West Virginia survived a scare from George Washington in the final minutes, scoring six straight points out of a delay game, and held on for a 74-71 Eastern Eight victory last night before a capacity crowd of 5,000 at the Smith Center.
After winning their 18th straight game, the Mountaineers are 19-1, 9-0 in the conference. GW fell to 11-10, 5-4.
The physical game took its toll on GW, which lost four players on fouls. The Colonials also lost forward Oscar Wilmington for the rest of the season with torn ligaments in his right knee. He will undergo surgery Tuesday, a GW spokesman said.
West Virginia broke a 60-60 tie and held off GW by making eight foul shots in the final two minutes.
GW center Mike Brown led all scorers with 24 points--22 in the second half--and Dave Hobel scored 19 for the Colonials.
The first half was very physical, resulting in 26 personal fouls and a number of players going to the bench.
The first Colonial to leave the game was Brown, the Colonials' leading scorer and rebounder. He picked up two fouls in the first three minutes and sat out the rest of the half.
Paul Gracza, who replaced Brown, picked up four fouls in the first half. Steve Perry, who has just started playing well, had three fouls in the first 6 1/2 minutes and also sat out the rest of the half.
The Colonials were also hurt offensively because Wilbert Skipper, their best outside shooter, didn't start because of a slightly pulled calf muscle. He played eight minutes and scored five points, but couldn't move well defensively.
West Virginia also got in foul trouble, as starting center Phil Collins picked up three in the first 4 1/2 minutes.
In between all the pushing, shoving and grabbing, the Colonials got some fine outside shooting from Mike Brey and an unexpected lift from little-used Doug Vander Wal (four points, two rebounds). Brey made three straight to give GW a 16-14 lead with 11:20 left in the half.
West Virginia continued to work the ball inside and post the smaller Colonial guards. As a result, Lester Rowe, Michael King and Greg Jones scored 17 points.
A long jump shot by Jones gave the Mountaineers their biggest lead, 30-27, with 3:42 to play. But the Colonials got baskets from Brey and Hobel to close within a point, 34-33, with 1:45 left.
West Virginia missed on its next possession and the Colonials played for one shot. They ran off more than a minute before Ron White took an ill-advised shot, sending Coach Gerry Gimelstob into a mild tantrum.
West Virginia took advantage of the mental error and got a pair of free throws from Rowe to take a 36-33 lead at the half.
The Colonials started quickly after intermission. Brown, who scored only two points in the first half, made his first four shots, the last one giving the Colonials a 47-44 lead with 15 minutes to play.
Because of their foul trouble, the Colonials had no choice but to drop back into a zone. The Mountaineers increased the pace and got two transition baskets and a three-point play from Tony Washam for a 51-47 lead with 13 minutes left.
The Colonials continued to go inside to Brown, who made seven points to put GW ahead, 54-53, with just over 10 minutes remaining.
The Colonials started running out of players. Perry and Gracza both fouled out, leaving a limping Skipper, normally a guard, to contend with the bigger Mountaineers up front.
With the score tied at 60, Devon Howe made a pair of free throws for West Virginia. The Mountaineers went to a spread offense, and Tim Kearney, a 6-11 former all-Met from Marshall, got away from Vander Wal and scored off a nice pass for a 64-60 lead with five minutes left.
GW lost the ball on a turnover and Russel Todd also got loose for a layup and the visitors' biggest lead, 66-60, with 2:37 left.