Three erstwhile starters, benched by Coach Gerry Gimelstob, last night turned into great substitutes in leading George Washington to an 88-70 victory over Siena College before 3,200 fans at Smith Center.

Gimelstob, disgruntled with GW's defense in a 21-point loss to VPI Thursday, had benched seniors Wilbert Skipper, Penny Elliott and Oscar Wilmington. Once they got into the game last night, Skipper scored 20 points, Wilmington 13 and Elliott eight.

GW (2-1) also got another fine effort from freshman Mike Brown, who had 21 points and 12 rebounds. Wilmington had six rebounds.

GW set a school record with 49 foul shots, and made 34 of them. The Indians (1-2) made 16 of 25 from the line. There were 62 personal and four technical fouls called, including two in the first half against Gimelstob. The father-son officiating crew of Lou and Mike Moser penalized Gimelstob within seconds of each other.

Despite the sloppy play by both teams, Gimelstob said he was pleased with his team's effort.

The same lineup that started GW's first two games, Skipper, Wilmington, Elliott, Brown and Dave Hobel were on the floor at the start of the second half with GW nursing a 37-35 intermission lead.

Brown scored five straight points to give the hosts a 42-35 lead. Wilmington and Skipper then combined for 12 of GW's next 14 points and the Colonials led, 56-42, with 12 minutes to play.

Paul Gracza, Dan Sullivan and Ron White, who started against Siena, played well in their brief stints. White earned Gimelstob's approval for the floor burns he picked up diving for loose balls.