points) getting baskets inside and Jeffries popping from the perimeter, GW had no problem scoring. Wilmington (11 points) and Jimmy Stepp (seven) also did good jobs in relief. w
"We tried to stop Magid and Stepp from hitting outside. And we did do a good job on Magid," said Martin, "But they beat us inside."
MSU had more rebounds, 36-31, but many of them came in the second half when the Colonials were way ahead and decided to sit back in a zone and watch the Eagles shoot from outside. Even with second and third shots, Morehead couldn't overcome the Colonials' big lead.