George Washington Coach Gerry Gimelstob was infuriated with his Colonials after their 59-54 loss to Rhode Island in an Eastern Eight game last night at Smith Center.

Gimelstob was upset because the Colonials played poor defense much of the game and failed to score on seven of their final eight possessions against a team they defeated in Kingston, R.I., less than two weeks ago.

After trailing by as many as eight points in the first half, GW (9-8, 4-2 in the conference) took the lead in the second half, before falling behind, 54-52, on center Roland Houston's short turnaround jumper with 1:55 left.

That came shortly after Wilbert Skipper, GW's best foul shooter (80 percent), missed a one and one that could have given the Colonials the lead.

GW, then trailing by two, got the ball back with less than a minute to play, and worked for a good shot. With 47 seconds left, Colonial senior guard Mike Brey attempted a cross-court pass to Skipper. But Rhode Island forward Marc Upshaw stepped in front of Skipper and stole the ball.

Upshaw went to the foul line and made both free throws, giving the Rams (6-10, 1-5) a 56-52 lead with 22 seconds left. "I was playing his eyes, and anticipating that very pass," Upshaw said.

Skipper made a 25-foot shot with 10 seconds to play, pulling GW within 56-54. But the Rams made three more foul shots for the final margin and their first Eastern Eight victory after five defeats.

GW freshman center Mike Brown was held to seven points.

"What a disgrace that was," Gimelstob said afterward. "Our defense was disgraceful. Skipper (14 points, seven rebounds, four assists) played his best game of the year, but unfortunately, he didn't have more support. We couldn't beat Our Lady's of the Poor, right now."

In the previous game between these two teams, Brown scored 18 points and dominated inside play, and the Colonial defense held Upshaw, the conference's leading scorer, to 10 points.

That scenario was revised last night. Brown was rendered ineffective by an allergy attack and the Rams' triple-teaming zone; Upshaw scored a game-high 20 points, including 12 in the first half when Rhode Island took a 36-33 lead.

The 6-foot-9 Brown also had only four rebounds and missed three of four free throws. Colonial guards Brey and Dave Hobel scored eight points apiece on outside shooting, but it wasn't nearly enough to offset 55 percent shooting by the Rams.

"Their whole offense is basically Mike Brown, and I had in my mind from the beginning to stop him," said Houston, who didn't start the game but made four of five field goals, and prompted Gimelstob to say: "Houston scored over Brown like he was Kareem."

Several Rhode Island players praised Brown, but said he is easy to limit with a defense that sags inside. "The key is stopping Brown," Upshaw said. "Their other players were picking, but not off the ball."

Brown said the Rams were "everywhere I turned," but said he was also hurt by the allergy attack.