George Washington, heading into the roughest part of its Eastern 10 schedule, may have found the missing man in its offense last night.
Freshman Chester Wood made the most of a rare starting assignment, sinking all eight of his shots for 16 points as the Colonials defeated outmanned Monmouth College, 93-61, before 1,575 at Smith Center.
The Colonials, 10-9, also got stellar efforts from center Mike Brown, who had a career high 26 points and 15 rebounds, and Troy Webster, 20 points. Darryl Webster, who had eight points, also started playing well. He made four free throws, giving him 15 straight without a miss the last three games.
GW shot 62 percent from the floor, made 27 of 34 free throws and outrebounded the Hawks, 36-27.
"This was the kind of game we needed before we play Massachusetts (Thursday) and St. Bonaventure (Saturday) here," said Troy Webster. "Nothing is easy for us. We have to work every game. Right now, both Darryl and Cheese (Wood) are playing real well. That takes a lot of pressure off Mike and me."
Monmouth, 6-12, which will move up from Division II to I in two years, didn't have the players to avoid its ninth loss in as many games against Division I teams this season. The visitors stayed close for more than 10 minutes but ran into trouble when 6-foot-10 center Jesse Stout was called for his third personal foul as he tried to contain Brown.
"We knew the only opportunity we had to play with them was to keep Jesse in the game," said Coach Ron Kornegay. "Once he got that third foul, Brown went crazy."
George Washington led by only 23-20 before Brown, Wood and Troy Webster started scoring. They accounted for 19 of their team's last 23 points of the half and the Colonials had a 46-30 advantage.
Brown, who made 10 of 12 free throws that half, and his teammates often limited the Hawks to one shot and forced a number of turnovers that led to a basket or a trip to the foul line.
"We've lost some incredibly tough games, but we're playing very well right now," said Coach Gerry Gimelstob. "We have these two important conference games coming up and I hope we're peaking."
The Colonials didn't do many things wrong against Monmouth. They continued to play very tough in the second half despite leading by 20 points or more.
Wood was particularly effective. The 6-4 forward out of Carroll, who had been coming into games as a reserve, looked comfortable starting. He scored his team's first basket on a short jumper, then posted his high in points at George Washington.
"It doesn't matter if I start or come off the bench," he said. "Starting gives you more responsibility. The coach expects more of you and I feel I should do more."