The George Washington basketball team's offense, the root of the Colonials' early season problems, now is spiffy and flourishing. The Colonials showed it last night in Smith Center against American University with their first 100-point game against a major-college team in 2 1/2 seasons.
The final margin of 102-91 actually was closer than the Colonials' superiority. Mike Zagardo and Tom Glenn ravished the Eagles inside in the first half, then Brian Magid delivered 20 of his 26 points in the first 11 minutes of the second half and GW's sixth victory in the past seven games was in hand.
Boo Bowers, AU's star foreward, kept the Eagles in the game early and finished with 32 points. But, ad Mgid took advantage of AU's collapsing zone around Zagardo, Bowers was stopped by GW freshman Oscar Wilmington in a box-and-one defense.
It was the only time all night that either team showed any signs of defensive excellence.
This was the night that Wilmington presented his credentials for the college game. His coach, his teammates and the opposing coach all pointed to the 6-foot-3 freshman forward with the extra long arms as the reason for GW being able to take an 11-5 record into Wednesday's game against George Mason.
Wilmington scored 10 points. But his real value was his ability to add aggressiveness to the Colonial offense and hit the open man. He had nine assists, with Zagardo scoring 24 points and Glenn 15 on 18-for-26 combined shooting.
Said Zagardo, "I was getting just feed after feed from Oscar. It's so easy. He sees you when you're open time after time. You don't have to work as hard to get open. He sees you as soon as you're open."
AU (9-10), a three-in-a-row loser or winner for the first time all season, seemed somewhat listless in its second straight game without two starting inside players Piper Harvey (injury) and Leon Kearney (disciplinary suspension), Coach Gary Williams keyed on stopping Zagardo inside in the first half.
The 6-foot-10 GW center scored 18 points in the first 20 minutes and Glenn added nine. In the second half, Williams ordered his team to collapse on Zagardo. That left Magid open outside and he scored 20 points before drawing his fourth foul with 11 minutes to play.
"They were collapsing on me," Zagardo said. "We had both aspects of the game going -- inside and outside. Coach (Bob Tallent) says you take what they give you."
"You gotta go for one or the other," said Williams. "It's really tough."
He also praised Wilmington.
"He makes everybody aggressive by the way he plays," Williams said. "He always takes it to the basket and gets the other guys involved. If you don't do it too, then you look bad."
Later, in the training room, where he was getting a twisted ankle iced down, Wilmington said his only goal is to make his teammates look good.
"I averaged six assists a game in high school," said Wilmington. "That's the way I played in high school. I drew a crowd of defenders on me and dished off to other guys. That's the way I can contribute."
Wilmington also drew Bowers' praise for the way he kept the nation's eighth-leading scorer from touching the ball in the box-and-one. When GW started this defense, Bowers had just burned the Colonial man-to-man defense for three baskets and the Eagles were hanging in, 55-47, early in the second half. Five minutes later, courtesy of Magid and the defense, it was 79-58.
"It was tough for me to get the ball," Bowers said, "and our guards couldn't take the pressure. One game it's the offense and the next game it's the defense. We're just not playing consistently."
Until he put in the reserves, Tallent could not have been more pleased about GW's consistent excellence on offense.