Virginia Tech used brute inside strength to wear out George Washington's hot shooters last night to register an 88-81 victory.

With center Dale solomon scoring 27 of his 31 points from within five feet of the basket, Tech's starting front line turned in 70 points to defeat the Colonials before the season's first sellout at Smith Center.

But, in defeat, GW played as well as it has in any game of this 13-7 season.

"They are awesome, I'll tell you that," GW Coach Bob Tallent said after watching Tech post its 17th victory in 20 games. "We just got beat by a team that's superior to us. They've got some incredible inside players. I thought we played extremely well. We just got manhandled inside."

Sixty percent field-goal accuracy in the first half gained GW only a 48-44 lead at halftime. But any team that shoots that well and averages 1.3 points per possession must know its lead is tenuous at best.

And indeed it was once Tech got its offense in gear and GW, on a night sharpshooter Brian Magid missed nine of 13 shots, cooled off to 44 percent marksmanship.

Solomon, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, scored 19 points the second half, including 13 of the 27 as the Hokies took a 71-65 lead with 9:08 to play.

Tom Glenn, who scored 21 points, and Mike Zagardo, who had 19, were overmatched, even in a zone, once Dexter Reid began running the Hokie offense effectively, getting six of his nine assists in the second half.

"Solomon played a fantastic game," said Tech Coach Charlie Moir, whose unranked team seeks national recognition Monday night in a key Metro Conference game against third-ranked Louisville.

"He's a scoring machine when he gets the ball inside," Moir added. "GW's a heck of a shooting team.But when we run our offense right, we're a hard team to defense, too."

Said Tallent: "We haven't played anybody like that this season."

Solomon made 15 of 21 shots, a walking call with three seconds left thwarting his bid to tie his college career-high point production, set last season against Old Dominion. Forwards Les Henson and Wayne Robinson added 24 and 15 points, respectively.

Tech shot 71.4 percent the second half, the second straight game that a superior team -- Villanova did it Wednesday -- has pressed the ball inside, shot 60 percent or better for the final 20 minutes and prevented the Colonials from notching their 50th victory in the five years they have played in Smith Center.

Tech was unbelievable at the offensive end at the beginning of the second half, scoring on its first 10 possessions, the final one when Reid stole GW's inbounds pass and was awarded a basket after Zagardo goal-tended his layup. That made it 65-61, Tech.

The Colonials remained within four points for another 7 1/2 minutes. But an over-the-back rebounding foul against Glenn erased a tap-in basket, Glenn wasn't ready to handle a nifty Oscar Wilmington pass, reserve Jimmy Stepp launched an air ball from 25 feet and Paul Gracza missed an open 12-footer.

Tech capitalized on those errors with three baskets, the last one a layup -- what else? -- by Solomon and a 79-69 lead with 5:05 to play.

The next time the Hokies got the ball, they went into a stall. But GW, which had benched Zagardo and come from 16 points back with five minutes to play against St. Bonaventure, could hardly make a dent in the lead this time.

This game also had its own odd twists, including a technical foul against Glenn for hanging on the rim after unsuccessfully defending against a Solomon layup in the first half. That infraction resulted in a five-point possession for the Hokies.

And later in the half, Magid was assessed a technical foul, by referee Gerry Austin, while dribbling up-court and becoming upset by the hand-checking of defender Reggie Steppe.

"That's a foul, -- damn it." yelled Magid, and Austin signalled the technical. GW was saved from a five-point play this time only because the referees missed fairly obvious goal tending by Glenn.